Legacy Spotlight – the Garfield Family

By Brian A. Hoffman —

Tradition is defined as “an inherited, established, or customary pattern of thought, action, or behavior,” according to Merriam-Webster. Zeta Beta Tau is proud of its vast history and traditions, as well as those associated with the antecedent Fraternities Kappa Nu, Phi Alpha, Phi Epsilon Pi and Phi Sigma Delta. Further, alumni often seek to continue the tradition of their family lineage by having their son join ZBT when possible.

In 2020, the Fraternity is proud to recognize several chapters celebrating their centennial anniversary of initial founding, whether in ZBT or an antecedent. One of those in their 100th year is Lambda Chapter at the University of Texas at Austin. While records over 100 years may be difficult to track, one constant at Lambda Chapter has been the Garfinkle/Garfield family. Raymond Garfinkle was among the founders of the Lambda Chapter of Phi Sigma Delta in 1920. His son, Larry Garfield, is a PSD Lambda, class of 1963; Larry and Raymond never discussed Phi Sig at length, but reflecting on his experience, Larry believes Raymond “was very proud that [he] chose to pledge the chapter that [Raymond] and others had founded at UT some 40 years earlier.” Following the merger between ZBT and PSD in 1970, Larry’s son, Michael, joined ZBT at Texas, graduating in 1987. Michael “knew [he] was going to UT at young age and wanted to keep the fraternity tradition going. It was a no-brainer.” And now, Michael’s son, Adam, is a sophomore ZBT at Texas, next-in-line for the family experience.

At Lambda, “Legacy is Law,” as the Chapter consistently initiates the highest number and percent of legacies across all ZBT chapters. Their pride in tradition is no secret, and the Chapter benefits from this by consistently having engaged alumni despite any geographic barriers. When Larry and Michael recently visited Adam on campus, they noted how, even though Lambda is in a different house than it used to be, “it is great to see how the Chapter continues to keep memorabilia and history through the generations.” Brotherhood for a lifetime, with respect for the Fraternity’s history.

When the Garfields realized Adam is likely the first four-generation Lambda, and certainly among the first four-generation ZBT families at any school, the family was “extremely proud” of that designation. Michael recently spent time with Adam during alumni and parent events, saying it “has been such a pleasure visiting him at the ZBT house, [comparing] stories of things ZBT continues to offer” for the undergraduate and alumni brothers. Larry also feels a sense of continuity because when he visits Adam, he notices Adam talking about his father and grandfather the same way Michael did when Larry visited him as an undergraduate. At a school which prides itself on legacy tradition, Adam recognizes it is both an honor and responsibility to carry on the family legacy. As Adam put it, “My bloodline is one of the founding brothers of our Fraternity. It was destined for me to be a Texas ZBT. 100 years later and I’m in the same spot as my great grandfather.”

To his fellow legacies and future legacies, Adam encourages them to “embrace being a legacy; you’re following in your family’s footsteps, so wear the name proudly.” To the dads, Michael encourages them to “[tell] their sons about their college and Fraternity experience and to enjoy every minute of college life,” and for dads to “visit their kids as often as possible to share in the same traditions.” And of course, Larry encourages the grandparent generation to “tell stories of how you grew up” and challenges undergraduates to recognize that “alumni are the lifeblood of the Fraternity and maybe one day they will have their own kids follow in those same footsteps.”

Family matters. Tradition matters. Fraternity matters. When all three of these align, the results are truly amazing.