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Alumni Profile: Silas Axtell '52


3/11/2005
For Hall of Fame Inductee, Kenyon Is Family Tradition

In October 2004, Silas Axtell '52 was inducted into the Kenyon College Athletic Association Hall of Fame for his achievements in soccer and lacrosse. His remarkable collegiate athletic career, occurring in the early days of the soccer and lacrosse teams, included serving as captain of the soccer team and co-captain of the lacrosse team, and helping build the success of the two programs.

Attending Kenyon is a longtime family tradition for him: His father, Silas Blake Axtell (Alpha Delta Phi); two uncles, Howard (Delt) and Lucien (Alpha Delt); brother Halton (Alpha Delt); and his son, Silas Blake Axtell '75 (Delt) are all Kenyon men. "I'm waiting for one of the grandkids to go to Kenyon," he says. "I told my kids that somebody has to do it!"

When asked about his college days, he speaks primarily about the steadfast, lifelong friendships that were forged at Delta Tau Delta.

"Our entire pledge class has remained close, and we see most of them and their wives on a regular basis. It's pretty unique," he says. "Most of us were athletes in school and bonded together."

Jerry Ellsworth '52, who'd been a fellow soccer and lacrosse player, is a neighbor. Others from the pledge class are Bill Ranney '52 (who was a football player and has remained actively involved with Kenyon and Delta Tau Delta), brothers Bob Jones '52 and John Jones '52 (who captained both the soccer and lacrosse teams prior to Silas), Bill Hurd '52, Ed Ames '53, Harry Read '52 and Burt Craig '52.

The network of friendships has even extended into successive generations: Silas's son and Bill Ranney's son are good friends, as are the two men's grandsons.
Unfortunately, Bob Eggert '52 and Bob McOwen '52 are deceased. Eggert, Silas points out, was a professional builder who designed and built the Lodge in 1969.
Silas and his wife, Patricia, began dating in high school and wed when Si was a senior in college. They've been married 52 years and have three children (two sons and one daughter) and six grandchildren ranging in age from 13 to 19. The couple's primary home is on eastern Long Island, but they spend winters in Vero Beach, Fla., and also co-own a cabin in Vermont with John Jones.

Si fondly remembers his days at Delta Tau Delta and returns to campus every two or three years for reunions and homecoming. He has even taken grandchildren a couple of times. His favorite fraternity memories are dance weekends, parties and what he calls "an airplane panty raid" on Denison College. "Somebody had an airplane and dropped leaflets about the raid, and hundreds of Kenyon guys showed up in their cars for it," he explains, laughing.

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