In early November, Kansas Beta undergraduates and alumni hosted a wonderful event of celebration in order to present the #1 alumni award of the Fraternity, the Raymond L. Gardner Alumnus of the Year Award, to Brother Bob Taggart.
When the editor of The Scroll telephoned Mr. Taggart to speak with him about the award, he said he was on his way into the office and that he’d call back once he got settled. Yes, at 91 years old he stills goes to the offices of Taggart Appraisals, one of the leading commercial appraisal companies in the Midwest.
The nomination materials reflect a man who believes in hard work, loyalty, and fostering relationships.
“Bob Taggart is a man of honor, moral rectitude, and helps not out of praise or recognition, but so that others are afforded the same opportunities he had that led to success and satisfying work,” the Topeka Alumni Club stated.
When Taggart arrived at Washburn Municipal University as a young man, a friend invited him to go to a KU football game then join his friends at their fraternity house afterward. He remembers that it was that night that he committed to becoming a member of Phi Delta Theta. But in 1944, WWII was happening, and many enlisted in the services, interrupting their college days. Taggart enlisted in the merchant marine.
During World War II, Washburn Municipal University was one of 131 colleges and universities nationally that took part in the V-12 Navy College Training Program which offered students a path to a Navy commission. During that time, the Kansas Beta chapter house became a housing facility for the V-12 and home to many sailors.
Most of the brothers in Kansas Beta when Taggart returned to school after the war had also been in the armed forces. These two common bonds knitted their 20+ group of men together. Bob served as chapter president and then as alumni secretary for several terms after that. He graduated in the class of 1951.
Though Brother Taggart wasn’t officially installed as an alumni club or house corporation officer until 2011, he served the chapter in many ways since the day he graduated. Whether it was by helping with finances to pay the House Mom, recruitment efforts, kitchen equipment, boiler, or chapter letters to adorn the exterior of the house, he was there. In 1966, an F5 tornado struck the city of Topeka and demolished much of Washburn’s campus. Bob was on campus with sandwiches in the trunk of his car to ensure the men had something to eat and continually offered assistance in any way he could.
From 2008–2011, Brother Taggart led the fundraising efforts to raise $2.1m for a complete house remodel and addition. Bob Taggart received the coveted Kansas Beta Alumnus of the Year Award TWICE, a feat only achieved once thus far (1957 and 1999).
From the nomination letter submitted by the Topeka Alumni Club, “Bob is a man of honor, moral rectitude, and helps not out of praise or recognition, but so that others are afforded the same opportunities he had that led to success and satisfying work.” There are many awards Taggart has earned over the years, but nothing means more than his family and his Fraternity. He shows others through his selfless acts in both Fraternity and professional life how to be a Phi and successfully models how others may pass on the values of the Fraternity, “not less, not equal, but greater than, it was transmitted to him.”
Brother Taggart is a member of the Living Bond Society (estate plans), Founders Club ($10k+), True Blue Society (alumni engagement support), and the Cornerstone Club ($25k toward a housing campaign). Bob Taggart has not missed a year of giving to the Phi Delta Theta Foundation since 1971.