Penn State

Penn State’s Sigma Pi honors brothers who served in WWII

Penn State ROTC Joint Service Color Guard members raise the flag during the Wilford Beisel Memorial Flagpole Dedication Saturday at Sigma Pi fraternity.
Penn State ROTC Joint Service Color Guard members raise the flag during the Wilford Beisel Memorial Flagpole Dedication Saturday at Sigma Pi fraternity. psheehan@centredaily.com

Before Wilford Beisel died, he drafted a will that would help him give back to his church and country.

He died in 2014.

But on Saturday morning, some of what he aimed to do after his passing came to fruition.

Sigma Pi Fraternity honors members who served in WWII

Penn State’s Sigma Pi Fraternity held the Wilford Beisel Memorial Flagpole Dedication in honor and memory of World War II Theta Chapter veterans.

Affixed to the base of the flagpole was a bronze plaque memorializing 93 fraternity brothers of the Theta Chapter who served in the armed forces during the war.

The ceremony was held in the front lawn area of the fraternity house, 303 Fraternity Row.

“Fraternities are often recognized when something goes wrong, but what people don’t realize is that we do a lot of philanthropy,” senior member Cameron Mondock said. “It’s great to give back especially in honor of those who served, and embrace moments like this.”

The funding for the memorial flagpole was made possible by a $25,000 donation from Beisel — a Penn State Class of 1948 graduate, fraternity member and former U.S. Marine.

It took the better part of the year to plan for this, but were able to do some research and make this happen.

Phil Simmons, Penn State Class of 1971 graduate and former fraternity member

“It took the better part of the year to plan for this, but were able to do some research and make this happen,” said Phil Simmons, Penn State Class of 1971 graduate and former fraternity member.

Lead by the Penn State ROTC Joint Service Color Guard, they hoisted a U.S. flag and completed a formal military march.

Some members of the fraternity who also served during the war were in attendance, including Penn State Class of 1949 graduate and retired U.S. Navy Ensign Frank Fryburg, 90, of Lancaster, who helped make the ceremony possible.

“I personally knew at least 70 of the names on that plaque,” he said.

There are only nine living members left, he said.

“I feel it’s a duty,” Fryburg said about participating in the ceremony and helping plan the dedication. “A brother left a request to the fraternity to build a memorial and it was our job to make sure it happened.”

93 WWII vets honored by the Theta Chapter of Sigma Pi

Using data from the national Sigma Pi Fraternity headquarters, Fryburg was able to find 93 fraternity members of the Theta chapter who served during WWII.

“There could be more so we left some space on the plaque for if that happens,” he said.

Fryburg joined the Navy in 1944 where he trained to be an electronic technician.

“By the time my training was over, so was the war,” he said.

Fryburg then attended Penn State, joined the fraternity and was in the Navy Reserves for 20 more years. He also served as the national Sigma Pi Fraternity president from 1962-64.

“When I think of what’s going on here, I just feel pride,” Fryburg said.

Britney Milazzo: 814-231-4648, @M11azzo

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