Reverend Bill Phenix '87

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When Rev. Bill Phenix (GA #1656) arrived at our brand new Sigma Nu fraternity house to address the actives and a room full of Gamma Alpha alumni, you could hear a pin drop. The recently-initiated and highly successful Speaker Series, which was crafted in 2005 by our Alumni Association to encourage highly successful alumni brothers to return to campus and to provide positive role models for the young actives, had invited a minister to speak to the chapter.

Previous speakers included a U.S. Congressman and investment bankers and lawyers and even doctors. But never a preacher. Imagine that...inviting a preacher to speak in a fraternity house. No one knew what to expect. Even the fraternity dogs, Riley and Harvey, were on their best behavior.

By the end of the evening, the entire chapter realized how proud and blessed we all are to have Rev. Phenix, who was Eminent Commander of Sigma Nu in 1989 – 1990, as our BROTHER and as a resource to lean on and to share in our lives.

The message resonated with everyone as Rev. Phenix spoke eloquently and passionately. "Own your life and make a difference," he said. "Remember, college isn't an exhibition game or a pre-game activity. What you do NOW counts. Treat your time like currency. It can never be recovered....You never get a MULLIGAN IN LIFE."

Phenix continued, "Value people and treasure your family and friends. The biggest regrets revolve around failed or ignored relationships."

He went on to stress the importance of preserving those relationships you do have with the ones that you love.

"Don't let anyone define you by your financial worth," he said. "At some point, you may be asked to make a decision that makes little sense financially, but is the right decision for you as a man, as a husband or a father."

"Make time to define what you feel and what you believe," he added. "Typically, life doesn't offer you that luxury, make it a discipline. It's that important!"

In closing, Rev. Phenix constructively challenged the chapter. "Without a conscious decision for you to be different, to be better, you will be an advanced version of what you are today. Do not simply think about what you want to BE in the future. Decide what you want to BE LIKE!"

Billy Phenix grew up in Atlanta and was always a Tech fan. "My dad Rees Phenix went to Georgia Tech and played football on the 1952 National Championship Team under Bobby Dodd," recalls Billy. "Pepper Rodgers, who was the quarterback on that team, went on to coach the Yellow Jackets in the '80s." So, it was a foregone conclusion that Billy, who was a Lakeside High School graduate, would go to Tech.

There was also a long-standing history of Lakeside HS graduates pledging Sigma Nu fraternity. Lakeside alumni include RK Whitehead (GA #1592), Matt Taylor (GA #1643), Mike Moran (GA #1611), Warren Jackson (GA #1607), Bob Podsialdo (GA #1608), Jeff Kingsfield (GA #1655), Wayne Aaron (GA #1653), Grant Norwood (GA #1673) and Logan Driskell (GA #1679) just to name a few.

Billy still recalls the wonderful memories of being a Sigma Nu at Georgia Tech. He was elected Commander of the chapter in 1989. "I lived in the house my junior and senior years and my roommates included Jon Hamel (GA #1668), Stosh Bennett (GA #1657) and Paul McGowan (GA #1654). I took care of our house dog Hooter, who was a little brown dog from the Humane Society. Hooter always snuck into the football games with us and sat up in the stands just like a season ticket holder."

Billy says he pledged Sigma Nu primarily because of the wide range of backgrounds, personalities, and types of young men found there. "The fabric and the texture of Sigma Nu was so diverse and so amazing," he said. "There has never been another four year period that I have laughed so hard and experienced such a remarkable sense of brotherhood."

Just like every alumnus who walked through the doors of Gamma Alpha, some of the best moments of Billy's life happened at the Sigma Nu house. His favorite memories include: road trips to Auburn ("it was easy to get there and [there were] very attractive women," he said); and a memorable trip to Citrus Bowl in Orlando when Georgia Tech won the National Championship in 1990. "I had a great time with Bill Lamb (GA #1662), Lenny Zaprowski (GA #1661), Wayne Aaron and Todd Oglesby (GA #1659) at that game," he recalls.

"One year we entered our version of the Bat Mobile in the Wreck Parade," he remembers. "We were disqualified when the judges realized that we had modified the windshield wipers to shoot lighter fluid onto the back exhaust pipe in an effort to mimic the fire exhaust of Batman's ride."

Other great memories revolved around the Sigma Nu pool. "The pool was absolutely central," he said. "KV, bamboo tiki huts and bridges designed by B C majors Matt Williams (GA #1621) and Derek Welch (GA #1620), greased watermelon events for Greek Week, and getting tossed into pool on a birthday, pinning or engagement. And the annual dumping of the Phi Delt pledges was another reason to celebrate. "

Billy majored in architecture at Tech, which is still one of the more challenging and demanding degrees, and graduated in December of 1990. He worked for four years in the Design & Construction division of Chick-fil-A before going into full-time ministry for families and youth in 1996. Rev. Phenix joined the North Point Community Church staff in 2000 and was instrumental in starting Buckhead Church in 2002 where he now serves as Director of Family Ministry.

Billy met his wife Joy, a California native who graduated from UCLA and received her MBA from Southern Cal, when her company A&E Television moved her to Atlanta to open their east coast sales office. After dating for 2 years, they were married in 1997 and have two children: daughter Ellie (5) and son Josh (4).

Of Sigma Nu, Billy will always have great memories. "Bob Podsiadlo was a great pledge marshall," he said. "And Alan Shuman (GA #1635) was a brilliant big brother. All of the brothers were creative, interesting, and different. I look back on my years at Sigma Nu and marvel at how each of those guys made a positive impact on me and changed me. For that, I will always feel blessed and grateful."

For more than 110 years, Sigma Nu at Georgia Tech has offered young men a reliable standard that emphasizes academic excellence combined with a dedication to promoting effective leadership skills and appropriate social development. And Rev Billy Phenix brought that message home with a BANG!

AMEN...and thank you Rev. Billy Phenix (GA #1656), for MAKING A DIFFERENCE...ONE BROTHER AT A TIME !