Michael W. O'Leary, 1970
Truthfully, there is no fraternal brotherhood quite like Omega Mu at the University of Maine. We are proud of our history, and we are proud of the impressive number of fraternal brothers who played on many University of Maine athletic teams. With conviction and commitment, our Omega Mu athlete brothers brought a great deal of joy and satisfaction to the university community, creating many wonderful memories since the first baseball team was established at Maine State College in the 1870's. The worked together for the success of each Maine team, and the overall civic good of the University of Maine. The sheer number of Omega Mu athlete brothers is an unqualified triumph for the University of Maine. They each gave their best efforts on each team, and what they achieved perfectly compliments what we fraternally believe: drive and determination. It is a heady athletic legacy. Accordingly, their accomplishments claim our fraternal attention and respect. For the eminence of their athletic success; and, above all, for being our Omega Mu brothers, we are proud. Therefore, in the linked soul and spirit of our long fraternal history, we gratefully remember and celebrate our QTV and Omega Mu brothers who participated on many varsity athletic teams at the University of Maine. Their sacrifice of time was worth the effort for them and the student body at the University of Maine who watched them play. They created many warm memories since the early 1870’s. For the eminence of their athletic success; and, above all, for being our Omega Mu brothers, we are all very proud.
Thoreau said it best: “What a difference, whether in all your walks, you meet only strangers, or in one house is one who knows you, and whom you know. To have a brother…How rare these things are.” How true that is, and we remain that way to this day. That is a heady fraternal legacy.
Omega Mu Athlete
Michael W. O'Leary,
"The Times They Are a-Changin'"
Mud Bowl, 1968
Back Row L-R: Spook, Anthony Flaherty, Dave Smith, John Rhodes, Jimmy Dunn, Glenn Smith, Paul Dulac?, Rod Macklin, John Dolan, George Wiest, Jim Chaplin
Front Row L-R: Ernie Niles, ?, Bob Duetsch, Bob Van Dyk, Tyler Libby, George Thoma,
On hands and knees, back left, is Greg Papasodora; running forward, in the Fiji shirt. is
Mike O'Leary, second from the right
Red Wolf, lying on the bench; standing, Cliff Goudey; seated, Tyler Libby,
John Collins, Emerson Gorham
Ruth Cary, Alma Pratt, Clara Hammond
"My mom & dad came up to the house to see me in 1968. My Dad was a NY cop. Clara, our house mom, took my folks to a play! It was great!"
Mike O'Leary is standing behind the car and looking at the camera.
Mike O'Leary, who is wearing a brown jacket, is the first person who is carving on the snow wall on the left.
Bob Duetsch and John Collins, Thunder Hole, Bar Harbor
Chris Tremblay on Tom Richardson's shoulders
L-R: Leigh Morrill (behind), John Collins, Doyle Vauteur, seated; John Kimball;
behind is Dusty Rhodes
Greek Week Sing
Omega Mu, 1971
"We pulled ourselves together to escape from social probation under the leadership of Michael O’Leary by suddenly cleaning up our act and participating in all the goody-goody activities that were expected of a “good” fraternity: the snow sculpture of a drunk driving accident (designed
by “the spook”, our artistic brother) complete with red-dyed snow representing blood, participation in the IFC sing performing “The Vietnam Song” by Country Joe and the Fish:"
I don’t recall what time of year the IFC sing was, but we participated in that too.Something I don’t think Phi Gam had done in ages. After a couple brief rehearsals, here’s what the performance went like. There was a pretty good sized audience in the gym with risers in front and a main a isle down the middle. Other competing greeks waited back stage for their turn. We waited in the lobby. When we were announced, we marched down the center aisle, dressed in white shirts, dark pants. We lined up on the risers with Mike in front as conductor. He raised his hands to begin, paused, and we all whipped out dark glassed and put them on. Then, in loud
and not very melodic voice, we sang Country Joe’s “Vietnam Song” which I recall calling the “Vietnam Rag”.
“Well come on all of you big strong men, Uncle Sam needs your help again,
he got himself in a terrible jam, way down yonder in Vietnam,
put down your books and pick up a gun, we're gunna have a whole lotta fun.
and its 1,2,3 what are we fightin for?
don't ask me i don't give a dam, the next stop is Vietnam,
and its 5,6,7 open up the pearly gates. Well there aint no time to wonder why...WHOPEE we're all gunna die.
now come on wall street don't be slow, why man this's war a-go-go,
there's plenty good money to be made, supplyin' the army with the tools of the trade,
just hope and pray that when they drop the bomb, they drop it on the Vietcong.
now come on generals lets move fast, your big chance is here at last.
nite you go out and get those reds cuz the only good commie is one thats dead,
you know that peace can only be won, when you blow em all to kingdom come.
