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By Dave Trimmer Beta Delta '72 - Montana '76

On a warm July night last summer, after our brothers, friends and wives had turned in, Tony Conver, Steve Vielleux and I sat around trying to answer a question that I don't think has an answer.

That morning, at a service for our best friend and brother, John “Wref” Balsam, we each struggled through emotional eulogies. Now, emotionally drained, Tony wondered what role Sigma Chi played in our enduring – and often envied – 43-year relationship.

About 20 Sigma Chis were at that service. To varying degrees, one and all were friends. But they weren't the very best of friends. They all didn't talk frequently, gather several times a year or attend the others' important family events. But they were brothers.

Obviously, there was more to our relationship than Sigma Chi.

A few weeks later, Steve and I were in the same chairs, our wives next to us, and we posed the same question. Together we put together a timeline of our lives after graduation to see if we could pinpoint what it was that created more than four decades of the greatest memories you could ever imagine having.

We had to loop Tony and his wife in to get the years straight and he just said, “Could it be that four guys somehow found a way to enjoy company together, that they developed a friendship that generated 43 years of bonds that created our tight group? Regardless of differences, the bond of friendship held stronger than the differences between us.”

But it takes more than the shared experiences at the Sigma Chi house. It continued with weddings, included special events, births, moves that kept us close – all things that make up life. Things brought us together, our wives enjoyed those times and each other, and then our children fit right in. Everyone made the effort and eventually the guys got together annually for multiple days of golfing and we realized we were truly brothers.

After 20 years, the annual golf ran its course, but we never quit getting together. Our kids grew up and we went to their weddings and, without kids, we got away for long weekends at the lake, most of which at Steve's family’s place at Flathead Lake. Our mutual friendship and brotherhood didn't just influence us, it influenced our parents, our siblings and our friends. The commitment to our friendship was unique and often discussed. Our special bond was noticed by everyone in each of our families. In that, we extended the ideals of Sigma Chi, a stronger union is created by a group of different talents, commitments and temperaments. That tenant couldn't have been more tested than our group. Two were conservative and two liberal. But, somehow, with our common bond of brotherhood, we found a way to see past our differences and found friendship. And, though we differed, we knew our bond was more important than political beliefs.

So when Wref died, the three of us were profoundly sad. No more golf, cribbage, bad jokes, sarcastic remarks or general tom foolery. In my eulogy I said I spent a lot of time looking back, which was good because I can hardly bear to look ahead and imagine life without those cribbage games and what they represented. I broke down when I wrote that, then again when I said the words out loud and again right now.

Not a day goes by that I don't think of Wref. That makes me think of Steve and Tony. And that takes me back to the Beta Delta house at the University of Montana. There are so many great memories. I can't say they are all great because of Sigma Chi, but I can say they wouldn't have happened without Sigma Chi.

So, what role did Sigma Chi play in our blessings? Everything and, theoretically, nothing. We had to build the bonds long after we left school, but it sure was easier because of the bond we started with at the House in Missoula, Montana beginning back in 1972. Everyone should be that fortunate. Our advice to you is to embrace your brothers and the brotherhood you share. It's pretty special.  

Core Values, Vision, and Mission

Core Values
Sigma Chi’s core values are Friendship, Justice and Learning. Our vision is to become the preeminent collegiate leadership development organization — aligned, focused and living our core values. Our mission is to develop values-based leaders committed to the betterment of character, campus and community.

The fundamental purpose of the Sigma Chi Fraternity is the cultivation, maintenance and promotion of the core values of Friendship, Justice and Learning.

In the pursuit of these high ideals, the Sigma Chi Fraternity is able to offer tremendous value in augmenting the collegiate experience and supporting the lifelong journey of each of its members. We hope to assist brothers in becoming men of character, caring husbands, compassionate fathers and community leaders.