Chapter Eternal – Donald Motaka, Beta Pi ‘71

It is with great sorrow to report the death of one of Beta Pi’s most beloved brothers. Donald Motaka, Beta Pi ’71, passed away on December 21, 2020, from a rare autoimmune disease. 

After leaving Penn, my brother Motaka graduated from Yale Divinity School. This led to his first parish in Rebersburg, Pa., then to his second parish in Aaronsburg, Pa., and then to the Tabernacle Lutheran Church in West Philadelphia. After West Philadelphia, he stepped away from the ministry to pursue other interests. He served as a congressional aide to U.S. Rep. Marty Meehan (D-Ma), and executive secretary of the Rotary Club of Philadelphia, until he returned to his hometown, Gettysburg, Pa., where he was an active member of the St. James Lutheran Church, where he had been taken in and cared for by church members during his teenage years.  

In 2013, he began a residency at the Congregation of the Servants of Christ at St. Augustine’s House Lutheran Monastery, the only Lutheran monastery in North America. At the monastery, he became a simple professed monk, taking the name Father Jude, in honor of St. Jude, the patron saint of desperate cases and lost causes.  

Brother Motaka’s obituary can be accessed by this link. 

Brother Motaka’s death was noted, by the Hon. Lori Trahan of Massachusetts, in the House of Representatives, on the Congressional Record. It can be accessed by this link. 

At Penn, brother Motaka was a friend and inspiration to all. Well remembered for his hearty laugh, he always left his Pi Kappa Alpha brethren with a smile. Affectionately nicknamed “Dick Dummy”, Donald and his life-long friend, Joseph Moore III, Beta Pi ’71, were inseparable. Brother Moore advised the Beta Pi Alumni Association of his death. In response to this announcement, many Beta Pi brothers, including Steve Pyun ’72, Marty Conroy ’72, Paul Zaentz ‘69, Richard Schorr ’72, Lou Tarnoff ’72, Harvey Mackler ’72, Ted Fatsis ’71, Bruce Wolfson ’71, Ed Shamy ’74, and Joel Friedland ’74, expressed their sadness at his passing. Commenting on their dear departed brother, they said his death was “devastating”, “stunning”, and “very sad news indeed”. Don was “goodness inside and out”. “His laugh was infectious”, and his “unique laugh always brightened my day”. “Wherever Dick was, there was laughter” and there are “happy memories of the days spent with Don at the house. He was always smiling and caring. He will be missed”. “Always in our hearts”. “Gone from our sight but never from our hearts”. “Donald was in the midst of many of the best times”.  

Brother Motaka’s pledge brother fifty years ago, Bruce Wolfson ’71, may have said it best: 

“The incandescent smile and infectious laugh, The outrageous and profane sense of humor, The courage and tenacity to overcome countless challenges that would have defeated most of us, The relentless, impatient, passionate, and occasionally angry pursuit of social justice, The refusal to take himself too seriously, Above all, a profound love of life and mankind. 

Dick taught me a lot and will be with me always. Rest in Peace, my friend.”

Chapter Eternal - Donald Motaka, Beta Pi ‘71
                  Joe Moore III and Don Motaka