(spoken)- listen people I don't know you expect to ever stop the war if you cant sing any better than that... theres about 300,000 of you fuc|ers out there.. i want you to start singing..
now come on mothers throughout the land, pack your boys off to Vietnam,
come on fathers don't hesitate, send your sons off before its too late,
be the first one on your block, to have your boy come home in a box
When we finished, we took off our glasses, put them in our pockets, and walked out the way we had come in. I think we got some enthusiastic cheers, but there were lots of stunned faces too. It was sweet! If not for Mike O’Leary, his vision, leadership, and energy, Omega Mu of Phi Gamma Delta might have disappeared from College Ave. We all owe Mike our thanks, at least.
"If not for Mike O'Leary, his vision, leadership, and energy, Omega Mu Phi Gamma Delta might have disappeared from College Avev.
We all owe Mike our thanks."
Country Joe at Woodstock
Four brothers on Fiji Island: L to R Pat Ladd, middle behind; Bob Mennealy, middle weaing glasses; Paul Wood, wearing the bandana, and Bill Soloby
The Brothers Four
(They are all Fijis)
Simon and Garfunkel
Pure Prairie League
Country Joe and the Fish
Omega Mu, 1969
"Until about two weeks ago I still had my ticket stub for the Pete Seeger concert. Finally tossed it."
John L. Collins
Omega Mu, 1971
"Here’s another personal story related to concerts in that era. I was a pretty “straight” guy in those days, and felt we all should play by the rules, pay our way, etc. But a rebellious side of my personality seemed to be coming out. So, when Mennealy suggested we try to sneak into the concert, I eagerly agreed! We crept around the field house in the dark till we found a window that wasn’t locked and climbed through it. From there it was easy to walk around to the halls leading to the gym and get in. We got front row seats, too! Other than Mennealy, I’m not sure who else participated. Maybe Greg Papasodora. It was a great concert, I thought!"
John Sebastian at Maine, above; Woodstock, below
Robert W. Doyle
Omega Mu, 1972
"I recall the John Sebastian concert. He came on by himself and explained that the backup band was late due to a bus breakdown. He played solo all night. At the end he explained that he didn’t have a band. Great goof."
Andrew T. Soloby
Omega Mu, 1971
The Turtles at the Fiji Castle
"Oh, yes, what a beautiful night! On a fateful fall night in 1969, I had a front row seat at the Turtles concert that was held at the University of Maine: “So Happy Together”! Drinking and other embellishments had occurred earlier, and during the concert I screamed loudly, obnoxiously, and frequently to the band: “Fiji, Fiji, Fiji”. Once they played their last number, everyone rushed the stage, including me. The lead singer, Howard Kaylan, asked me, “You have been screaming Fiji, Fiji all through the show, what the hell is it?" It was explained to all of them in detail, and we invited them to the house, and they showed up an hour later, a memorable night in Fiji history. Being normal guys, they wanted to know what fraternal living was all about, and we showed them."
Robert C. Mennealy
Omega Mu, 1971
"Mennealy, Goudey and O’Leary drove to Lewiston to see a Jimi Hendrix concert that was cut short because he blew the sound system twenty minutes into it."
"There were five of us in Cliff Gowdey’s VW Bus. I remember Cliff had a little notched wooden rig so the bus wound not pop out of 4th gear. My memory is that Hendrix played a full set. I know he played most of the Are You Experienced album. Played behind his head, played with his teeth on “Hey, Joe”. He finished the set with “Purple Haze”. He encored with “Wild Thing”. He came our alone and riffed for a couple of minutes using only his right hand on the neck. Mind boggling. I think the cost was $2 or $3."
Andrew T, Soloby
Omega Mu, 1971
"I remember when you guys came back. O'Leary was doing "sets" on the bed in the Purple Room for most of one nite !! And yes, I played "back up" for him once in a while.. ..1969!!"
John L. Collins
Omega Mu, 1971
"O’Leary playing air drums along with the records of Hendrix tunes. He would close his eyes, and really wail on the invisible drums with a huge grin on his face. I was too stoned to be able to tell whether he was any good at it or not, but it sure looked like he was enjoying himself! I think he also played along with Ginger Baker with Cream songs. Those are the ones I recall specifically. The purple room may have been off the living room behind the fireplace - not sure, though."
