Letters from Betas

Listed below are letters and emails from fraternity brothers of your Zeus, and in at least one case, the wife of a fraternity brother who knew your Zeus very well. The numbers next to their names (if they included them) are those assigned when they become active members of the fraternity, and indicate their lineal ranking in the fraternity chapter. For instance, my number is 957 and your Zeus's is 964. The -kai- is a sign of respect and is the way Beta's end their letters to each other.

Dear Melise and Natalie,

I knew Larry in the prime of youth--first as one of the real Betas when I was only a pledge. What a guy, I thought. Big and strong was the first impression, of course. Funny and smart came next.  And then caring, though that was not a subject that Larry or any of the rest of us were very comfortable with at that age.  Most of us were not very serious about many things, but I learned from Larry and his brother Ernie, and Gordy Yates and Mike Mattson and many other Betas, that a bunch of guys could and should care about each other. Larry cared, and was one of the people that taught me to.  Fidelity and friendship.  We were taught in Beta to not say the words but instead practice them. "Just do it," as the old Nike shoe commercial used to say. That's why I care enough to write something about somebody I have not seen for 40 years or so.

Below are the words to a Beta song that I still remember after all these years. I think they should be in this tribute to Zeus. I don't remember Larry as much of a singer, but I have no doubt that he too was stirred by the words. What a fine guy.


Dan Daniels, 989

For the staunchest band of brothers

Raise your hands on high

Our fraternity beloved

Beta Theta Pi

Hail the fairest, hail all Beta

Hail in Phi kai Phi

Now the clan to us the closest

Beta Theta Pi


This scanned letter is from Joe Butler, whom your Zeus and I knew as "Fatback", a close and dear friend of us both. His number is 917.

Dear Melise and Natalie,

In the mid-1950's the Brothers Knowles from Ogden, Utah, bounced into the Beta House at the University of Utah and therein made indelible impressions on all of their fraternity brothers as well as all of their college classmates.  Both of these men combined brains with brawn and ruggedness with sensitivity, and the admiration they gained and the friendships they established at the "U" have lasted a lifetime, even though both left Utah decades ago.

These remarkable, fit, and talented individuals appeared to be twins, and like twins, they always maintained fierce loyalty to each other and to their loving parents and sister.  When the Utah Betas of the 1950's reflect on that time in life, the images of Larry and Ernie stand at the forefront.  They were born leaders--intelligent, kind, ambitious, and stimulating to be with.  Simply stated, they were good guys of the first order

Larry and I were the same age in the same class, and among many other memories, I will never forget how considerate he was when we were returning to Utah with two other fraternity brothers from Army ROTC Summer Camp in Ft. Lewis, Washington. As we anxiously drove through Oregon, the transmission in my car went out, which forced a two-day delay in our trip home.  I told my fellow passengers to go on to Salt Lake while I waited for the repair, but Larry insisted on staying so that I would have someone to ride with the rest of the trip.  The other two guys took the bus home, but as we waited for the new transmission and then drove home, Larry and I had a never-to-be forgotten discussion on life and its meaning.  Obviously Larry's kindness made a lasting impression.

I'm fortunate to share the same zip code with my grandchildren.  It's so sad that Larry hasn't had the opportunity to know fully his granddaughters and for the two of you to know him better.  I hope, however, that the tributes you receive from his friends and acquaintances from 50 years or more allow you to appreciate the measure of this man and his many qualities.

Yours in -kai-

Mike Mattsson, 968

Dear Melise and Natalie,

I'm so sorry to hear of your Zeus's illness. Its what we all fear most.  He always seemed physically invincible to me. He was a man of life and great joy. I hope you and his family will be all right.

Yours in -kai-

Bob Clark

Dear Melise and Natalie,

I first met your grandfather, Larry Knowles, in Mrs. Malan's seventh grade class at Lewis Jr. High in Ogden.  We went on to and Ogden High together and were in the same fraternity at the University of Utah. There is a notorious photo of Larry and me and several other boys doing a ballet dance at an Ogden High assembly program.Larry was always well liked and was often chosen as a student body officer.

Here are two stories that immediately come to my mind. Larry was an excellent football player in high school and was recruited to play at the University of Utah. I asked him why he played there only a short time.  He told of lining up against an opposing team and having the player opposite him spit in his face. He said if that was what college football was like; he wanted no part of it.

Once he persuaded me to go on a blind date with him. His sister may have arranged it. Our dates were two girls from a private school in Salt Lake City. We had never seen them before, and they turned out to be plain and plump  I was angry with Larry for getting me into the situation. I'm sure he was as disappointed as I was, but he was very courteous and charming to them. His friendly conversation drew them out and put us all at ease  Before I knew it, I was having a good time along with the girls. It was a lesson in courtesy and class that I never forgot.

