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Harding Family Proud to Be Legacy in Best Fraternity in the Nation
Ray Harding ’83 jokes he has been brainwashing his two sons, Dalton ’14 and Austin ’17, since birth that they would be Cougars when the day came. Fortunately, his wishes came true and Dalton and Austin both became Washington Beta Cougars.
Ray’s experience at SAE left him with lifelong friends who have been a part of the Harding family’s life since college. Austin remembers, “My dad and his friends were all very close and a part of my life growing up. I can remember him telling me from a very young age that your lifelong friends are the ones you meet in college.” It was stories of Ray’s college years—the football games, road trips, having a beer with brother in the chapter house, and the pride he carries as an SAE—that began the Harding Washington Beta legacy. “It was an honor to live with and interact with so many personalities, and today I am honored that my boys get to enjoy the house and make the lifelong friendships I did,” said Ray.
After being invited over by Mark Speigelberg ’13, Dalton connected instantly and moved into the house. Joining Washington Beta has had a positive impact on Dalton in many ways. “I think it has influenced me to strive to get the best out of myself, whether it be socially or academically. I was given many opportunities to progress, and I am extremely appreciative of that.” As a zoology major on a pre-dental path, the ambitious individuals at Washington Beta inspired Dalton to strive for excellence and gave him confidence.
Dalton invited his younger brother, Austin, to the house many times, allowing him to experience SAE firsthand. “One weekend I came up and got to play basketball with Dalton and his friends in Boehler Gym. It was competitive and fun, and there was plenty of trash talking, but most importantly, I felt welcomed,” says Austin. A major part of Austin’s SAE experience has been the strong alumni. “Alumni are an intricate part of our house, especially during football season. It wouldn’t be game day without going to a few alumni tailgates or hanging out on the sunporch with them.” One day, Austin hopes to have his own alumni tailgate and give back to the house that taught him so much. “I have learned about responsibility and what it means to be a True Gentleman.” Being Washington Beta brothers with his dad and brother means a lot to Austin because they are the two people he looks up to the most. “I owe who I am as a person today to them.”
The Harding men have spent many Washington Beta moments together and are all honored to be fraternity brothers. One favorite memory is of Dalton’s pinning ceremony, where Austin gave a speech in front of the Theta house. “It was amazing. Our whole house went, and we sang the song, and his girlfriend was very surprised. It was very emotional, and great to be there for my brother and his girlfriend, two people I love.” Dalton feels, “It is very special to me that we can all share in this experience together. Growing up I heard about my father’s great times and now participating in them means a lot to me.”
Ray is a corporal at the Spokane Police Department, where he was worked for 25 years. He and his wife, Jenene McGinnis, a Theta at WSU, live in Cheney. Dalton recently became engaged to his girlfriend, Millie, and is finishing his undergraduate degree and applying to dental schools. Austin is the scholarship chairman of Washington Beta and is working on a degree in economic sciences and a minor in business.