Omega Mu Leader
L-R: Chris Eaton, Paul Pooler, Michael O'Leary, young Fiji brother, Sammy Cosgrove
Omega Mu, 1970
It was late summer of 1966 when I first met Michael O’Leary. It was a hot summer afternoon in the very beginning of freshman pre-season football tryouts. He was a tall, curly black haired tough guy from Arlington, Massachusetts. While I was a naïve, unsophisticated kid from Augusta Maine, I said, “I’m not sure I want to be here!” Mike said, “This is the best place we could be right now!” I liked O’Leary right away, and along with Tony Flaherty, we spent a great deal of time together; we became inseparable.
O’Leary was a good football player, Tony a bit less so. Mike anchored the end of our defensive line, while Tony and I played in the middle of defense. We were together off the field as well as on. These were the early days of Freshman year when lifelong friendships are made.
Later, during sophomore year, things began to change. Tony was no longer with us on the football team. Michael started defensive end but suffered many injuries, culminating with a broken leg which ended his season and eventually his football career at Maine. That was too bad!
All of our activities off the field continued with gusto! Man, Michael was like a torch hanging from a cave wall. He could light up a room! Because of this and countless other reasons, he was “rushed” hard by the so called “jock houses” in an effort for him to join their fraternity. They all said theirs was the place to be. I was getting a good deal of this same kind of pressure from upper class-men football players. We used to talk about their houses not being the place to be!
Meanwhile we seemed to be spending a great deal of time at hell-raising dance parties at a non-jock house by the name of Phi Gamma Delta; a place called FIJI Castle. There were wild beer drinking rock and roll parties we both loved, every weekend.
Where to pledge? Why not invite other football player and others to the FIJI weekend get togethers. We did and whadda ya think? A number of these people decided to pledge FIJI: John “Leo” Collins, Paul Pooler, Leigh Morrill, Johnny Kimball, Tony Flaherty, Paul Dulac and Mike O’Leary.
There were many other pledges, but these were the football players. Were we becoming a “jock house”? Maybe not, but the next year the trend continued with the Pledge class of Dick Paganucci, John and Dusty Rhodes, Chris Eaton, Jimmy Hayes, Pat Ladd, Eddie O’Bara, John Zinno and Paul Roy, among others.
We still were not really a “jock house” and thankfully never would be! We were a group of eclectic people who were as different as we were similar, and that’s the way we wanted it. Omega Mu was the perfect place for Michael O’Leary and the rest of us, ex Marines and whomever.
Life at the Castle was always interesting. One particular event stands out as a case in point and also highlights Michael’s life at Fiji. O’Leary’s leadership saved Omega Mu! Our chapter was struggling to survive social probation and possible expulsion from campus resulting from the now famous Island party where we burned down Baker Island!
Collins relates our constant 60’s battles with the Dean of the College who seemed bent on kicking Phi Gamma Delta off campus; and this was even before we burned down the island! Leo Collins remembers O’Leary being elected president of the House sometime after the island fire. He said it was lucky for us all, considering Michaels infectious energy, leadership and resolve to get us out of trouble with the college. First, he needed to calm down the “rebellious elements” in the House and that the only way for all of us to atone for our sins was for all of us to become “nice” to everyone: the Dean, the college in general, and Pi Phi, our sister sorority. How do we do that, we asked. “Simple”, says Mike, “we become the good boys of UMO!” OK, so we started!
We rushed an art major for the first time. We called him “Spook”. His job was to create a snow sculpture that would endear us to the entire college community, especially Dean Rand. He did it, and the theme was “Drunk Driving Kills”! Clever! Phi Gamma Delta was complimented for its social conscience.
The Inter-fraternity Sing also became part of the strategy. John Collins related the following vignette. A group of us, dressed in white shirts and dark trousers, marched to the front of the gym to start the competition. We filled the risers as O’Leary raised his arms and directed our song; “The Vietnam Song”, heard so many times in the Purple Room of FIJI, sung by Country Joe and the Fish. Finally, we pocketed our sunglasses and marched out of the gym to thunderous applause and quizzical grins from the audience. Leo puts it well, “If not for Michael O’Leary; his vision, leadership and energy the Omega Mu Chapter of Phi Gamma Delta might have disappeared from College Ave.” We all owe Mike our thanks!
