Features, Opinion

A Mother Who Can’t Come Home


By the Men of TKE

In the early weeks of the 2011 school year, the fraternity of Tau Kappa Epsilon was informed that it would lose its meal plan, its kitchen—and its House Mother. TKE’s House Mother, Mary “Dee Dee” Johnson, has been working for the fraternity for six years cooking lunch and dinner for Tekes and other Beloiters alike. The rationale behind the abrupt removal of the meal plan is an increasing trend of incidents in the TKE house or involving its members.

While the situation that led up to this decision is lamentable, the leadership and members of TKE do feel remorse and take responsibility for the actions of their older brothers and are recommitting themselves to being a positive force on campus. The real purpose of this article is to speak for our House Mother. Dee Dee is the mother of two, aside from her many boys here at school. Working for TKE serves as a way to “pay my bills and live my life, but it’s not just a job,” she says. “I’m here just as much as I’m at home, I don’t know what I would do if I couldn’t go home.”

From before the beginning of their chapter, the men of TKE have had a tradition of cherishing and bonding through the communion over food. In 1907, a few Beloit men came together to form the Orrowoc (“good eating”) Club that would go on to become the TKE chapter in 1917. In the spirit of that tradition, Marge Harris served the fraternity the 20 or so years prior to Dee Dee, and still comes by the house for our Semi-Formal dinner event in the winter. Moreover, Dee Dee not only provides home cooked meals for 35-40 Tekes and other students, but also goes out of her way to get to know everyone. Taking into consideration the diversity of tastes and needs of so many can be difficult, but whether it’s making organic rice, adjusting meals for religious observance, or buying a few special bags of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos because they’re someone’s favorite, she has made the old house at 846 College a home. She has laughed and cried, shared in good times and bad, and always had a big plate of homemade cookies ready to brighten up any day.

“Everything happens for a reason,” she says, and she cherishes the time she has had here. A number of years ago, the TKE men bought her an electronic picture frame and filled it with silly pictures of themselves, to which she has continued to add pictures. Speaking about Dee Dee, TKE president Evan Michaels said, “anyone who knows her will remember fondly her time as cook; but for those of us fortunate enough to have her around everyday, she will always be our House Mother.”

A fund has been created to provide a severance package for Dee Dee. If anyone would like to contribute in some small way, contact Evan at michaele@beloit.edu for more information.



One thought on “A Mother Who Can’t Come Home

  1. I loved Dee Dee. I do not think taking her job away in this tough economy is the right move. Though this was the decision of reslife, Dee Dee is the employee of Tke and her job should have been part of the consideration that I assume went behind this decision. That is where I feel this ‘punishment’ is really unfair and serves no immediate consequence for the members of tke but does have harsh consequences for Dee Dee. Safe to say I am livid by this action and wish that the authorities will reconsider!

    Posted by Nadia Rashed (alumni) | September 30, 2011, 7:16 pm

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