Catching Up With Brother Jay Jenkins

Thanks to Jay Jenkins for sharing with us his life experiences… here he is, in his own words:

My name is Jay Jenkins. I’m originally from Lakewood, NY. I came to Michigan on a Navy ROTC scholarship in September 1971. I was overwhelmed by the dorm experience and wanted something smaller and friendlier than a building of 10,000 students! So, I looked into fraternity life to see what I could find. I don’t think I looked at any place other than Delta Chi. It seemed like a great fit from the start.  I loved the fact that it was smaller and had a diverse population.

My favorite Delta Chi memories are easy to recall: my very best friend and buddy was Buck Crouthamel*. We would play cribbage for hours, with anyone who would join us- drinking lots of beer and solving the world’s problems. In the 70’s, the problems were easy to solve! The other great memory is one we all share, going to the “Big House” on Saturdays to see the Wolverines beat down who ever ventured into our stadium. We never lost a home game the four years I was there!  There were intramural sports, parties, streaking (not me, just Pete and a few other brave souls…), fireworks wars across the street, and our beloved JR.

I did manage to make it on the Dean’s list my senior year but that was because I got married and moved into married student housing!

I am not sure it is the craziest thing I did as an undergrad but I know one of the most fun things – painting the rock… that wonderful tradition.  Preparation was critical – the right amount of alcohol, the right amount of paint, and the nastiest clothes you could find. In the dead of the night, we’d sneak down the street, slosh a solid base coat over the preceding artist’s palette, and proceed to paint the ever-awesome Delta Chi letters and our own name to complete the process… all the while, hoping not to get caught by police, other fraternities, sororities or anyone in authority. Thankfully there were a large number of brothers to ensure a job quickly well done.

I graduated from in August 1975 and was immediately commissioned as an Ensign in the US Navy. I earned my degree in Naval Architecture and looked forward to applying all that I had learned once I got onboard ships! It was more than three years into my career before I got a chance to be a naval engineer. At that point, I transferred to the Engineering Duty Officer Program and attended the Naval Postgraduate School where I earned my Master’s in Mechanical Engineering. I spent 15 years in public and private shipyards around the country and at the Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington, DC.

After 21 years, I retired from active duty, walked out one door as a Naval Officer and into another as a civilian shipbuilder. I eventually worked my way up to running a shipyard in Gulfport, Mississippi where we built carbon fiber composite super structures for the Navy’s newest destroyers. It was an awesome job with nearly 1,000 people working for me, state of the art technology and more fun than I ever dreamed possible leading and guiding an organization!

In October of 2012 I said goodbye to shipbuilding and retired for as second time at the age of 59. Happy? You bet!! I joined my bride of 40 years and our three daughters in a highly successful marketing company that sells great weight loss and pain management products. We are definitely ‘living happily ever after!’

My bride and I will be celebrating our 40th anniversary this August. Not bad for high school sweethearts! Our three daughters all live within a few miles of our home in Slidell, LA. They all married local boys and stayed close to home, which is a wonderful blessing for us! We have ten grandchildren ranging in age from 12 years to 8 months old. The oldest and youngest are princesses and the eight in between are all boys! They are frequently at grandma’s and grandpa’s house playing in the pool, riding in the boat, fishing and hanging out! We go to all their sports events and school activities and are deeply involved in their lives. It can’t get any better! We are very active in our church. I teach bible study on Wednesdays and Sundays, which is a ton of fun!

Did Delta Chi prepare me for the real world? Absolutely! It helped me learn to build friendships, to work on projects together, to lead and be lead, to study and study hard, to overcome the challenges of Calculus, to live independently- yet together- with great people; all important and necessary.

I learned that the world is made up of all kinds of people with much to contribute if we let them! I learned that a formal education is just the beginning to life – practical hands on experiences make it real and understandable.

I learned that 1705 Hill Street was a great place to be; a shelter from the overwhelming throngs of students at Michigan.  It was a respite from the craziness of the real world.

*Buck was commissioned in the Navy and flew helicopters. I’m sorry to say that he was killed in a line of duty in 1981.