Bill Soloby and Jim McClean also contributed reflections on Michael O’Leary. They acknowledged that Mike was a great house president but said that his involvement with the House did not stop at graduation. In the 2000’s, as an alumni brother, Mike was involved with the Castle renovations. This continued O’Leary’s legacy of leadership in Phi Gam.
(Jim McLean, ’71, writing) “Mike is a truly unique man. Watching him lead and motivate is like watching Mantle hit a fastball. Mike was never a "sidelines guy.” Mike was a participator and a natural leader, first and foremost. He brought an intensity to everything he did and still does. If something big was going on, Mike would be there, and most likely setting the tone. Mike is a guy who is always there and a participator, rather than an observer.”
(Chip Chapman, ’82, writing. Mike shared this with me at Pat's during Pig Dinner weekend)
In the summer of 1969, Mike attended the most historic rock concert of all time: Woodstock. He was a member of the “Woodstock Nation.” Mike shared this with me at Pat’s during Pig Dinner weekend. He was near the front of the stage, just left of center, and he stayed the full three day, and he heard all of the great musicians and bands: Richie Haven, Ten Years After, CSNY, Joan Baez, The Who, Sly and The Family Stone, The Band, Joe Cocker, Country Joe & the Fish, Jefferson Airplane, Santana, Melanie, Grateful Dead, Mountain, and, of course, Jimi Hendrix. He loved how Hendrix played the “Star-Spangled Banner” at the end. He absolutely enjoyed Woodstock, and that he attended as many Jimi Hendrix concerts as he could. I was envious.
(Paul Dulac writing again) I lost touch with Michael after graduation in 1970. A year or so later, Becky and I caught up with him and his wife/girlfriend, at the time, in North Conway. He was managing a rock band (name escapes me) and they were cutting a record. Mike and his girl were dressed totally in leather, and Becky and I felt like we just stepped out of Mayberry, USA into NYC! We had a great lunch and a good visit, but, once again, drifted in our different directions. Around 2015, we connected again via email. I was surprised that Mike and his wife were working for the local government in Providence, RI. How did a guy dressed in leather managing a rock band end up being a Bureaucrat? We had a few laughs about that.
We last met at Pat’s, around 2017, on Pig Dinner Weekend. It was great fun catching up after so many years. We told all the stories of the 60’s. There were too many and not enough time. We decided to meet at the next Pig Dinner opportunity. Michael was unable to attend due to his illness. I was and remain very sorry about that.
Today, Michael O’Leary lives with his wonderful, caring wife, Kathy, in Florida. I was thinking, every Castle has its king, and Michael O’Leary was our king!
Phi Gamma Delta Fiji Brother
L-R: Mike O'Leary, Andrew and Mike Soloby
L-R: Bob Doyle, Frank Danforth, Mike O'Leary
University of Maine Athlete
Mike O'Leary, 89
John L. Collins
Omega Mu, 1971
By the fall of 1969, many of the seniors on the Black Bear football team had been starting for the “varsity” for two seasons already. In those days, no freshmen were allowed to play anything but freshman football. For the varsity games, we were in the stands like all the other fans.
But let’s go back to see how we got there. The year we were freshmen (1966), the Black Bears had gone to the Tangerine Bowl the previous year (record 8-2) and many of the players on that
championship team had been underclassmen and were back for another season. However, their success was far below what they had accomplished the previous season. They finished 4-5, which we all took as a great disappointment.
By the fall of 1967, those of us who had been freshmen the previous year had proven ourselves during spring ball and been invited to return to play at the varsity level. We had lots of sopho- mores on that 1967 team, and it showed. It was also the first year Walt Abbott took over as head coach from Harold Westerman – “Westy”. Westy was head football coach at Orono for 15 years and had only one season below .500, that was in his final season in 1966. He was a legend as a football coach at Maine and it would be a tough act to follow. Walt and his staff did his best and we played as well as we could, but we went without a single win that season (0-8). We finished dead last in the Yankee Conference.
By the fall of 1968, we were primed to do better and had high hopes. Our opening game was against U-Mass at Amherst the first week in September. It was a hot day, and by the second quar- ter, we were gassed. U-Mass had a big, talented squad and as safety, I covered five different wide receivers on my side.
