Past Grand President Phillip A. Cox, Indiana ’84, told us often, “Behind every great chapter is a group of dedicated volunteers.” These men and women make a difference in our chapters and campus communities every day. And they don’t do it for the recognition. They do it because they love SigEp and believe in the Fraternity’s ability to bring out the best in young men. Among the thousands of dedicated SigEp volunteers, a select few stand out as truly exemplary.
The Exemplary Service Award recognizes SigEp volunteers who have tirelessly served the Fraternity and modeled the way for others for more than 20 years. The following alumni received their awards at the culmination of the 2017 Carlson Leadership Academies.
Paul Litcher, Indiana Tech ’88
Paul Litcher began his dedicated SigEp involvement at the Fraternity’s Indiana Tech Chapter in 1988 and currently volunteers with chapters at NYU and Stevens. With SigEp roots in both the Northeast and Midwest, Litcher has also served in various roles at Columbia, Hofstra, St. John’s and Indiana Tech. At Stevens, he’s been instrumental in building a powerhouse RLC that has won Buchanan Cup after Buchanan Cup in recent years. Regardless of his official volunteer role, his mentorship and example for undergraduates and alumni have always set him apart. Despite living many states away from his alma mater, Litcher has maintained a strong connection with the SigEps at Indiana Tech.
Litcher is the lieutenant district governor for District 3 and has operated a New York City Founders Day celebration since the early ’90s, now in conjunction with the 1901 Club of New York. He has also been an EDGE and Carlson facilitator. A former brigadier general and current treasurer of the NUTS! McAuliffe Society, Litcher was honored with the Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1997.
Receiving the Exemplary Service Award, Litcher paid homage to his SigEp mentors, including Past Grand President Frank Ruck, Michigan ’46. Litcher quoted Ruck’s advice to him, “SigEp always needs to look into the future, remember our principles and change with the times.”
Earl Rainwater, Tennessee ’60
Since 1965, Earl Rainwater, together with his late twin brother Burl Rainwater, Tennessee ’58, has served as a constant and critical source of alumni leadership for SigEp’s Tennessee Alpha Chapter. In fact, the only time in his adult life when Rainwater hasn’t been volunteering with SigEp was between 1961-1965, when he was serving in the United States Air Force as a JAG officer. Early roles in his volunteer career included chapter counselor, district governor and AVC president. He helped guide Tennessee’s house building campaign and, in 1978, worked alongside fellow alumni to establish the Tennessee Alpha Scholarship Foundation. That same year, he was honored by the national Fraternity with the inaugural Distinguished Alumnus Award. In the decades since, he’s put in countless hours as AVC treasurer, and the scholarship foundation he helped create has awarded $1 million in scholarships.
Rainwater’s wife, Virginia, has also been an active participant in his more than 50 years of service. “I couldn’t have done much of what I did without her,” he said.
In his address to brothers and friends at the 2017 Carlson, Rainwater spoke movingly about what the Fraternity has meant to him, saying, “Membership in Sigma Phi Epsilon has been one of the greatest things that I could have experienced. To me, Sigma Phi Epsilon, from the very beginning, has meant family.”
Steve Young, Kansas ’80
Steve Young has faithfully served the Fraternity as a volunteer since 1993. That year, he answered a call to service from current Grand Treasurer Chris Bittman, Colorado ’85. The first chapter Young worked with was at San Francisco State, and he also lent his time and talents to California-Sacramento and Stanford. He is currently president of the AVC at California-Berkeley, doing much to increase volunteer involvement there and helping the chapter gain a better financial footing. In addition to holding numerous AVC positions, Young served as district governor for northern California from 2002 to 2007. Midway through his term, every chapter in his district was operating the Balanced Man Program. In 2007, he was awarded SigEp’s Distinguished Alumnus Award.
Young has enjoyed a successful career in law and has regularly lent his professional expertise to the Fraternity. He was chairman of a task force that improved and clarified SigEp’s national bylaws and AVC trust agreement. Today, he is a director on the SigEp National Housing board.
Accepting the Exemplary Service Award, Young reflected on the significance of his undergraduate experience with the Ritual. He shared that the memory of the event has remained with him throughout his many years of service, recalling, “There was this deep feeling that washed over me that morning, a feeling that I’d really never had in my life before that point. It was a feeling of love, acceptance and validation. The brotherly love permeated and engulfed every brother in that chapter room.”
Gary Bunn, Central Arkansas ’88
Gary Bunn has faithfully served SigEp’s Central Arkansas Chapter since 2003, but his involvement with the chapter goes back much further. As an undergraduate, he was a founding member of the chapter, graduating just a few months after the brothers received their charter. After graduation, Bunn went on to receive his Ed.D. and returned to Central Arkansas as a member of the school’s faculty. He became involved with the AVC, helping the organization to purchase property and build the school’s first fraternity house. Countless SigEp volunteers have depended on Bunn’s leadership over the years. He is also a respected mentor for undergraduates, both at his alma mater and beyond. He was an active member of SigEp’s National Leadership Committee, guiding local and national leadership programming; and he has facilitated frequently at EDGE, the Ruck Leadership Institute and Carlson Leadership Academies. He is the current AVC treasurer for his chapter and serves as a lieutenant district governor in the state. In 2008, Bunn received the Distinguished Alumnus Award in recognition of his accomplished and devoted service.
Speaking to Carlson attendees about the value of his investment in young SigEps, Bunn said, “Never give up on people. Instead, keep your faith that the good in people will prevail … I’m happy to say that the men from Arkansas Zeta have maintained consistent chapter excellence for nearly 30 years.”
Tom Barton, Loras ’89
Tom Barton’s volunteer service began immediately after his graduation from college. He volunteered with several chapters as a chapter counselor and AVC member. Barton played a key role in starting chapters at Northern Iowa and Wisconsin-Platteville. He also helped engineer a major turnaround at Iowa, where the then 80-year-old chapter won its first two Buchanan Cups with Barton as chapter counselor. He then went on to serve as a district governor. In the 1990s, Barton worked with Frank Ruck, Michigan ’46, to advance the Balanced Man Program, introducing it to six chapters. In 2012, he rolled up his sleeves again to help bring SigEp back to the Loras campus.
Barton has worked tirelessly to advance the Fraternity’s programs through charitable giving. He has served as a member of SigEp’s National Leadership Committee and as a trustee of its Educational Foundation. Since 2013, he has proudly served as a Life Trustee of the foundation. He is a founder of the NUTS! McAuliffe Society and serves on the National Advancement Council with his wife, Barb. Barton has facilitated at EDGE, Carlson Leadership Academies and Conclave. His breadth and depth of involvement over the years have left an enduring legacy on SigEp at the local, state, regional and national levels. In 1994, he received the Distinguished Alumnus Award.
Barton spoke of how the values of SigEp have provided a framework for him to use throughout his life. “What SigEp really gave me was a set of principles that, if properly used, could virtually guarantee success: goal setting, personal standards, gentlemanly behavior, virtue, leadership and brotherly love. The most important thing SigEp taught me, though, was diligence — and it changed my life.”