Joe Matt ’72

Brother Joe Matt ’72 is extremely proud of the work that his pledge class did with starting the Little Sisters Organization, which proved to be extremely successful. In fact, several of the Little Sisters gave Joe his nickname ‘JJ’, which came from his first two initials. We sat down with Joe for a brief Q&A about his time in Delta Chi and what he’s been up to since: 

Q: Describe the fraternity as you remember it in your time frame.

A: When I pledged in the spring of 1969 it was an eclectic group of guys who got along and lived together in the house and enjoyed going to football games, having parties on weekends sometimes with live bands, playing intramural sports with other fraternities (which we rarely won but played well), and doing well academically.

Q: Do you remember any incidents / funny stories from your DX days?

A: The hiring of John Russell as our live in cook was significant. He was always there puttering around in the kitchen willing to fix you something if you missed breakfast or lunch and he could tell us numerous stories of his life in Rural Retreat, VA. I remember him giving Ken Brier and George Esler his recipe for making wine when they were into fermenting and distilling.

It was a sad and traumatic day when Alex Kalymon had his motorcycle accident in which he lost his lower leg. Fortunately he made a great recovery and continued to manage the kitchen.

Many more stories of playing Whales Tales while drinking the beer left over in the keg after a party, playing Risk and bridge during finals weeks, and the impromptu parties when Frank Morrey would be in town due to his flight schedule.

Q: Did you live in the house? 

A: I lived in the house for two years 69-70 & 70-71. My senior year I was one of the Saline 4 who moved into a haunted house in Saline. Lots of stories to someday tell! I returned to live the fall of 72 in the house in the basement with the boarder Novi to take several required classes that were only available in the fall semester which I hadn’t realized the previous year.

Q: Who were your roommates?  

A: Mike “Meat Pie” Koziel was my roommate for two years in the 3rd floor room across from Don Leckey and next to the dorm room which wasn’t being used.

Q: What about your membership in Delta Chi makes you the most proud?

A: One is that my pledge class was instrumental in starting up the Little Sisters organization and it proved to be very successful and helped invigorate the chapter.

Q: Did you have a nickname and if so, how did you get it?

A: My nickname was ‘JJ’ for my first two initials. It was given to me by several of the little Sisters once we established their organization.

Q: What was your undergraduate degree?   What was the first job you took after college?

A: I graduated with a BS in Oceanography in Dec. 1972. Moved back home in NJ and did odd jobs until I landed my first real job as an oceanographer with the Naval Oceanography Office at the Washington Naval Yard in Washington DC in spring 1974. Within a month of starting there I was sent to San Francisco to board the USNS Silas Bent – one of their 15 oceanographic survey ships conducting surveys to support the fleet throughout the world. I would work for the oceanographic Office for 10.5 yrs spending a total of nearly 3yrs in 2 or 3 month deployments conducting surveys in the Atlantic & Pacific Oceans and the Caribbean, Bering, & Greenland Seas. During that time I worked for the Special Projects branch whose tasking was to conduct surveys for the submarine force to safely do their pre overseas workups and test new equipment and missiles. On my last 3 survey periods I was the Senior Scientist in charge of planning and conducting the surveys and supervising a scientific crew of 20-24 people.

Late 1984 I transferred to establish a new oceanographer position on the staff of the Director of Naval Intelligence in the Pentagon. I managed the collection of bathymetric and oceanographic data by intelligence sources and methods, the processing and analysis of the data, and the production of data bases to support the Fleet. I transformed a struggling classified chart program into the Navy’s top priority charting program when I retired in 2006.

I was at work in the Pentagon on 9/11/2001 and my office was very close to the area struck by the plane, heard the boom, felt the building shudder, and was able to exit the building along with all of my workmates to safety.

I spent a total of 32yrs working as a civilian oceanographer for the Navy and was awarded the Navy’s Civilian Superior Commendation Award when I retired.

Q: Did you go to graduate school?  Additional degrees – what schools?

A: I took graduate level classes in oceanography at the University of New Orleans, and classes for an MBA at the University of Southern MS, but due to my traveling and subsequent move to work in the Pentagon did not receive a Master’s Degree in either.

Q: Where have you lived?

A: I grew up in northwestern NJ, and lived in DC, MS, & MD during my career and currently own homes in MD & MS.

Q: Tell us about your family and interests.

A: My wife Lois of 37 years passed away in 2013, we had no children and live alone with my faithful lab – Ranger.

I enjoy the outdoors, camping, fishing, & hunting locally in the east and try to arrange a big game hunt in NM, CO, or WY each year.

I’m a member of the local Ruritan Club where I volunteer to raise money for local uses and volunteer at the local food bank to pick up and restock the food for the food bank.

I have been involved in the local Ducks Unlimited and National Wild Turkey chapters as an officer and chairman. I also spent 5 years as a volunteer Hunter Safety Course instructor for the state of MD.

Q: What would you say are your life’s biggest successes?

A: My biggest successes are that I worked my way up the ladder at the Naval Oceanographic Office to become a section head and Senior Scientist when conducting oceanographic surveys. The second was taking a struggling classified chart program and establishing solid requirements, collection guidance, providing prompt tailored products, and having it evolve into the digital age for electronic navigation as the Navy’s top priority charting program.