They just kept coming on and off the field and it was clear we were not going to keep up. It was demoralizing, but we proved how tough we could be. One particularly humiliating game that season was against UNH at Durham, in which they pulled out some tricky plays like reverses to wide receivers who then threw the ball downfield to the quarterback. Very embarrassing for the defensive secondary to get burned like that. They also had a little tailback, last name of Rudolph, who was the toughest player, pound for pound, I think I ever came up against. Hitting him was like running into the corner of a building. He shredded us too, and we remembered. Still, we went on to surprise some folks, finishing 3-5 for third place in the Yankee Conference.
By the fall of 1969, many of us had two seasons of varsity experience under our belts, two more years of conditioning and weight lifting, and we had high hopes. Again, our opening game was against U-Mass, this time in Orono. They had a 230 lb. fullback and I was a massive 165 lbs. soaking wet. At one point, he broke through the middle on a draw play and I tried to catch him. I was one of the faster players on our defense and I immediately realized I wasn’t catching him! In fact, he was pulling away from me! In desperation, I dove at his heels and caught one on my chin bringing him down, and getting loads of blood on my jersey. U-Mass still beat us that year, but it wasn’t so easy.
The pivotal game in our senior season came after we had beat URI and Vermont, and lost to U- Conn. UNH had beaten U-Conn, who had beaten us. UNH came to Orono for our Homecoming. Their star quarterback from the year before had graduated, but Rudolph, the tailback was still there. Did I mention he was tough? Did I also mention he was ugly? Well he was both of those things. And we had our sights set on that little bastard!
In the second quarter, UNH had the ball in their end of the field and ran a slant off their left tack- le with Rudolph carrying the ball. I was on that side in the secondary and saw the hole open up and Rudolph churning through it. I attacked the line and gathered myself for what I expected would be an open field tackle, when suddenly two bodies converged on poor Rudolph. George Paul Dulac, right defensive tackle had shed his blocker and hit Rudolph on his right side under his arm at the same moment Mike O’Leary, right defensive end drove his helmet into Rudolph’s left shoulder. Rudolph spun like a pinwheel and crumpled to the turf. He didn’t get up. He lay on the ground moaning and not moving much as Dulac, O’Leary and I did a war dance over him. Kind of a brutal moment, but that’s how we played football. The Fiji defense was rising to the occasion. Rudolph left the game with broken ribs. One problem solved.
In the third quarter, we had traded the lead with UNH a couple of times, and the defense had just come off the field holding them for another punt. As the offense took the field, Dulac and I sat for a rest on the bench and I turned to Dewey and said, “Dewey, we’ve got ‘em! Don’t you feel it?” with my fist clenched in front of his helmet. Dewey let out a huge laugh and at that moment, a yearbook photographer snapped a photo of the two of us. It would end up in the yearbook for that, our senior year.
But the game wasn’t over yet. We led 21-14 but couldn’t keep a drive alive, so punted and UNH took over with just minutes to go. I can’t recall how far they moved the ball, but they were past midfield when we made our stand. They were more of a passing team without Rudolph so we knew what they would try. First and 10 they threw a screen pass to their left and O’Leary drilled the ball carrier for a loss. Second and 14 and they tried to fool us with a draw. Dulac sniffed it out and dropped the ball carrier for another loss. Third and 15: drop back pass with their speediest flanker on my side, the wide side of the field, he made a quick inside fake, cut to the sideline, and the ball was in the air. It was my play and it was so clear what I had to do. I had to give the guy some space because he was fast and I couldn’t let him beat me. But it was a long way from the QB to the left sideline and I drove my right leg into the turf and broke on the ball. I dove and was flying horizontally, reaching for the ball. My hand reached the ball just as it reached the re- ceiver’s fingertips and it flew to the ground in front of their bench, incomplete. Fourth and 15 and I can’t recall what they tried next, but it failed, we took over on downs, time expired, and we won. Fiji (Dulac), Fiji (O’Leary), Fiji (me) made the plays.
So, we had lost to U-Mass and U-Conn, but beaten UNH, Vermont, and URI. We took second in the conference that year, tied with either U-Conn or UNH with UMass winning. However, UMass was cited later that year with recruiting violations and I thought they had to forfeit their conference championship as a consequence, making Maine co-champion that year. The records don’t show that, however, but I still feel like we had a championship season. Walt Abbott was head coach at Maine for 9 years, and 1969 was his only winning season.
Mike O'Leary's Omega Mu Fiji
University of Maine Football
John Rhodes and Richard Rhodes
“What if the space be long and wide,
That parts us from our brother’s side
A soul-joined chain unites our band,
And memory links us hand in hand.”
(Phi Gamma Delta fraternity song)
Chip Chapman, ’82
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