Yours in -kai-

Stephen Tanner, 979

Dear Melise and Natalie,

A few thoughts about Larry "Looper" Knowles - Wow; Larry Looper. Is he one of a kind! I show up at the Beta house in late 1956 as a new pledge from East High thinking I was pretty cool. After all, the Betas, fearing the new pre-season rush format would work against them, had tendered me a bid. They would never have done it otherwise. Well here were all these "Hog Pen" guys from Ogden. I took a look at Looper and thought, "well here's a big dumb jock they threw a bid to as well". Boy I couldn't have been more wrong.

"Big" - that was right on.  He saw the sun coming over Mt. Olympus fully an hour before I did.  "Jock" - also right on. He could do anything athletically.  He was best of course at being a horse at the fraternity Robin Hood costume party. Not only could he run like a deer, but also you couldn't knock him down with a bulldozer.  Where I was wrong though was "dumb".  Dumb he wasn't. His intellect and his insight into life and people are astounding.  He just knows how to handle people.  He always senses what is wanted and needed and is such a good guy that he generally provides it.

For me though, the best part of old Looper has always been his magnetic personality. He is always smiling. He bailed "Fats" Brown (another fraternity brother) out of lots of fights, not by fighting, but by making friends with Fats' antagonists'. Even today, he keeps on smiling. The last time I saw him in the Alzheimer's care facility in Carmel in 2003 (in the picture with Ernie and me, above) he was - smiling.  His personality is so ingrained, that it remains intact.  The whole room brightens up when he walks in.

Of course part of that is that he takes up 1/2 the room. I have had so much fun with Looper in so many ways and on so many occasions that my life would have a huge hole in it had he not been there. I so miss that personality in my life today. I just want to thank my great friends, Roland and Mary "Worthen" Knowles for getting together and cooking up my great pal Looper. He is truly one the real highlights of my life and I wish him well in this most difficult time.

Yours in -kai-

Gordy "Grunts" Yates, 955

Dear Melise and Natalie:

I am so sorry to learn that your grandfather, Larry "Hooper" Knowles, is suffering from Alzheimer's disease, and that it has progressed to the point where he doesn't recognize you or appreciate you. Alzheimer's is a horrible malady; one that we all hope is understood soon so that we can prevent it from robbing anyone else of their memory.  Having practiced as a physician, a urologist, for many years before my wife, Carol, and I were called to be the Mission President of the Canada Vancouver Mission 18 months ago, I recognize that while we have made great strides in understanding and treating many disease processes there are a few that have yet to be conquered, Alzheimer's being one of the most pernicious.

Hooper was an amazing individual!  I haven't seen him much since our undergraduate days in the Beta House, but he stands out in my memory as a truly great man.  His nickname of "Zeus" is so apt!  A mountain of a man who was an extraordinary athlete, he was also unflappable in the face of any challenge or crisis.  He seemed always to be the eye in the center of the hurricane, a fountain of wisdom. He would thoughtfully consider any challenge which came to relationships between fraternity brothers, or problems they may have developed, and then with great calm deliver a problem-solving solution that resolved the issue perfectly.

All of us looked to him for maturity and wisdom far beyond his years, and he never failed to deliver. We cherish our fondly remembered relationship, and mourn with you that his memory-robbing illness has taken him from us

His nickname "Zeus" is perfect in every respect except the lightning bolt flinging temper, which the original Zeus reportedly had.  Hooper was unflappable, unlike the mythical Zeus, and I can't recall ever seeing him in a rage.  He was always totally calm through any storm.  He was great!

We wish you the best, and are so happy that your Grand Uncle Ernie reached us. For his and Hooper's sake, I would like to sign off with

Yours in -kai-

Tony Middleton, MD, 999




As sad as I am that Larry suffers from such a devastating disease, and I am deeply sad, when I think of Larry I smile. Above all else Larry is real and he is genuine and he is gracious. A true gentleman, a real man, Larry is accomplished and successful and always thoughtful, kind and generous, with deep regard for others. Larry is truly unique.

Always a strikingly imposing figure in any room, he has never been arrogant. He relishes making contact with people and loves being with friends. Through the years he also made certain others of us were able spend time with each other by organizing reunions and other gatherings. He has always been curious and welcoming and easy in his manor. Never presumptions, he has gone to great lengths to learn what others find important and then has thoughtfully taken those opinions into consideration when making his own decisions. Larry has often had clear and strong opinions but never dominated with them. Problem solving with him has always been an open, thoughtful and creative process and one that found resolution. In meetings, Larry would not relax or rest until there was some kind of resolution.

Larry has been successful in what he's done. He did well throughout his multifaceted career. A good businessman, he has also always been eager to help others find their own success, spending a lot of time and a lot of money helping others get started or helping them get new traction in reasonable ventures. Larry has consistently been both very professional and very personable. Through the parts of his career that I saw, success and making money were important, but not to the detriment of people around him. Relationships became more important than money and his ethics far outweighed any urges in the direction of greed. Not that he wasn't tough, he was, when he had to be. But he didn't cross the line.

