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Gary Harrell ’84 Considers Alpha Tau Just as Important as His Education at GT

Your college education has no doubt played a critical role in your development. But Gary Harrell '84 would be the first to tell you Kappa Sigma was equally influential.

“Georgia Tech taught me how to learn and think,” he explains. “My Co-op experience at Georgia Power taught me how to work and be a professional, but Kappa Sigma taught me how to live in the world.”

Though Gary was initiated at the Kappa Mu Chapter at Tennessee Tech in 1979, he made his way to Atlanta for a one-year co-op student assignment at Georgia Power. His big brother at Kappa Mu told him to be sure and look up the local Kappa Sig chapter.

“I started coming over to Alpha Tau when there were parties and events,” Gary explains. “I liked the guys from the first time I was there! What diversity. The first person I met was Bill Jacoby ’81 and the second was Don Kinser ’82. Anybody from that era will tell you that in and of itself defines diversity!”

There was no looking back then. The brothers of Alpha Tau quickly sold Gary on GT, leading to his transfer.

“There was also a girl in Atlanta involved—of course—but that’s a whole other story and she dumped me anyway,” he says, laughing.

Today, Gary is still thankful for each and every brother.

“All those guys—whether we agreed or disagreed—each one taught me some things," he says. "To be honest, I did not recognize that then, but I am grateful to ALL of them today. I had some experience at being part of a group from playing sports in high school, but that was nothing like living with 21 other guys. Those who were around then will remember that room 12 was not livable in 1980, so we only had space for 22 brothers.”

Though Gary says his memories would literally fill up a book, he rattled off a list of some of his favorite ones, including: 1) November 8, 1980: Georgia Tech 3, Notre Dame 3 2) PJ Haleys 3) Greek Week 4) Doug Clark and the Hot Nuts 5) The first time he saw the whole house Gator 6) Spring Break 1981 with Bill Jacoby, Del Champion ’83, Darryl Dykes ’84, Derek Ettie ’85, Bill Freese ’84, and Jeff Cooper ’85 7) Molly Hatchet 8) Lady 1 and Lady 2 9) "Let's not and say we did" 10) Luau morning with the sun rising after working all night cooking a pig and building a three-story slide!

Over the years, Gary has enjoyed seeing old photos from his Kappa Sig days, such as the barber shop quartet and the wreck parade. He also noted that a recent article in the Alpha Tauker led him to reach out to brother Pat McGarity ’56.

"That is a connection I would never had made without the newsletter," Gary says.

He’s also been a loyal donor to Alpha Tau to ensure the chapter’s legacy lives on at Georgia Tech.

“I have been the beneficiary of so much grace in my life, and looking back, I can see that finding Alpha Tau in 1980 was certainly an example of that," he says. "So much of what I do today can be traced directly back to things I learned from my brothers at Alpha Tau. I also remember that we always seemed to be struggling for money back then. Geoff Gill ’64 and the other advisors and house corporation alumni were steadfast and worked really hard, but we just couldn’t get any momentum so when the opportunity to participate in building the new house came along I wanted to be a part of making a difference for the guys that are there making Alpha Tau what it is today.”

Today, Gary lives in Charlotte, NC with Lora and their blended family of five and dog India. Trent (21) is a junior at East Carolina, Sydney (20) is a junior at Elon University, and Matthew (20) is a sophomore at Mars Hill University. Mia (18) will be entering Brevard College this fall, and Emma (16) will be a junior this fall at Myers Park High School in Charlotte.

“We have a second home in Beaufort, South Carolina where we spend a lot of time hiking, biking, golfing, and paddle boarding,” Gary explains.

On the professional side, Gary has been quite successful. As a Managing Director for a large bank marketplace, he and his team work with many of the top names in the U.S. banking industry.

Always considering Kappa Sigma a blessing, Gary invites brothers to get in touch. You can reach him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

“When I was first learning the meaning of AEKDB as a pledge almost 37 years ago, I had no idea the power of being a part of something greater,” Gary says. “Today I do, and I owe a debt of gratitude to the guys of Alpha Tau for their help on my journey.”