Eta Mu Chapter of Sigma Chi at Eastern Illinois - Founding Father Paves the Way

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Reflections on Eta Mu’s Modest Beginnings and Its Progress

Founding Father Paves the Way

Ron Hagenow ’72 has a distinction that very few Sigs can claim—as a Founding Father of the Sigma Chi chapter at Eastern Illinois. Playing an important role in the history of the school’s Greek Life, Ron came to college wanting to be a Sigma Chi, but knew that there was no chapter when he enrolled in 1968. He, and group of others, sought to change that.

“I actually first joined Lambda Sigma Chi in 1969—I was in their first pledge class and it was formed for the express purpose of becoming a Sigma Chi Chapter,” he explains. “I was then initiated when we got our charter in December of 1971, so I’m a founding father for the chapter."

Ron recalls sharing a unique bond—one he still maintains—with many of the men that sought to create Eta Mu Chapter, holding each of them in high regard.

“We were all individuals, but we had in common the call to become Sigma Chis,” he says.

In fact, to this day, Ron keeps in touch with many of his brothers, even after more than 40 years.

Russ Guimond ’72 and I grew up together and we still keep in touch,” he says. “I recently visited John Corn ’72, as well as running into Doug Caldwell ’73 and we still email each other. I try to see everyone when they get together in St. Louis for the annual SYAO. And I still see members frequently on Facebook.”

Today, the undergraduate brothers don’t have it as difficult as Ron did in early days of the chapter. The accommodations Founding Father Paves the Way certainly have changed, for one.

“I lived in our first house at 1821 S. 9th Street,” he says. “We packed 17 guys in a 3-bedroom house!”

As tight as it was though, Ron wouldn’t trade it for the world.

“I fondly remember our dinners and our house mother, Mom Lockwood,” he says. “We had very little space, but we sure enjoyed it. It is night and day from what the current house is today. Those guys have no idea how nice their house is compared to what we had back in the day!”

Grateful for the opportunity to break ground, so-to-speak, and form the new chapter at Eastern Illinois, Ron attributes much of his success and the person he is today to that experience.

“Sigma Chi prepared me to be a better person,” he says proudly. “It helped me learn how to get along with people. It also taught me the give and take needed for a successful marriage and family life.”

But the impact goes far beyond his personal life.

“Being part of the Sigma Chi chapter helped me when I spent time in the Air Force and when I was working for the Army as a federal civil servant,” he admits. “I met a lot of different people during my career and I always tried to see everyone’s point of view. I was able to take charge when needed, but was also willing to let others take the lead when they had more experience or a better handle on the situation.”

Today, Ron is technically retired. “I would say that I am an active retiree,” he admits. “Although I retired several years ago, between grandkids and my many outside activities and organizations, I am busier than ever!”

And through it all, Ron has remained loyal to Sigma Chi since his graduation, often donating to the chapter and keeping in touch with the undergrad chapter.

“Donating is just my way of giving back,” he says. “I have been a life-loyal Sig since graduation.”

Without Ron and his fellow original brothers, the Sigma Chi chapter at Eastern Illinois may not even exist today. They deserve a big “Thank You” for paving the way for generations of Sigs (past, present, and future).

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