An order of distinguished service to Sigma Tau Gamma Fraternity, the Society of the Seventeen was established in 1980 at the 60th Anniversary Grand Chapter in Kansas City. The Society of the Seventeen commemorates the number of Founders by limiting the membership to 17 living persons. It recognizes continuous and distinguished service and leadership to Sigma Tau Gamma, and is the highest honor bestowed by the Fraternity. The first 17 inductees were selected by the Board of Directors. Future inductees will be nominated by members of the Society for approval by the Board of Directors.
Membership in the Society represents the 17th level and ultimate achievement in the lifelong Path of Principles program.
Society of the Seventeen Members
Listed by year of induction
*deceased members of the Society
Tom Janicki, Delta Xi ’74
Janicki’s service to Sigma Tau Gamma began at Carnegie Mellon University where he obtained a bachelor’s degree in mathematics. He later went on to receive his MBA from the University of Pittsburgh and his Ph.D. in information systems from Kent State University.
After graduating from Carnegie Mellon, he became the Delta Xi Alumni Association president from 1980 to 1988. In 1987, Janicki served as the Pennsylvania State Director for one year then he served as the Northeast Regional Vice President from 1988 to 1992. He assisted with the President?s Academy (now the Earl A. Webb Academy of Principled Leaders) as an assistant dean from 1991-1994 then as the dean of the Academy in 1995. In 1992, at the 35th Grand Chapter in New Orleans, Janicki was elected to the Board of Directors. He served until 2006. During that time, he was the 31st National President from 2000 – 2002. While serving on the Board of Directors, Janicki was the Fraternity Treasurer from 1994-1998. In addition, he was the Three Rivers Regional Vice President from 1996-2000.
Janicki has been a Foundation Trustee since 2006 and currently serves as the Vice President of Development. Janicki was 1988 recipient of the Winebrenner Medal for Distinguished Fraternity Service. In 1997 he was presented the Marvin Millsap Medal for Foundation service. Janicki is the Progress Energy/Gordon Hulbert Distinguished Professor of Information Systems at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.
Paul Szczesny, Gamma Chi ’81
Szczesny?s service to Sigma Tau Gamma began at Michigan Technological University where he majored in chemical engineering. In the Gamma Chi Chapter, he served as president and director of the alumni association. In 1981, Brother Szczesny was an Ellsworth C. Dent ?Man of the Year? finalist. After graduation, Brother Szczesny became the district governor for the Omicron and Beta Theta Chapters and was named the 1986 Outstanding District Director at the 32nd Grand Chapter in St. Louis, Mo. At the 1995 National Conclave, Brother Szczesny was the recipient of the ?Prof? Grubbs Distinguished Advisor Award for his contributions as the alumni advisor to the Gamma Chi Chapter. In 1996, at the James C. Kirkpatrick Grand Chapter in Washington D.C., Brother Szczesny was appointed as the Regional Vice President for the Great Lakes Region, which he served for four years. In 1998, he became a member of the Hembree Guild and in 2010 he was the recipient of the Millsap Distinguished Service Award for his service to the Foundation. Today, Brother Szczesny is a senior research engineer at S.C. Johnson in Wisconsin.
Michael D. Schermer, Gamma Psi Hon.
Michael was elevated to membership in the Society of the Seventeen on August 8, 2010 at the closing banquet of the 44th Grand Chapter in Cleveland, OH. Michael is the current President of the Sigma Tau Gamma Foundation. He began serving Sigma Tau Gamma in 1974, when, as a young student affairs staff member at Illinois State University, he became the first advisor of Gamma Psi Chapter. He was honored with the “Prof.” Grubbs Distinguished Advisor Award in 1982. Michael was appointed to the Sigma Tau Gamma Foundation Board of Trustees in 1984 and served until 1988 when he was elected to the Fraternity Board of Directors. In recognition of his leadership during the Project PITCH Campaign, Schermer received the Marvin Millsap Medal for Distinguished Foundation Service in 1985. He was elected President-elect at the Jerry DuBois Grand Chapter in 1992 and became the 28th National President at the 36th Grand Chapter in 1994. Schermer continued his service on the Board of Directors until 2000, when he was elected to the Foundation Board of Trustees. He was elected President of the Foundation in 2008 and again in 2010.
