The Rev. S. George “Doc” Dirghalli: A Life of Brotherhood


The Rev. S. George “Doc” Dirghalli: A Life of Brotherhood

By Mike Raymond | Fraternity Historian 

What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal. –Albert Pike

There are many great men associated with Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity. Men like Cole, Mason, Fischer, McIntosh, Krenmyre, Fladd, and many more. Each of these men had their own characteristics that separated them from the others. Like any of us, these men had both strengths and weaknesses. Some were scholarly, some reserved, most were very formal in their behavior, and some had great senses of humor, while others were moody and even vindictive. These leaders were human with flaws that did not diminish their contributions to our Fraternity. What would Lambda Chi Alpha be without them? Would our Fraternity even exist today?


Recently, an iconic leader of our Fraternity died. That is not easy to say because some thought that he would live forever. Of course, no one lives forever; that is simply not the way we were created. That is a fact of life that all of us must contend with as we march toward our inevitable end.

Like the great men already mentioned, some men leave this world a legacy that endures. One such man was the Reverend S. George “Doc” Dirghalli (U of Florida) who passed away on Saturday, October 29, 2016.

When you look at Doc’s record as a Lambda Chi you see certain words over and over again. It constitutes a lexicon of Brotherhood. Words like: idealism, spirituality, celebration, cooperation, loyalty, truth, justice, honor, morality, patience, and brotherhood are abundant in the language associated with Doc over his decades of service to our Brotherhood. Many of the same words were written about Doc by members of the communities he served as an Episcopalian priest.

Doc was more than words. He was a man of faith who demonstrated his beliefs throughout his years as a Lambda Chi. Doc put the words associated with him into action through the use of a combination of intellect and sensitivity to the feelings of others. He probably influenced the culture of our Fraternity as much as Jack Mason influenced our Ritual.

Doc demonstrated his love of the teachings of our Ritual through his many years narrating its exemplification at General Assemblies. While Mason envisioned Lambda Chi Alpha as a religious order, Doc did not. However, he believed that Lambda Chi Alpha, while not a religious order, could fulfill the religious or spiritual needs of its members. His annual Celebration of Life is an example of his attempt to fulfill these spiritual needs.

Let’s look at some of the words that people wrote about Doc shortly after he died.

Current Grand High Alpha Mark McElreath had this to say about Doc’s legacy:

Over my thirty years in and working with the Fraternity, I’ve had so many opportunities to visit with Doc. To me he was the spiritual leader of the Fraternity, and showed that in the continued work he did with the Ritual and Master Stewards, as well as with Brothers at chapters like Syracuse and Florida. It is the end of an era, for while we now have many men playing such roles, I’m not sure we will ever have another that stood head and shoulders above us like Doc. He was a beacon for the Lambda Chi Alpha we all aspire to.

Bill Farkas, CEO of Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity, shared this message about Doc’s influence on our Fraternity:

To me and I know many others Doc was Lambda Chi Alpha’s spiritual and moral compass. He provided that pathway to thinking about (and challenging us) to truly live our Ritual. He did this with small groups and large, he did this at the international, chapter, and individual level. Doc would challenge all to think about how you were going to live your life and how you were going to make other lives better. In some ways George Spasyk was the head of Lambda Chi Alpha for over forty years and Doc was the heart and together they made and moved us to unparalleled heights.

Past Grand High Zeta member Phil Parker wrote this about Doc:

My relationship with Doc goes back to the summer of 1972 at the Portland Assembly when I was fortunate to be a member of our Ritual Exemplification Team. Doc was the voice behind the explanation of our sacred learning experience. Actually, he was the modern-day author of that scripted part we all enjoy. One could quickly tell that Doc’s spiritual background led us all to a much deeper understanding of our degrees. This led me, as well as many others; to an even stronger relationship with other Brothers who shared this common experience.

Greg Castanias, a member of the Educational Foundation’s Board of Directors, shared his feelings about Doc:

I had known and understood what “Doc” meant for a long time – going back to my years as an undergraduate at Wabash College. He was the walking epitome of the leader-servant of Lambda Chi Alpha. From traveling secretary, to George Spasyk’s deputy, to Grand high Alpha, to his service in support of the Educational foundation, he was as close as anyone has ever come to living and modeling the pure ideal of what it means to be a Lambda Chi.