And what a nice combination of fun loving and getting down-to-business. Issues were seriously, a lot of work got done and there was always time to play and all of us around him have nicknames, a trait that has been always endearing.

To say Larry is proud to be "Zeus" is a deep and abiding understatement.

He is proud to be a Husband, a Father and a Grandfather. Proud enough that aspects of his life became part of many conversations. His pride and respect were nicely available for others of us to enjoy with him.

Tough moments, brutally tough, were those when his disease started to attack his thought processes. It was especially difficult to see him lose his ability to find nouns and without them his ability to describe the persons, places and things that were so important to him. It has been tragic to feel his struggle as he courageously tried to connect. It was such a powerful part of him to connect, making the creeping loss all the more difficult. That said, Larry's spirit is and will always be pre-eminent. Life and living are much the better for all of us who have experienced the joy of time, association and friendship with a dear friend, great guy and colleague, Larry Knowles.

Mary Ellen and I often speak of Larry. Our thoughts and prayers are with him and all of you, his family.

Yours in -Kai-

Bob Archibald, 980


My Friend

I am addressing these remarks to Larry's son Stuart and his grandchildren. You might note that I called him "Looper" not Hooper; I really believe your Uncle Ernie never understood the word and changed it to Hooper. Just a little humor, since your Grandfather would appreciate a little humor, and always liked to have a good laugh.

My memories are long and many with some that will and need to be left out since they are between just the two of us.  Some of the memories have passed into history since as I grow older and somewhat wiser I can't or don't want to remember some of the college tricks we pulled together.

Zeus, as you called him was pure and simple a MAN'S MAN. He was everything that you would describe a man to be - tall, good looking, articulate, smart, funny when needed, great businessman, good husband, excellent and loyal friend, tough when required and loved life. He loved his Mother and Father and showed them great respect and was a very good brother to his siblings.

I had the honor of being in the wedding party when he married his sweetheart Marilyn. We were all jealous of him to be able to find such a beautiful and talented woman to marry. The party at the conclusion of the wedding was "the best" but I must admit that some of it I can't recall since I over indulged. They were the "perfect" couple. Not long after she made him into a ballet dancer - can you imagine.

Larry and I were fraternity brothers in Beta Theta Pi at the University of Utah and hit is off from the beginning. He was the football player and I was the worker and the opposite. We had many long talks together about life and our futures. He always had a plan and knew where he wanted to go and what he wanted to accomplish. We worked together, later after his football career ended due to back problems, which I am sure, were with him the rest of his days, at Hibbs Clothing in Salt Lake. There were three fraternity brothers taking care of the sports shop at the best store in the valley, and we could sell ice to the Eskimos.

My career was greatly influenced by Larry since he had gone to work for a very new company called Xerox and I was looking for work in Seattle, Washington. I called him to find out if he could help with any leads and he got me an interview with the Branch Manager in Seattle. I was hired and spent 30 years and ended my career with Xerox. I remember sitting with Larry, Marilyn and little Stuart in their Oakland home having breakfast since I was down there attending school with Xerox and we talked again about the future and where we were going. He had a plan and dreamed big dreams that all came true.

You each should feel honored to have a Grandfather, Father and Brother as talented and of high quality as Larry.  I personally will never forget him and his friendship and the words and fun that were exchanged between "brothers".  I am very proud to have known him and appreciate your sadness in his present condition but you each should know that he was truly a GREAT MAN who would have given each of you a big hug and a kiss if he was able. 

My only regret is not seeing him and talking with him prior to his present condition but that is my loss for not taking action.

My best to each of you and may you have deep and positive memories about Zeus.

Jim Brown, 972

Plano, Texas

Dear Melise and Natalie,

I haven't met you but I know your dad Stuart and I know your Grandpa Larry "Looper" and your grand uncle Ernie very well. They were my idols in high school and Larry was my mentor at the University of Utah. I couldn't have had a better friend.

I lived with Larry in the Beta house when he was treasurer of the fraternity. When he retired from the job he had trained me well to take over after him. He was the one who got me started in business by teaching me accounting.

He has always been a pillar of integrity and honesty and doing what was right. He also knew how to have fun. He was very funny and fun to be with. Larry and Ernie have always been more than brothers - they have been best friends. You wouldn't try to do something to one because you would have two strong giants to contend with.

Oh how I would love to return to those days for a while. I can't even imagine your grandpa any other way than a smart, brilliant and rock-solid person who was the best friend you could have. I am so honored to call him a friend.

He was very successful in whatever he did. His business success is legendary and the University of Utah has been well served by Larry's financial gifts. He will be hard to live without for you I'm sure, but I know the day will come when you will see your grandpa as he was in the prime of his life...strong and vibrant, playful and reliable...and when you see him again, you will always have him with you.