Jack V. Balderson, Pi ’57
Jack was elevated to membership in the Society of the Seventeen on August 2, 2008 at the closing banquet of the Chris Mauer Grand Chapter. Jack Balderson has served Sigma Tau Gamma at its core. That is, his primary service is with undergraduates. At Robert Morris University, where he was Dean of Students, he served as the founding chapter advisor. While still serving as their chapter advisor, Jack accepted the additional role of Regional Vice President. While serving as a Regional Vice President, Jack also served on the Foundation Board of Trustees. In 2000, at the 39th Grand Chapter he was elected to the Fraternity Board of Directors. He was reelected in 2002 and 2004. In 2006 he returned to the Foundation as an Emeriti Trustee. He continues to serve in that role. Moreover, Jack has served as chairman of the Books for Kids project. Not one to forget his roots, Jack is also serving his chapter as president of the Pi Chapter Alumni Association.
Merle Rider, Alpha ’40*
Having the distinction of being Earl Webb’s pledge father, Merle was the ?rst of three Rider brothers who joined Alpha Chapter in the 1940?s. Merle?s career took him to varied parts of the country, and whenever possible he reconnected with the Fraternity and offered his services in a leadership role. He served in various regional of?ces including Regional Director of the Southern Region, as a volunteer in the Golden Challenge campaign, a regional chairman of the Project PITCH campaign and as a benefactor in the Enduring Brotherhood Endowment Campaign. Brother Rider passed to the Chapter Eternal in 2008.
Thomas C. Wood, Alpha Phi ?66
Like Earl Webb, Tom began his national fraternity leadership service while still in college. He served as a contributing editor of The SAGA of Sigma Tau Gamma. Through the years Brother Wood continued to contribute articles for the SAGA while serving in volunteer leadership posts. He served six years on the Fraternity Board of Directors. That service was sandwiched between decades long service as a Trustee of the Sigma Tau Gamma Foundation. He has served in many Foundation of?ces, including president. Brother Wood has also maintained strong ties to his beloved Alpha Phi Chapter, at Southeast Missouri State University. Tom’s son, Tom Wood Jr., Beta Alpha ’92 and son-in-law Joe Kraichely, Beta, are both Sig Taus.
Frank J. Petrella, Omicron ?70*
Frank reconnected with Sigma Tau Gamma in 1991 when his car broke down while on a family vacation and alumni brothers of Beta Omega Chapter (Edinboro University of Pennsylvania) came to his rescue. He founded the Atlanta Alumni Chapter then joined the Foundation Board of Trustees. In 1992 he was elected to the Fraternity Board of Directors. An attorney, Brother Petrella was a frequent speaker on risk management at chapter, regional and national meetings. He also authored numerous articles and manuals and served as a legal resource for the Fraternity and many of its collegiate members. Brother Petrella passed to the Chapter Eternal in 2000.
Joe Feldhouse, Beta Upsilon ’69
Joe served on the Fraternity’s Board of Directors from 1996-2002. His first term on the Foundation Board of Trustees ran from 1988-1996, and resumed upon retiring from the Board of Directors in 2002. He is currently the Foundation Vice President of Development. Joe was a District Governor from 1971-1985, and served the Beta Upsilon Alumni Association as President, Vice President, and Secretary/Treasurer.
