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"What Phi Sig offers is not in textbooks. It won't be found in a professor's PowerPoint presentation. It is not offered in a course selection catalogue. What Phi Sig offers is something more than the limits of the classroom can teach.

Phi Sig gives members a place to surround themselves with others who will accept them, a place to fit in, to learn, to make mistakes, to discover who they are and who they will become. Phi Sig men are men of Character, Purpose, Faith and most importantly, Brothers.

Phi Sig men understand that with each confidence, good friends and a place to turn, an individual can do anything. Across the nation, Phi Sig men come home each night to find more than a cold, dark room. Instead, they find someone at the ping-pong table, kicking back in the TV lounge or ordering a pizza. They find the influences that will shape them into better men.

What you have just read is an excerpt that was taken from the Fall 2005 Signet.

When I heard the news of Brother Bear's untimely and sudden death it caused me to take a trip to that storage area in my home that I call the attic. Once there, I pulled out the box marked "college stuff," blew the dust off the lid and proceeded to uncover old pictures, letters, and other college memorabilia. Inside that box I found my copy of "Hills and Stars," several years of composites, and even our pledge class paddle. I carried some of this paraphernalia with me as I made the two and one-half hour drive from Pittsburgh to State College for Bear's visitation and funeral service.

I made the trip with Andy Kirschler, one of my little brothers, and we followed another real-life father and little son (Chuck and Steve Thompson). Even before arriving in State College I received calls from other brothers (Bob Bashaw and Mike Vereb) and many emails announcing the plans to pay our respects to Bear. While attending the visitation hours and the funeral service the following day I reconnected with Brothers Mark Riley, Todd Polechko and many others.

The viewing and subsequent funeral service the following day was truly a memorial to honor the life of Bear. Many good words were said and stories were told all demonstrating what a true and good person Bear was. Bear exemplified the ideals of Phi Sigma Kappa; Character, Purpose, Faith and most importantly, Brotherhood.

After visitation hours on Wednesday evening, many of our Brothers congregated at the Tavern Restaurant (Bear's favorite dinner spot) for some fellowship to honor Bear. It was easy to spot a table full of Phi Sig Brothers...all you had to do was look for the martini glass. And, if that wasn't enough, by late evening the bar ran out of martini glasses! It was quite remarkable to see the celebration in honor of Bear. My sense is that Bear would not have wanted it any other way.

For me, Bear's death, the celebration of Bear's life at the Tavern and the Signet letter reminded me of the last time I saw Bear and broke bread with him while dining at none other, than the Tavern.

Bear and I talked at length about the Fraternity, its current condition (both house structure and brotherhood) and our responsibility to that end. He shared the importance of ensuring the perpetuity of our Brotherhood. To him, the physical structure of the house was important but forging the foundation of our Brotherhood was paramount.

To this story, I add a challenge to each and every one of you who reads this story. A challenge to ask yourself "Am I a better person today because of what I experienced as a Phi Sig?" "Can I look back and connect one (just one) of my life accomplishments with Phi Sig or a Phi Sig Brother?" Would your life and all its successes and all of its accomplishments have been the same if not for the people you met and the experiences you had at Phi Sig? If you answered yourself honestly and the answer is "yes," then don't you believe that others ahead of you should be allowed to enjoy the same?

What is needed is not only measured in dollars and cents (although that is important, too) but it is measured in giving back our time and our talents. It's measured in fellowship, breaking bread and maybe sharing a martini or two (not three and we all know why) with our fellow brothers. To us, our challenge is to ensure the continuity and stability of OUR Fraternity. Or, as we pledged: to hail the ever growing throng.

I will miss Bear; Bear the keeper of traditions, Bear the one who was always there, Bear the one who kept us all connected and yes Bear who taught us things about microwave ovens, martinis and how to live life to the fullest.

To Brother Bear, may we all live as fully and richly as he did.


Jeff McGraw
Pledge Class, Spring 1985