National Director Brad Nahrstadt, Monmouth ’89, hosted Friday’s luncheon to celebrate SigEp’s third cardinal principle — brotherly love.
“Brotherly love is not limited to affection for those who wear our letters,” Nahrstadt shared. “Our founders chose brotherly love — not brotherhood — as our cardinal principle, because brotherly love extends far beyond the boundaries of our own chapters and into communities across the world that desperately need it.”
Friday’s lunch highlighted the power of that reach. To start, Nahrstadt welcomed SigEp National Chaplain Rev. Ray Ackerman, Oklahoma ’77, to lead the Necrology, which remembers those who have passed away since the last Conclave.
Following lunch, the 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.
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.
Should a brother fall, let it be a brother of Sigma Phi Epsilon who first comes to his aid. The 2023 Clayton-Doud Award was presented to Mark McConnell, Oklahoma ’86, and Brad Schick, 87, for being those brothers when Ron Bolen, ’86, fell on a Tuesday morning hike in summer 2021.
That morning, Brother Bolen set out to hike Nevada’s Boundary Peak. An experienced hiker, he easily made the ascent up the 13,000-foot mountain, wrote his name in the registry book at the top of the peak and enjoyed the view before starting his descent. The descent, which should have taken five hours, took a turn 20 minutes later when he slipped and fell about 20 feet off the trail.
Bolen was banged up — thankfully not seriously injured — and he couldn’t climb back up the sharply angled slope. He tried to continue from his current location, but a couple hours later — Ron realized he was lost. He’d need to spend the night on the mountain.
Back at home, Bolen’s adult daughters became concerned when they still had not heard from him the next day. It was established protocol that their dad would text at the start of his hike, at the peak and at the end. That last text that never came.
Worried, they contacted friends and family. Among them was a SigEp brother who called the park service to learn Bolen’s car was still there. Childhood friend, Dr. Jim Webb, and SigEp chapter brothers Mark and Brad decided to fly to Nevada and search for him.
“I can’t believe you’re here,” Bolen said when they found him five days later.
“Of course we’re here. Where else would we be?”
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.
Always a lover of the outdoors, Kansas Alpha chapter brother Mike Mathisen, Baker ’90, often took the opportunity to enjoy the serenity of being in nature and embracing the great outdoors through various activities. When two children with pronounced disabilities came into his family, he excitedly welcomed the opportunity to introduce the wonder of nature to them. For the first time, Mathisen saw the challenges that confront individuals with disabilities each time they try to enjoy nature. Narrow pathways and uneven, steep, rocky terrain create barriers to access that Mathisen had never fully understood before.
Rather than create frustration, this eye-opening moment ignited a passion within Mathisen to research opportunities to make the great outdoors accessible to not only his daughters, but others as well. This led to 10 rewarding years volunteering with Steamboat Adaptive Recreational Sports.
In 2015, Mathisen decided to commit to his next big adventure and began Follow the Footsteps Epic Adventures with the mission to give people with disabilities the confidence to explore and enjoy the National Trails System. With the help of his dedicated team of volunteer guides, Follow the Footsteps has exposed many in the disabled community to new adventures: hiking, biking, skiing, and more.
To recognize his work in breaking down barriers for individuals around him, the 2023 Honor of Philias was presented to Mike Mathisen.