Robert E. Bernier, Iota ’71
Bob was a founding member of Iota Chapter and served as chapter president. After graduation, he joined the Fraternity staff as Assistant Executive Director and served in this role for two years. In 1973, Bob became the volunteer editor of the SAGA for 11 years. During this time, he became the first member of Sigma Tau Gamma to lead an interfraternal organization when he was elected President of the College Fraternity Editors Association in 1980. Brother Bernier was the 1976 recipient of the Winebrenner Medal for Distinguished Fraternity Service, and has served on the Foundation Board of Trustees since 1985.
George Gunn, Alpha ’43
George was President of the Sigma Tau Gamma Foundation from 1988-1990. He has served as Foundation Trustee since 1987. A retired Air Force test pilot, Brother Gunn was among the “Right Stuff” fliers of the early supersonic era. Using skills from his second career in real estate, Brother Gunn helped to grow the assets of the Foundation by nearly one-third.
Paul Pfeiffer, Pi ’35*
Paul served on the Board of Directors from 1968-1980, and was national president from 1974-1976. As president, Brother Pfeiffer re-launched the campaign to build a permanent headquarters facility on the Founding site in Warrensburg. The campaign resulted in the construction of the Millsap building in 1977-1978. Prior to his election to the Board, Brother Pfeiffer was the Fraternity’s National Educational Adviser and a faculty adviser for Iota Capter. Brother Pfeiffer passed to Chapter Eternal in 1997.
William J. Hardebeck, Alpha Beta ’69
Bill was first elected to the Sigma Tau Gamma Foundation Board of Trustees in 1988 and currently serves as its President. He also served as President of the St. Louis Alumni Chapter and as Dean of the Chapter Leadership Institute from 1988-1990. He was the 1993 recipient of the MIllsap Medal for distinguished service to the Sigma Tau Gamma Foundation. He served two years on Fraternity chapter service staff after retiring as the principal of a St. Louis elementary school. He is an alumni adviser for Epsilon Xi Chapter.
Irwin Graves, Kappa ’42*
Colonel Graves was the longtime adviser to Alpha Chapter and the 1987 recipient of the “Prof.” Grubbs Distinguished Adviser Award and the 1994 recipient of the Millsap Medal for distinguished service to the Sigma Tau Gamma Foundation. He was a Trustee of the Sigma Tau Gamma Foundation and with his wife, Ferne, supported many of its programs. Brother Graves passed to Chapter Eternal in 2004.
William P. Bernier, Iota ’71
Bill served as the chief executive officer of Sigma Tau Gamma Fraternity, Inc. and the Sigma Tau Gamma Foundation, Inc. from 1973 to 2014. He is a past president of the Fraternity Executives Association and the senior active executive leading any college fraternity or sorority. During his tenure Sigma Tau Gamma constructed its permanent headquarters campus on the Fraternity Founding Site, including the Marvin Millsap Headquarters Building, White Rose Pavilion and White Rose Courtyard. He established and maintained a stable financial structure to support staff services to the Fraternity’s 49,000 members. Under his stewardship, the Foundation has grown to nearly $3 million in assets. A community leader Brother Bernier has served as the President of the University of Central Missouri Board of Regents and Chairman of the Warrensburg Chamber of Commerce.
Kenley R. Hoover, Pi ’57
Kenley served as the Fraternity’s 22nd National President from 1982-84, and was a member of the Board of Directors from 1976-88. In 1984 he received the Millsap Medal in recognition of his distinguished service to the Foundation during the Project PITCH Campaign. He was elected to the Foundation Board of Trustees in 1988 and served as its President from 1990-1999. As Foundation President he launched the Books for Kids Program in 1994. In 1985, Brother Hoover received the Outstanding Alumnus Award from the Indiana University of PA. Kenley served on the BACCHUS Board of Directors from 1982-2007 and on the National Interfraternity Conference Board of Directors from 1998-2001.
