Wayne Nelson D.D. S. ’89: “[I hope you remember] that I always pushed the envelope of fun”
Q: Describe the fraternity as you remember it in your time frame.
A: When I was being rushed, it was a small fraternity of roughly 25-30 guys. My hallmate at Bursley, Jim Portelli ’90 was a legacy at Delta Chi. His cousin, Ken Radlich was a brother. Jim pledged the term before. What attracted me first about the House was, of course, I would know somebody already who had similar interests i.e.: hair dos and hair don’ts. Also, Jim was quickly becoming a best friend. I liked the fact that it was a smaller house and that lifelong bonds could be developed more easily. I guess I could say our pledge class and the next three under the tutelage of myself and Chris Sujek ’90 as pledge trainers, as well as Jim Portelli and Rob Fogler ’91, kind of gelled the House into a kind of well-schooled idiots.
Q: What are you fondest memories of being a Delta Chi at Michigan?
A: One of the first memorable events took place during Hell Week. This was a time when all the pledges had to live in the House for the entire week. Delta Chi has a policy of no hazing. Well, word got out via Jim Portelli that I wanted to be hazed (which was true, because I was old school and wanted to do some crazy stuff to get into a fraternity). Since I hadn’t shown up at the House for Hell Week and was actively searching for somebody to call me out, I decided to stay, as usual, in my dorm on Tuesday night. Twelve guys busted in around 10 p.m., my girlfriend screaming, and dragged me out to a hatchback outside the dorm with my feet and arms tied with extension cord. I was then driven to the Arb, where I was given a few shots of the finest liquor and released at the corner of East and South U to reconnoiter at the House sans clothing. That one mile walk/run was the most exhilarating trip of my young life and I tipped my nonexistent cap at a few ladies along the way. They were all waiting on the steps when I returned with a cold beer and I stayed there the rest of the week like I should have done in the first place.
Q: Do you remember any incidents / funny stories from your DX days?
A: There are way too many stories, but in retrospect, not enough. The big thing I really enjoyed, especially on a hot spring evening after a night out with my brothers, was to leave the House and walk down Oxford St. through the Arb and down to the Huron River for a late night swim. We would get as many guys as we could, sometimes 10-15 guys all enjoying the freedom of college life. I always got to laugh when we would encounter young couples having a romantic moment on the bank and pass wordlessly, 10-15 obnoxious young men, into the river. Talk about a mood killer! During the winter months, we would sneak into the tow tank in the East Engineering building for a swim. I also remember bringing the pledges to White Castle during Hell Week. My good brother, Chris “The Crusher” Sirosky ’91 owned a small Honda. All the pledges, including ourselves, would leave the House and pile into The Crusher’s Honda. Chris and I would occupy the front bucket seats and the six pledges would occupy the back bench seat. This made for a very cozy ride to the castle and a way for the pledges to bond.
Q: Did you live in the House? Who were your roommates?
A: I lived in the House with Jim Portelli in Middle Earth and then in JR’s room.
Q: Did you have a nickname and if so, how did you get it?
A: I’ve always been fascinated with the digestive tract. Whether it be sphincters, ascending/descending colons, duodenums, ileums, the whole gamut. I came back from the bar one night and declared my name from here on out shall be POOP. And, so it was.
Q: What about your membership in Delta Chi makes you the most proud?
A: It was always a struggle to maintain good membership numbers. We knew we had a great bunch of guys with a really sarcastic sense of humor, but really intelligent as well. During rush week, we always worked really hard recruiting i.e. putting posters up, coming up with innovative, yet ridiculous themes for each night during rush. We had a lot of fun late nights, but inevitably it came down to recruiting our friends and the occasional guy who had no idea what he was getting himself into.
Q: Do you stay in touch with any of your Delta Chi brothers? Who?
A: I keep in touch with Chris Sirosky, Chris Sujek and Jim Portelli. My father was initiated as an honorary Delta Chi. He was very involved with the House and pledge weekends and they were pall bearers at his funeral.
Q: What was your undergraduate degree? What was the first job you took after college?
A: I graduated with a B.S. from the School of Natural Resources with a concentration in Fish Biology. I also, during that time, fulfilled my undergraduate requirements for dental school. I worked a year in the field on the St. Clair River, was part of the group that discovered the Tube Nosed Goby, an invasive species from the Black Sea that has invaded the Great Lakes due to ballast water release from international freighters. Not to worry, because of the tube-like shape of the nose of these Gobys, they have since become the laughingstock of the lower Great Lakes (especially the Mottled Sculpins, who refer to them as Big Nose or Trumpet Face) and it seems they have been spotted in great numbers in the St. Lawrence Seaway heading back to the evil which spawned them. After having a degree from the University of Michigan and making only five dollars per hour in my major, I decided dentistry might be the thing for me. I graduated from the University of Illinois in Chicago School of Dentistry in 1994. I have a private practice in Howell, MI –my hometown.
Q: Did you go to graduate school ? Additional degrees – what schools?
A: I have a Bachelor of Science in Dental Science and a Doctorate of Dental Surgery. I was an Associate Dentist in a practice in Hartland, MI and then bought a practice in Howell, MI in 2003.
Q: Tell us about your family and interests.
A: I’ve been married to my wife, Kasia, for 14 years. The dental technician who makes dentures for my office let me know that her niece from Poland was visiting all summer and asked if I would like to show her around. On the first date she could barely speak English and I couldn’t speak any Polish, but she was hot, so I figured I’d try the language of love. I was 35 and never married, so obviously I wasn’t fluent in that either. I took her canoeing on the Great Huron, took her to dinner at Dominic’s in Ann Arbor, drinks at Charlie’s, and, of course, a tour of the House! She had no idea what a fraternity was and the fact that anybody could live in such unsanitary conditions was perplexing. Yet, after dating long-distance for two years, she decided to marry me, much to her later chagrin. We have an eight-year-old daughter who takes after me in her sense of humor, especially making fun of her mom’s unintentional butchery of American slang.
Q: Hobbies you have?
A: Golf, bicycling , macramé owls (Robert Fogler is my apprentice) and pets—we have three cats, one dog, 10 turtles, one baby mourning dove and three fish.
Q: Volunteer work?
A: VINA Community Dental Clinic—I volunteer and am also an adjunct instructor for U of M dental students.
Q: What would you say are your life’s biggest successes?
A: My daughter, who will be entering the U of M freshman class in 2026, or else she will be living across the swamp (we have a wetland in our backyard).
Q: What advice would you give the younger Delta Chi members?
A: Have the most fun you can as an undergrad. It doesn’t get any better than that. Go to grad school and buckle down then.
Q: What do you want people to remember about you 50 years from now?
A: That I always pushed the envelope of fun and that, hopefully, you will have had a hard time prying the bottle of Braumeister from my cold, dead hand. (Nowadays, it’s Two Hearted Ale.)
Q: Would you like to mention your business for anyone that might be searching for your product, expertise, or just information to help a brother out with.
A: If any of the brothers have the slightest interest in Dental School/Dentistry, look me up. I have a successful practice and will be looking for an associate/partner to take over in about five or six years…as long as you are not a jerk!
Any brothers who wish to get in touch with Wayne may do so by calling 586-201-5704 or via email at [email protected].