You are lucky young women to have such a wonderful grandpa and you will have him forever.

Yours in -kai-

John Gaskill, 987

To Larry's Grandchildren,

Your Grandfather and I where at the University of Utah at the same time and both joined the same fraternity-Beta Theta Pi. Hooper as we called him was a wonderful athlete, scholar, and friend to all. He was clearly a gentle giant among men. There are many wonderful experiences I could mention to you about your Grandfather; however this one I will never forget.

One year I remember playing in intramural football finals against the Sigma Chi's ("kooks" as we called them). I was playing quarterback and Hooper was playing center. The game was all tied after 4 quarters (0-0). Each team had four plays from the 50. Who made the most yards would win the game. Our rivals were first and after four downs they made Zero yards. Now it was are turn to see what we could do. When we got back into the huddle Larry said, "Jim just run over my back as I fall to the turf". Sounded good to me because we only needed to make one inch to win. Sure enough as soon as Larry snapped the ball he went right down and I ran right over him. Larry came up with a bruised back and bloody nose. We won the game, but more importantly is the lesson you can learn from your Grandfather. That was the kind of person he was - competitive and willing to lay down his life for a friend.

Larry had a wonderful sense of humor and was bright as hell. He could make anyone feel comfortable around him and was never boastful about his many successes. We all miss seeing are wonderful friend.

Sincerely yours in -kai-

Jim Ellsworth, 960

Dear Melise and Natalie,

When I heard about the illness of Hooper I felt very sad but at the same time I felt joyful that as a college student I had the opportunity to meet and know him. I was older so we didn't spend allot of time together but I was with him in many social settings and fraternity functions.

To me, the one word that best describes Larry is gentleman. He was always kind and a true gentleman in every situation. By that I mean he always had a high standard of behavior and integrity. To me he was always a man's man. That's a very big compliment. I know that my life is better because of the opportunity to know him.

I wish you a great adventure in learning more about your grandfather.

Yours in -kai-

Warren Woods, 903

The letter above is a scanned copy. Bob Pembroke's number is 894.  He was a very good friend of your Zeus.

The letter above is a scanned copy. Dee Wilson's number is 916. He was one of the "old hands" in the fraternity and was a great influence on both your Zeus and me.

To Melise and Natalie,

Your Grandfather, Larry Knowles, always had a warm greeting and a big hug for his college friends. I was one of the lucky girls to have met him in college. He and your Granduncle Ernie were thoughtful young men and treated girls with respect. May you have joy and happy thoughts of him as you read of the joy he gave to all who have known him. Love and hugs to you from a college friend of Larry Knowles,

Janice Robinson Eiler

To Melise and Natalie,

Larry was such a nice guy to me on any occasion of our being together. The guy from Ogden was a big, strong, handsome man who was very positive, with a very good sense of self. He always looking sharp, especially when he would wear light pants and a long sleeve button-down blue shirt, as he did on so many days at the Beta house. I double dated with Larry and remember the manner with which he treated his dates - with great respect. As his granddaughters, you should know that everyone liked him. He was always sharp and pleasant, and enthusiastically joined in on activities and ensured their success - my love to each of you at this time.

Yours in -kai-

Richard Eiler, 923

Dear Ernie,

Let me add my remembrances of your great brother Larry. My first recollection is of Larry at the Beta House and his handsome, charismatic appearance and personality. He had an aura about him that is unforgettable. I was a pledge at this time, which made him even more impressive.

I did not develop a close friendship with him during College but was blessed to do so during the era of his business involvement with Hy Saunders in Park City. Many were the meetings we both attended when I was CEO of a group in the process of acquiring the Jeremy Ranch complex. Larry and Hy controlled the water in the area and were helpful to me in resolving disputes that existed at the time. Most importantly, it was the beginning of a loving friendship that I hold dear and will never forget. Larry always had the ability to get to the essence of problems. Through business, as well as social occasions, my respect and admiration for him grew with each opportunity to be with him. It was also through this experience that I had the opportunity to meet Stuart, as well as renew and grow my friendship with you. I can't say enough about Larry's impact on Hy and Summit Water Distribution Company.  It would not have survived without Larry.  He was always such a stabilizing influence even under the most challenging circumstances.  Larry stayed with us numerous times when in Park City and we truly enjoyed dining and conversing with Larry, Hy, and Stuart.  This was one of the richest periods in my life although we all faced numerous hurdles in our businesses at that time.

Larry will always be in my thoughts and prayers and I am so honored to be able to convey this to you and his Family.  Ernie, please stay in touch and ask Stuart to keep me posted.  You are all a part of my life and Claudia's, and one we love to renew whenever possible.  All the best to you and Pat.

Yours in -kai-

Jerry Howells, 1007


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