NORMAN — A Texas oilman who graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 1954 on Wednesday received his college fraternity’s highest volunteer honor at the new chapter house dedicated to him.
J. Denny Bartell, a 1954 graduate in geological engineering who serves as president of Legends Exploration Co. in Houston, was presented Kappa Sigma’s John G. Tower Distinguished Alumni Award by top fraternity executives Wednesday.
Bartell, pledged by OU’s Gamma Kappa chapter of Kappa Sigma in 1951, spearheaded the recent campaign to recolonize OU’s chapter and replace the aging fraternity house at 1100 College. 
Accompanied by his son and two grandsons, Bartell accepted the award Wednesday night for all alumni who donated to the house campaign.
“It’s a group effort. The alumni of this chapter have come through like champs,” he told the group of active chapter members and dozens of OU alumni brothers.
“We did it. What we’re seeing here today is the efforts of a lot of brothers.”

Bartell emphasized to the actives how the fraternity’s core values of honesty, integrity, loyalty and leadership will bring them success in life. “Remember, you are Kappa Sigs for life,” he said.

The 147-year old fraternity counts 20,000 undergraduates involved with chapters on 322 campuses in the United States. It was founded in 1869 at the University of Virginia and has an estimated 230,000 living members.
Mitchell Wilson, the fraternity’s executive director, in his first visit to the OU campus, praised the new chapter house designed by local architect Bud Miles. It replaced a house opened in the late 1940s that was one of the first Greek organizations to locate south of Lindsey Street.
“Brothers, this is something special. It doesn’t get any better than this. This is what a fraternity house is supposed to look like,” Wilson said. 
The top alumni award is named for the former U.S. Senator John G. Tower, a longtime fraternity member who was active at Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls and at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.
The award honors fraternity alumni who have achieved success in their lives and remained loyal to the fraternity.
“This is a brother that reflects all the values that we hold dear in our hearts,” Wilson said of Bartell.
The fraternity’s national treasurer, Ron Holsey, said Bartell’s dedication to Kappa Sigma remains strong.
“We ask you to give three things: your time, your talent and your treasure,” Holsey said. “Brother Bartell has given all three.”