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Band of Brothers

by Dec. 1, 2015, 10:32 PM

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Jerry Stephens, Grayson Wiles and LeRoy Cole. (Steve Green/Vanderbilt)

Former fraternity members join forces to endow scholarship

In 1961, fraternities were nearly unheard of at Peabody—there was only one, in fact. So, several Peabody students decided to create one. LeRoy Cole, BS’65, now a retired elementary school teacher, was one of the charter members of a new fraternity that would be called Sigma Epsilon.

“Some of us got together, led by Van Latture (BA’63, MA’64),” Cole remembers. “The college told us we could form a fraternity if we wrote a charter. Part of our charter was to perform public service. So, each quarter we came up with a project—held a clothing drive, built a scoreboard for the athletic field, had a Christmas party for disadvantaged children.”

Though the fraternity lasted for little more than a decade, their public service efforts have taken on new life in the newly endowed Sigma Epsilon scholarship.

Jerry Stephens, BS’65, spearheaded the campaign to raise the $100,000 needed for endowment. “I felt we needed to do something to leave our stamp,” Stephens said.

With help from Peabody’s development office, Stephens, former president of Peabody’s Alumni Association Board and Roundtable member, identified a target group of around 50 Sig Ep brothers.

“We actively solicited for about a year and pretty much got the pledges within that time. This year we surpassed our goal, and we want to keep contributing to build it up. We want to keep our legacy alive,” Stephens said.
The Peabody Sig Eps gathered at Reunion last October, during which the class of ’65 celebrated their 50th reunion (the fraternity celebrated its 53rd year). Nine class of ’65 Sig Eps attended, including Cole, who lives in Hyde Park, New York, and Stephens, who lives in Hendersonville, Tenn. Joining in the celebration was a special guest: the very first Sigma Epsilon scholarship recipient, Grayson Wiles, sophomore human and organizational development major.

“I was dubious when Jerry had the idea,” Cole said. “Our numbers are dwindling and some of us are teachers or retired teachers, but Jerry did it. I’m proud of him and proud of being a Sig Ep.”

Learn more at vu.edu/oppvu

—Bonnie Arant Ertelt, BS’81

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