Lane Kendig ’62: The Unique Community That Was and Is Delta Chi

One of those memories is of living in the cold dorm while renovating the room next door. “As an architect, I had to have a drafting table, and my roommate needed a desk,” Lane explains. “So we built a desk from a flush door and some two-by-fours, decorated with bamboo curtains and painted the floor Chinese red.”

From the very beginning during his pledging days, Lane enjoyed messing with the brothers. As a pledge, one of the initiation traditions was to make the pledges eat a Spanish onion. “I succeeded in messing with the brothers, as I love to eat green onions, so I ate the whole thing and laughed,” said Lane. Another fond memory involving pledging was during the fall when he was one of several brothers doing work on the house and supervising the pledges. One afternoon, he was left alone with them, and they jumped him. They tried to carry him upstairs to put him in the phone closet. “I started grabbing and breaking the posts on the stairs while telling them they would have to pay for replacement, and they backed down,” he said.

Another fond memory is of the year Delta Chi decided to become a jock house. As Lane recalls, they didn’t have a large membership or many athletic brothers, but they were determined to enter every intramural event. “We succeeded in fielding a team for all sports,” he explains. “Gary Fassbender and I decided to wrestle. We had to go to a series of training sessions. We were in the lower weight classes against several opponents who had wrestled in high school. The two of us made it to finals and quarterfinals, mainly because we did not have to drop 10 or more pounds. I can no longer remember how we ranked at the end of the year, but we moved from near last to at least one of the top 10, maybe higher.”

One of his favorite memories is that of winning the Michigras parade with a float characterized by a giant pink tank with a demented Castro sitting in the turret. The gun barrel had a bamboo pole in it, and as the float went by the judges’ platform, a flagpole was launched directly at them. They all leaped back as the little red flag imprinted with the word “Bang!” unfurled.

Lane greatly enjoyed brotherhood through Delta Chi and is grateful that he has been able to keep in contact with Frank Spies ’61 for many years. Frank recruited him to Delta Chi and was also his freshman year roommate in south quad.

Following graduation, Lane attended grad school at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and received his Masters of City and Regional Planning. From 1963 to 1965, he served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy. “I served on the USS Abbot DD629 out of Newport, Rhode Island, and Philadelphia from 1963 to 1964 and the U.S. Naval Advisory Group in Vietnam from 1964 to 1965. I was an assistant gunnery officer and deck division officer on the Abbot. In Vietnam, I was a construction advisor to the Vietnamese Navy and worked on making improvements at all the Vietnamese naval bases. I was stationed in Saigon. When U.S. forces were sent in country in 1965, I was stationed in Da Nang. Another officer and I had access to swift boats then under CIA control. We alternated sunset to dawn patrols with a Vietnamese crew and Nung boarding party. After two months of testing, I was returned to Saigon to locate and design five bases for Navy forces including swift boats.”

After returning from Vietnam, Lane took a position as director of local planning with the Bucks County Planning Commission. In 1976, he became the director of the Department of Planning, Zoning and Environmental Quality for Lake County. It was in 1982 that he founded the multistate planning consulting firm that is now Kendig Keast Collaborative.

“I have written some seven books on planning and am working on another. These include Performance Zoning(1980), Community Character and Planning with Community Character (2010). I also have designed several developments that have been very successful and will hopefully be long lasting places.”

Lane’s first wife, Wilma, died of brain cancer. Together they had one daughter, Heather. Heather is mother to Lane’s three grandchildren: Jake, Katrina and Reese. Jake is into soccer, and both girls are playing ice hockey. They live in Rolling Meadows, Ill., which is about four hours away from his home in Wisconsin.

Years later, Lane married Elaine Carmichael, also a city planner. She is involved in economic analysis, tourism and museums, while he is busy with zoning and site planning. “There are just the two of us up here in Door County, Wis. My first wife and I built a cottage in the mid-1980s as a vacation place to relax and sail. It seemed to be an ideal location for retirement, so I designed our home here on the lot next to the cottage. We both like to travel, this year having spent more than two months in Australia, New Zealand and Hawaii. We have been to Europe and Antarctica, Bali, Singapore and Cambodia in recent years. I sail and have three sailboats from a one-person Laser to a 19-foot trimaran. I ski most winters in Utah. I also spend a lot of time doing wood sculptures. In spring, I plant a garden for beans, peas, cucumbers, tomatoes and greens. We freeze beans and some tomatoes to carry over the winter.”

As Lane looks ahead to his retirement years, he is hopeful that his planning work has a lasting value to the profession. “As a professional planner, I have always tried to provide communities with superior products. There have been staff planners and elected officials who would not accept that. I accepted being fired, rather than produce plans or ordinances that would not work or would have undesirable consequences. I am content with that as I see many consultants who fail to deal with major issues, producing mediocre products to make a buck.  As I think about my younger Delta Chi brothers, I would encourage them try to find something that they enjoy doing. Do not look for ‘exciting’ as an awful lot of most jobs require attention to the mundane that is essential to achieving the big things. Always try to do better and listen to criticism. Often even the most insignificant concerns have a small element that should be considered.”