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Fate and Dan Darkes In Dan Darkes’ case, Darkes did not find Pi Kappa Alpha. Pi Kappa Alpha found him.

Dan Darkes was playing freshman football at the University of Pennsylvania and met a boy named Dennis, the roommate of his friend, Mark Perna. The three boys were all from South Florida and Dan found quick friendship through the geographical bond.

It was when Mark received an invite to a rush function that Dan decided to just “tag along”.

As fate would have it, Dan thoroughly enjoyed the rushing experience with Pi Kappa Alpha and “was happy to pledge when asked”, he said.

Dan went from living in suburban south Florida to an urban Ivy League environment. In the years of 1967-1971, his experiences, he said, were more like “hard-to-forget happenings.”

Although the story of “the Slum” is special in its own way, “most brothers don’t need to hear my take on it again,” Dan said. “Those of us that could, [we] helped out at the new house to try and speed up occupancy.”

Following graduation, Dan returned to FT. Lauderdale and took on a construction job he already held for previous summers.

“Before very long, for several reasons, we decided to relocate to Tallahassee,” Dan recalled. “At that time ‘we’ were my wife, my daughter and me.”

Unfortunately, for some time, Dan had no luck getting into the line of work he desired. Fate would take its role on stage again as having another daughter in the family pushed Dan into taking on a job he never had before: electrical work.

Within a few years, Dan reached the master electrician level and opened a business of his own.

The years, however, did not chip away at Dan's contact with the fraternity and fellow brothers. Dan always tries to make it to Founders’ Day and says it is there he spots “many of the usual suspects.”

“On a more regular basis, a few of us exchange notes and I maintain contact with Mark Perna and Paul Zaentz,” he said.

The alumni truly finds faith in the fraternity’s ability to turn boys living together in the same house, into brothers; it does not matter where one is from and how far away the “from” is.

“Being at Penn helped me “learn how to learn” and the fraternity helped teach me what it is like to meet and deal with people from very different backgrounds — that I have no experience with,” Dan said. “This was very valuable to my dealing with customers with very different backgrounds throughout north Florida.”

Dan's own grandchildren come from different, varied backgrounds.

“[My] grandson is in Piedmont, California and [my] granddaughter is in Jacksonville, Florida,” Dan revealed. “Both of my daughters have had successful professional careers, are married to great guys and the grandkids are a trip!”

Dan speaks to Pi Kappa Alpha’s many undergraduates throughout Founders’ Day and holds one truth close to his heart.

“If not for Pi Kappa Alpha, I would never have returned to Penn after graduation,” Dan said. “It is special that a bunch of guys with entirely different backgrounds and accomplishments can sit down at a table and still be ‘brothers’.”