SMU School of Engineering, Class of 1961

Our Guys ...
by Alfred Cellier

We fellows of ΒΣ (Beta Sigma) were very fortunate in careers and in life, and were able to convene happily for a reunion in October 2006.


2006 - Dave Baskett, Charley Tarpley, Keith Stevenson, Ross Faulkner, Larry Beeman, Al Cellier, John Wilson

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1958 - Dave Baskett, Charley Tarpley; 1957 - Keith Stevenson, Ross Faulkner, Larry Beeman, Al Cellier, John Wilson

We enrolled in the fall of 1956 at Southern Methodist University, School of Engineering (Dave, and Charley, I think, in Spring of 1957), and we all graduated in 1961.

After the freshman year, we alternated between school and work, 8 weeks at a time. Our intensive schedules - combined with modest means, and inclinations - did not tend us toward standard fraternity formalities. So, at some point early on, in mock, we formed an ad hoc, unstructured, fraternal organization - the Beta Sigma (ΒΣ for short), and applied the appropriate decals to our car rear windows. Some of us ultimately had this affiliation listed next to our senior photos in the yearbook - see those further down this page.

All of us shared the same work/study rotation, our group having the work period in the beginning of the school year. We bonded in the early years before our paths became diverse - some of us were electrical, others mechanical or aeronautical. We became quite close during those five years at SMU, and afterwards until geographic dispersion separated us.

I cannot emphasize enough how influential these folks were in my life; we shared many fun times, but also supported each other in myriad ways. Here are just a few of the ways that my "brothers" helped me in those years; I''m adding things as they come to mind, so keep checking back here.

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Dave Baskett was a great friend and a master mechanic. Dave showed our group how early fatherhood was properly done, with son Bill in his crib alongside Turtle Creek. He was our group''s go-to guy for automobile issues, and a keen power boatman and water-skier. During all of 1960, I lived in a house, owned by his father-in-law, right next door to Dave - which allowed me to excape from my very tiny garage apartment of the prior year. Dave loved to drive my 1956 Chevy V8, and I enjoyed learning to double-clutch his 1954 Chevy. We shared lots of Kingston Trio records, among others. Dave passed away on June 4, 2013. Dave, we miss you.

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Charley Tarpley, a long-term friend of Dave, was in the opposite study/work rotation, in school while the rest of us worked, so I never actually met him until this 2006 reunion!

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Keith Stevenson was a lifesaver, giving me rides to SMU from my far south Dallas home during the freshman year, saving me from a very lengthy bus ride with transfers. A few years after graduation, we were apartment mates for just over a year. Keith missed out on the (7.4) earthquake that enhanced our impulsive July 4 trip to Mexico City, by returning to Dallas a day early. We moved to a lovely site overlooking Bachmann Lake, which was a great place for a Halloween party. And thanks to Keith for joining me in our introduction to sailing - that bright yellow Lido 14 was so much fun, on White Rock Lake and everywhere else. Keith''s GTO would push you back in your seat!

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Ross Faulkner and I met through our shared enthusiasm for ham radio; in fact, I met him "on the air" as he operated from his aunt''s house in North Dallas, early in our freshman year. He had not brought a key from home, so was sending Morse code by touching two wires together. Ross was an energetic builder, of teams and of things, and we soon were successful in obtaining funds to modernize the aging amateur radio station in the upper floor of Caruth Hall. One of our proud accomplishments there was installing a rotatable triband antenna above the roof, with a round world map that had a moving light beam showing the direction our signals would go. Ross taught me to listen deep in the receiver noise for the distant weak, and rare, signals during those wonderful, high solar flux years. Ross passed away on November 7, 2013. We miss you, Ross.

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Larry Beeman made me mobile during freshman year, by letting me practice driving his car, and take the driving license test in it (twice). And, when jobs were still hard to find in the summer following the SMU freshman year, his father, who had a paint store, helped me get work as a painters helper - not glamorous, but at least some income to buy a car! And, I believe that it was Larry who taught me to write more elegant "9"s by starting at the bottom. Larry was a key carpooler when I was living in the far reaches of South Dallas, not only to SMU, but also to Texas Instruments where we both worked.

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Alfred Cellier - that''s me. But, enough about me.

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John Wilson was so much fun as a carpool member in our commute to and from SMU though downtown Dallas. And, in corraling speeding vehicles on Trinity River bridges. He knows what I mean. That was sure a sweet 1955 Chevy hardtop coupe. John also tried at least once to improve my social skills, but did not succeed in that effort. John passed away on June 17, 2016. John, we miss you, rest in peace.

The SMU Rotunda yearbook pages with all of our 1961 senior class can be viewed or downloaded as a pdf (2MB).

By the way - remember how freshman physics (with Dr. "Spike" McDonald) and chemistry (with dear Dr. Jesky) were apparently the "flunkout" courses to weed the class for compatibility? Here are the respective department entries from the 1957 Rotunda volume:

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I''ll wager that you were unaware that the SMU Rotunda is viewable online. Browsing is quite slow; and it is seachable, but the search is very flawed. But, the books are there! Of course I discovered this only after wrestling with these five heavy volumes on my flatbed scanner ...


Have a look at the SMU campus, as seen from the south in 1961. 1961_SMU_Campus.jpg

For readers who are unaware, the original Caruth Hall (Engineering) was the building just to the right of the central vertical crease, and about 1/3 down the photo. It was replaced as of 2010. In the following 1961 view of the north side, you can see our rooftop antenna.


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