Seth H. Preece ‘49 (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) pledged to Sigma Chi in the middle of WWII, and says that most of the other fraternities on campus were closed for the duration of the war. “Of the few active at the time Sigma Chi appeared to be the biggest and the best.” 

“I have many good memories of my four years on campus, not unlike those other Sigs have,” he says. “I have two unusual memories that I shall never forget. One was getting to know Robert W. LaPorte. During the summer and fall of 1943, we became best friends. We were pledge brothers and were initiated together. We were both in the Army Air Force Reserve and expected to be called to active duty about the end of the year. We made plans to return after the end of the war, share a room at the Sig House, take chemical engineering and go into business together after graduation. In the spring of 1945, I received my last letter from Bob. He signed it ‘See you back at the house.’ A short time later his B-29 exploded taking off from Tinian Island.”  

“My other unusual memory occurred when I was the chapter magister. One night as I was waiting for the pledges to assemble in the chapter room for a pledge class, my father walked in and sat in the front row. He opened his coat so I could see the pledge pin he was wearing. Several of the members knew my father who then worked for the Army Corps of Engineers and who had built and was working a lot in a soils testing laboratory on campus. Two of the brothers spotted him sitting in a classroom auditing some chemistry classes. They pinned a pledge pin on him and told him to report to me. I later initiated my father into Sigma Chi.” 

"Before I entered Maryland in the summer of 1943, I had never had more than short term acquaintances with others my age. But then I joined Sigma Chi and suddenly I had a house full of friends. It changed my life for the better and I have benefitted from Sigma Chi friendships all my long life."

His favorite memories last long after graduation. “I cannot write about Sigma Chi without mentioning Bob Martell,” he says. “He was in the pledge class and was initiated with Bob LaPorte and me. After the war, Bob Martell and I became roommates at the house. We were close friends. I was best man at his wedding. We visited each other frequently until he died several years ago.” 

Preece says that Sigma Chi made a big impact on his life. “In 1930, when I was five years old, the economy was in a great depression. My father lost his job and our home. In the following years, we moved frequently searching for work and finding employment only for short periods. In my first eight years of school I attended eight different schools. During my high school years, we lived in a place where I had very limited social contact with my classmates. 

Before I entered Maryland in the summer of 1943, I had never had more than short term acquaintances with others my age. But then I joined Sigma Chi and suddenly I had a house full of friends. It changed my life for the better and I have benefitted from Sigma Chi friendships all my long life. 

He says that giving back to the chapter is critical. “I do not want to lose contact and forget Sigma Chi,” he says. “It was too important to me.” 

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