W.P. “Buz” Barlow, Beta Mu ’67
Buz served the Fraternity as its 20th National President from 1978-80 and as a member of the Board of Directors from 1972-1984. In 1984 he was elected to the Foundation Board of Trustees and served served as its President from 1984-1988. In 1984, the Grand Chapter meeting in Milwaukee was named in his honor. He is also a recipient of the Millsap Medal for Distinguished Service to the Foundation in recognition of his leadership during the Project PITCH Campaign. He was the 1967 recipient of the Ellsworth C. Dent Man of the Year Award. He served on the National Interfraternity Conference Board of Directors from 1984-1988.
K. Dale Atterberry, Beta ’33*
Dale was elected the first president of the Wilson C. Morris Fellowship in 1982 at the 30th Grand Chapter in New Orleans. In 1988, the 33rd Grand Chapter in Pittsburgh was named in his honor. Brother Atterberry was a recipient of the Millsap Medal for Distinguished Service to the Foundation in recognition of his leadership in the Project PITCH Campaign. He was also a leading donor to Beta Chapter, helping to build the chapter house. Brother Atterberry passed to the Chapter Eternal 1998.
Michael J. Steinbeck, Sigma ’65*
Brother Steinbeck served Sigma Tau Gamma Fraternity as its 19th National President from 1976-78. Brother Steinbeck served as a District Governor and Regional Director before being a member of the Board of Directors from 1970-82. A fellowship that benefits outstanding initiates who attend either graduate or professional school is named in his honor. Brother Steinbeck passed to Chapter Eternal in 1986.
Payton Phelps, Mu ’61
Pat served as Sigma Tau Gamma’s 17th National President from 1972-74. A member of the Board of Directors from 1966-80, Brother Phelps served as President of the Wilson C. Morris Fellowship from 1990-92. Brother Phelps continues to serve the Foundation as an Emeriti Trustee. He is an attorney in Durant, Okla.
James C. Kirkpatrick, Alpha ’29*
Jim was the fifth recipient of Sigma Tau Gamma’s Distinguished Achievement Award in 1974. In 1977 Kirkpatrick chaired the Missouri Campaign for the National Headquarters Building. More than three-quarters of the donations that made construction of the building possible came from this campaign. Kirkpatrick served an unprecedented 20 years as Missouri Secretary of State, and was president of the National Association of Secretaries of State in 1974. The 37th Grand Chapter in St. Louis was named in his honor. Brother Kirkpatrick passed to Chapter Eternal in 1997.
Marvin Millsap, Alpha ’27*
Brother Millsap is regarded as the founder of the Wilson C. Morris Fellowship because he was the first person to accept the invitation to become a Fellow by making a $1,000 gift to the Sigma Tau Gamma Foundation. Millsap became the 17th recipient of Sigma Tau Gamma’s Distinguished Achievement Award in 1986 in recognition of his career achievements as an entrepreneur and as a prominent benefactor to higher education. Marvin inspired and became the primary leader of the Project PITCH Campaign, which was the first $1 million campaign of the Sigma Tau Gamma Foundation. The Fraternity’s national headquarters building is named in his honor, as is the Millsap Medal for Distinguished Service to the Foundation. Brother Millsap passed to Chapter Eternal in 1994.
Allen R. Nieman, Alpha ’21*
Founder Nieman was the principal organizer of the initial meeting held to establish the Fraternity. He was also chairman of the Extension Committee and installed Beta Chapter at Northeast Missouri State Teachers College in 1921. Brother Nieman had a distinguished career as a school administrator. Brother Neiman passed to Chapter Eternal in 1937.
Leland T. Hoback, Alpha ’21*
Founder Hoback was chairman of the committee that wrote the Fraternity’s first Constitution and Laws. He also served as the first president of Alpha Chapter and as the Fraternity’s National Vice President from 1921-24. He helped install Beta Chapter and Delta Chapter at Kansas State Teachers College in Emporia. Hoback was a school superintendent and businessman in Windsor, Mo. Brother Hoback passed to Chapter Eternal in 1966.
