I, (Bride/Groom), take you (Groom/Bride), to be my (wife/husband), to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part.
Wedding are great events and MOST everyone loves going to weddings – unless you have to go to more than 2-3 per year! They are great celebrations usually, where two star-crossed lovers say their vows in front of a hundred or so witnesses and then proceed to the reception where there is lively dancing, dive-rolling, and, of course, gatoring. And it is super that as Sigma Chi’s, we take our “job” of wedding guest very serious and try very hard to make any wedding reception a LOT of fun for the people there and for us too! Yes, we sacrifice our bodies, some more than others (thinking Hanbury’s back-flips here), with dancing and eating and maybe even drinking a tad too much. But that is part of our Sigma Chi tradition and responsibilities. A responsibility we embrace.
However, there are other “not-so-great” times that we, as Sigma Chi brothers, need to embrace too. These are the times of “sickness” and when “death do us part” from this world. Like marriage, our bonds of Sigma Chi Brotherhood need to remain strong during adverse times. Otherwise, we are hypocrites and not true Sigma Chi’s who bleed “blue and gold.”
As we age, we get more and more “opportunities” to be brothers and to love one another through our compassion and empathy towards our brothers and their loved ones when they experience sickness or death. These are the times that the White Cross of Sigma Chi shines brightest.
The response which many of our Delta Psi brothers have shown to Gary AKA “Slug” Wood ’71 and to his wife, Joanne AKA “Sam”, in view of their fight against cancer is very heartwarming. It makes me very proud to be a Sigma Chi and to be associated with our Fraternity. This week, two of our alumni brothers, Bob “Barney” Shortle ’74 and Paul “Mr. Ed” Persico ’75, “lost” parents – Barney’s Dad, Bob, died on January 8, and Paulie’s Mom, Doris, on January 5. Death is final and difficult for people to comprehend. A parent’s death has its own special challenges because parents are usually the closest that we’ll ever get to unconditional love in this world.
In 2010, we had planned a large Delta Psi trip to Ponte Vedra Beach to attend the wedding of Brother Paul Cosgrave ’72. Unfortunately, the night before our scheduled departure, my brother died and so Jean & I canceled our trip to Florida. However, I asked the Sigs NOT to cancel their plans but to go to the wedding and have a great time. There is a time “to mourn, and a time to dance” (Ecclesiastes), and I wanted Cosgrave’s wedding to be a time to dance (and dance they did! I was told). But, the flowers that my Sigma Chi brothers sent to the funeral home on behalf of my brother, to this day, brings tears to my eyes. How loving of them to show they “cared” and to show all the other things that go along with “caring” – including love, friendship, empathy, brotherhood, etc.
Three months later, Al “Ding” Arbeiter ’72 moved on to the Chapter Eternal. I believe I put out an email to all about his death and we have 14 or so Delta Psi Sigma Chi’s attend the wake and funeral. I remember twin brother-brother Herb Abeiter’s ’72 eulogy at the funeral home when he made me an honorary Arbeiter brother. Very touching (and funny at the same time). And then there was Bob Morrison’s ’73 – ’75 eulogy which brought tears to all of us – how Ding and Herb had changed his life back in the 1970’s by dragging him out of a “Steak & Brew” at which he was a salad chef to return to RPI for school, which eventually led to him becoming a doctor. Classic. We did a Sigma Chi White Rose ceremony for Ding, which is always a very moving experience. The next day, Ding’s father-in-law, Bub Milligan, who himself would die 6 months later to the day, approached me at the reception following the funeral. He said he never realized how close the Sigma Chi’s were and how much we loved one another and cared about each other. I guess, like most “outsiders, people assume fraternity guys to be A**holes. OK, we are. But we’re caring, loving A**holes.
The point of all this is this: If someone close to you is sick or dies, please, please contact one of your brothers. If you hear that one of your brothers or their family have health problems or pass away, let us know. If you yourself go onward to the Chapter eternal, I’ll let you get away with not emailing me. But reach out and touch someone so that we can support you through your time of need, if only by phone calls, emails, etc. Those that live in nearby proximity may be able to do much more.
The White Cross shines bright at weddings – and we are beginning to experience a lot more of our children ‘taking the plunge” and becoming married adults. But the White Cross REALLY GLOWS during those times of sickness and death when we can support one another and be of some comfort to each other.
Jim “Crambell” Campbell ‘70 thought that 2015 started out bad with the passing of Bob Shortle Sr. and Doris Persico. 2014 was tough as Jeff Cooper ’74 lost his wife, Susan, and Ed Youngkin ’74, his father, Ed Sr. In 2013, Rod Crane ’74 “lost” his wife, Madilyn. I’m sure there were many more deaths. Yet, I like to think that as our Bishop said two years ago about our parish priest passing, “Father Bob has not gone away, he’s gone ahead.” So I choose to believe that all of our loved ones have also “gone ahead” and not permanently away. Sickness and death are always difficult. But Sigma Chi’s have strong arms. Don’t forget to use them.
Bob “Ruff” Hutnick ‘71