Nothing was sacred when it came to the Blackfriars.
The male-only organization that produced an annual show wrapped in satire was blamed for everything from footprints on the Old Main dome to a missing birdcage after the lights suddenly went out in the Old Union’s Cage restaurant.
The social organization was as Greek as it could get, building loyalty at a time when fraternal organizations were not allowed on campus, from 1934 to the late 1960s. When the Greek community took shape the group disbanded, but the lifelong friendships never did. That’s why the Blackfriar Scholarship still exists today.
On a late May afternoon three former Blackfriars, all neighbors, sat in the sunroom at the home of Art Adams ’50, M.S. ’51. Alongside him were Dale Sutter ’61 and Sam Van Scoyoc ‘66, who said the friars probably earned their reputation as pranksters.
“They were pretty creative in a lot of different ways,” Van Scoyoc said, chuckling.
“We had a real commitment to fun,” Adams added, mentioning that when they needed a door prize at the annual show, they gave away a door.
“Those friendships have lasted,” said Sutter, looking through old photos. “I still have almost daily contact with some of these people.”
A few years ago the three decided to endow a scholarship, making phone calls and sending out letters and e-mails to former friars to raise $20,000. The scholarship is awarded to a fine arts student. It didn’t take long to raise the funds, Van Scoyoc said. Once again, the friars shared a common purpose.
“We were an integral part of the campus, and we’re getting to the point where somebody’s not going to know who the friars were or even care,” he said. “We wanted to give the name the ability to be out there for awhile.”
Knowing the name will go on forever, “that’s a nice feeling,” he said. “Something that meant a lot to us while we were at ISU, that name is going to be there forever.”
Editor’s note: This article was written based on interviews conducted early in the year. Sadly, Sam Van Scoyoc ’66 and Art Adams ’50 passed away during the summer of 2010.