Conclave’s Brotherhood Luncheon celebrates and highlights SigEp’s third cardinal principle: brotherly love. At Friday’s lunch, we witnessed the power of our brotherhood and the love that we have for one another, which often inspires us to do extraordinary things. Our brotherly love for each other extends well beyond the boundaries of our own chapters — to our schools and communities that need it, now more than ever.
Hosted by National Director Brad Nahrstadt, Monmouth ’89, Friday’s event began with the Necrology, which remembers those who have passed away since the previous Conclave, led by SigEp National Chaplain Rev. Ray Ackerman, Oklahoma ’77. Following lunch, the Fellow, Clayton-Doud Award and Honor of Philias were presented in recognition of SigEp’s commitment to brotherly love — honoring heroic acts of service to brothers and our communities.
The distinction of “Fellow” is reserved for undergraduate brothers who successfully complete a 500-hour or 60-day service learning project before graduation. “A Fellow is a servant leader, a brother who has applied his skills and talents in an effort to improve a community in a very meaningful and sustainable way,” said previous Fellow recipient Scott Dudis, Ohio State ’09, before presenting the distinction at Conclave.
Caleb Gipple, Northern Iowa ’21, was awarded the 2021 Fellow Award for the outstanding impact he has made on his local community by helping children achieve success through literacy. Brother Gipple created Reader Today Leaders Tomorrow (RTLT) with the mission to “remove barriers, expand opportunities and empower students in the Cedar Valley, Iowa community.” As RTLT’s programs were implemented, it also created a wonderful opportunity for Iowa Theta to exhibit brotherly love to the local community.
When Jim Clayton, Tennessee ’57, fell upon hard times with his company, Clayton Homes, fellow SigEp Wallace C. Doud, Wisconsin ’48, came quickly to his aid and helped navigate the difficult juncture. In appreciation of Doud’s service, Clayton endowed the Clayton-Doud Award, which recognizes brothers who exemplify the Fraternity’s charge to help fellow brothers in their time of need.
In February 2021, SigEp hero, past Grand President and Order of the Golden Heart recipient John Hartman, Missouri ’61, suffered a stroke. In his time of need, two brothers and dear friends stepped in to aid him — Mike Duggan, Missouri State ’74, and Zar Toolan, Columbia ’01. Week by week, every step of the way, Duggan and Toolan worked with the doctors, therapists, social workers and care facilities to help John as he regained his capacity.
The brotherly love that Mike and Zar share for John stretches back decades and spans generations. Through the years, they’ve shared family events and holidays together, started SigEp chapters, mentored countless undergraduates in Missouri and facilitated the Ruck Leadership Institute.
At the 2021 Brotherhood Luncheon, the Clayton-Doud Award was presented to Mike and Zar in acknowledgment of their ongoing love and support of Brother Hartman during his recovery.
Honor of Philias
The luncheon concluded with the presentation of the Honor of Philias. Established in 1989 by Past Grand President and Order of the Golden Heart recipient Jack D. Wheeler, North Texas ’61, and his wife, Kate, chapters or individuals may receive the Honor of Philias as recognition of their special expression of the Fraternity’s cardinal principle of brotherly love.
In March 2020, New Jersey Zeta brother Tony Whalen, Rider ’97, contracted the coronavirus. Tony, a founding father of the chapter at Rider University, was an active and dedicated volunteer. His willingness to be of service could be seen in every aspect of his life, not just SigEp. He was also active in his local community, serving as a den leader for his son’s Cub Scout pack and in numerous other roles.
When Tony became sick, members of New Jersey Zeta AVC swiftly mobilized to assist. They scheduled volunteers to deliver meals to his family three times a day. Another significant aspect of the AVC’s effort was creating a GoFundMe account raising more than $150,000 to help cover medical bills and mounting expenses for the family.
Despite the best efforts of the medical providers and the many brothers who loved and admired him, Tony passed away on March 25, 2020 — one of the first SigEp brothers we know of to die in the pandemic.
The 2021 honorees were members of the New Jersey Zeta AVC at Rider University. In recognition of their compassion and great fortitude, the 2021 Honor of Philias was presented to the members of the New Jersey Zeta AVC at Rider University.