30625744641_7f1a14c390_oFormer Grand High Alpha Murphy Osborne, another of Lambda Chi’s iconic leaders, wrote this about his close friend Doc:

For as long as I can remember, Doc Dirghalli was the Spiritual leader of our Fraternity and certainly held that position for the Brothers of my generation. His intense caring and wisdom was predicated on our Ritual and on his God. He served as a faithful exemplar to us all. Some Brothers have given so much that it will be difficult to imagine a replacement. Doc was such a Brother.




Another of Lambda Chi Alpha’s past Board members, Jeff Steele, MD, remembers Doc in this way:

Doc was my mentor, my guide, my spiritual advisor, my inspiration, and my friend. Few people have had such a profound influence on my life. In 1981 he called me from Syracuse and asked if I would be interested in serving as a volunteer with the international organization of Lambda Chi Alpha. This became one of the major crossroads of my life and led to many years of life-changing involvement in the Fraternity. Serving with Doc in this capacity was enormously gratifying and I count it as one of the greatest blessings of my life. I will miss Doc, profoundly.


4853721724_b0412c7a59_oLynn Chipperfield, current Legal Counsel for Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity, had the unenviable job of taking over the narration of the Ritual Exemplification at General Assemblies. Here is what he has to say about following in Doc’s footsteps:

For many years prior to 2008, Doc performed the Narration at Ritual Exemplifications at General fraternity events. That year he came to me and asked me if I would take over that duty. Why he picked me out of the crowd I have no idea, but I’ve read the Narration at each General Fraternity event since. Every year I’m mindful of Doc’s example; honored by his having allowed me to do this, and acutely aware that I’m a pale imitation of the original.

Doc Dirghalli was also a priest who dedicated his life to uplifting the spirituality and happiness of his congregation. He was much loved by the members of the churches he served so well for so many years. Here are just a few comments made by some of his congregants:

Father George was a wonderful man who was funny. Funny, sweet, and loving. I remember his excellent sermons and even better hugs. He was someone you could always ask questions and get answers that went right to your heart.

So many memories of those magical meals, Middle Eastern recipes, family, and that amazing grace. We have been blessed to have Father George and his family in our lives.

I knew Rev. Dirghalli back in the 80’s while working at Syracuse Savings Bank in Eastwood. I worked at the desk and helped him with banking matters. He was always a delight to talk with and would always make us laugh with his great impersonation of Peter Sellers as “Inspector Clouseau” from the Pink Panther movies.

A Godly man who influenced each member of my family through the years.

I am so saddened that my favorite priest has passed away. He was a wonderful person and great mentor.

My sincere condolences on the news of Father D’s passing. I have fond memories of him and you folks – you took this college kid in and made him part of your family with grace and generosity. I learned a lot living with y’all and father D was always there with an encouraging word or two…or more… His cooking was epic and I will forever remember the repartee before one of our wonderful meals when he would say “Bon Appetite” and our responses would be “Merci”…great memories and terrific food!

Grand High Phi David Huffine shares the following memories of Doc:

In the 1980s, Doc would be mobbed by undergraduates at summer assemblies, who just wanted to hear a word of inspiration, passion, and encouragement spoken by him and they were never disappointed. Doc didn’t just believe in the truth of Lifetime Brotherhood, he dispensed it. His Celebrations of Brotherhood were the mountaintops on top of the mountaintop experience of gathering with hundreds of Brothers at assemblies. Doc was able to reach in and coax out the passionate and pure heart of perfect brotherly love.

Exhortation. It is a gift of the spirit that at once means to encourage, incite, urge, challenge, inspire, motivate, advocate, and counsel. It is the perfect expression of the brotherly spirit of Doc Dirghalli. It’s an uncommon word we do not have in our everyday vocabularies. Doc had an innate ability for exhorting countless generations of Brothers, myself included, to our highest and ever increasing attainments in serving, giving, achieving, and loving one another. Both the Brotherhood and the organization of Lambda Chi Alpha have been blessed to benefit unceasingly from Doc’s gift of exhortation!

Doc is gone but not his legacy of love, passion, and belief in the truth that lies behind the monogram of Lambda Chi Alpha. He touched many lives for the better and our organization also benefited from his touch. Doc was the embodiment of a Brotherhood that spans two nations and the world. His impact on his Brothers is as immeasurable as it is profound. Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity needs more men like Doc Dirghalli. Great men are few and Lambda Chi Alpha has been fortunate to have so many leaders like Doc.

Rest in Peace, My Brother.

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything is worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. –Philippians 4:8-9


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