Frater Philip Burmeister #315, (surname meaning ‘Master Farmer’) was born and raised in Harlan, Iowa, from where he graduated High School in 1962. Phil was the last of an interesting ‘home run’ brood of sorts, since his mother had given birth to triplets, followed by a single birth, then a set of twins, and finally, Phil. It was likely his birth order and family dynamics that set the stage for his future at NWMSU, TKE, and his career as a leader and Superintendent of schools in Missouri and Iowa.
Phil became a part of a great TKE legacy centered around Mount Ayr, Iowa, including the likes of Dick Jackson, Don Cannon, Lee King, and Paul Walker. He started NWMSU in the fall of 1962 and pledged the fall semester of 1963, majoring in History and Political Sciences, with Doc Harr as his advisor, who was the Sig Tau Chairman. Phil recalls Teke at that time as being ‘studious, but fun loving’ and remembers mixers with the Alphas, food riots, panty raids and horseback deputies sent to the campus to patrol in the tumultuous early ’60s. As part of this unrest, President JW Jones gave way to Bob Foster at the University, and his son Robert Foster also pledged TKE.
After graduating with a degree in Political Science and Sociology, and a minor in History – Phil taught at Mount Ayr from 1966 to 1968, before being drafted to the war in Vietnam. There he served in the Chaplain’s Corps from ’68 – ’70 and came back to earn a Specialist Degree of Superintendents at CMSU, Warrensburg, Missouri.
In 1970, Phil married his wife Marie, whom he had met while she was student teaching at Mount Ayr, before leaving for Vietnam. (He must have made quite an impression!) They had two sons, Jeff who works for Verizon in Maine, and Jeremy, who is a Principal and Athletic Director near Fort Collins, Colorado. Phil and Marie will soon be grandparents for the second time.
1971 – 1973 was spent in Ridgeway, Missouri, as Superintendent and 1973 – 1976 in Grant City, Missouri. In 1976, Phil went back to his starting point as Superintendent of schools at Mount Ayr, Iowa where he worked until retirement in 2001. Phil was the youngest Superintendent in both Missouri and Iowa, for five years each.
Phil took experiences derived from fraternity life and the offices of House Manager and Prytanis, and turned them into a career as Superintendent – which can be accurately described as ‘a House Manager and President rolled into one’. His observation is the morality, brotherhood and people skills gained as a Delta Nu TKE had much to do with his interaction with people throughout his career. Phil cites his greatest career rewards as the relationships and experiences gained from leading and mentoring people – his lasting legacy.