Edward H. McCune, Alpha ’21*
Founder McCune served as the fourth National President of the Fraternity from 1938-43. Brother McCune wrote the Sigma Tau Gamma Creed, and assisted the Fraternity’s expansion efforts in Oklahoma. He worked as a psychologist for the Veterans Administration and was the author of two books. The Edward H. McCune Distinguished Chapter Award is named in his honor. Brother McCune passed to Chapter Eternal in 1984.
Emmett Ellis, Alpha ’20*
Founder Ellis was the first elected National President of Sigma Tau Gamma Fraternity, serving from 1925-27. One of the 17 Founders, he remained active as an adviser to Alpha Chapter and to all Fraternity leaders throughout his life. A professor of mathematics at the University of Central Missouri. Beloved by both students and faculty, the largest residence hall on the campus is named in his honor. The Emmett Ellis Chapter Scholarship Award is named in his honor.
Ellsworth C. Dent, Delta ’22*
Brother Dent was the longest serving president of the Fraternity from 1927 to 1936. Prior to serving as president he was on the Fraternity Board of Directors in the then elected office of editor. In professional life, Brother Dent was a pioneer in educational and industrial films production. He co-founded Coronet Films, which was later merged into Esquire, Inc. He produced the first Sigma Tau Gamma film. He retired in 1972 as a Senior Vice-President. The Ellsworth C. Dent Man of the Year Award is named in his honor. Brother Dent passed to Chapter Eternal in 1983.
Thomas M. Hutsell, Beta ’27*
Brother Hutsell was a delegate to the first three Conclaves. He established the first Central Office and served as Executive Secretary from 1927-38. He organized the first expansion program and guided the Fraternity through the Depression era. He became a leader in distributive education, and later an executive for Western Auto. The Thomas M. Hustell Chapter Efficiency Award is named in his honor. Brother Hutsell passed to Chapter Eternal in 1978.
Ralph Bedell, Alpha ’26*
Ralph was instrumental in leading Sigma Tau Gamma Fraternity through the Depression era. He was a delegate to the First Conclave in 1925, and served as Grand Historian from 1927-35. He served on the Foundation Board of Trustees and became a leader in the Project PITCH Campaign. Brother Bedell passed to Chapter Eternal in 1991.
D. Kenneth Winebrenner, Pi ’33*
Winebrenner served as Third National President from 1936-38. As Executive Secretary from 1938-53, he guided the Fraternity through World War II and expanded many of its programs. He was a professor of art at Buffalo State College. He was the author of two books on jewelry design, the host of an early television show and editor of School Arts Magazine. The D. Kenneth Winebrenner Medal for Distinguished Fraternity Service is named in his honor. Brother Winebrenner passed to Chapter Eternal in
Earl A. Webb, Alpha ’41*
Earl Webb was the Eighth National President of Sigma Tau Gamma Fraternity from 1950-54. He served on the Board of Directors for 20 years, and was President of the Sigma Tau Gamma Foundation from 1972-76. An unselfish and dedicated Fraternity leader, he was recognized by the National Interfraternity Council with its Silver Medal in 1976. HIs more than 60 years of service and leadership is unexcelled. Earl is known as Mr. Sig Tau and the Earl A. Webb Most Improved Chapter Award is named in his honor. Brother Webb passed to the Chapter Eternal in 2010.
E. Kennedy Whitesitt, Epsilon ’32*
Whitesitt was a delegate to the First National Conclave in Warrensburg in 1925. He served as Grand Treasurer in 1927 and as Grand Historian from 1946-48. Brother Whitesitt served as Sigma Tau Gamma’s first full time Executive Secretary from 1953-66, directing the Fraternity during its greatest period of growth. The E. Kennedy Whitesitt Newsletter Award is named in his honor. Brother Whitesitt passed to Chapter Eternal in 1984.
Robert N. Jones, Beta ’30*
Brother Jones served as Sigma Tau Gamma’s Ninth National President from 1954-56. Jones served as the Fraternity’s legal counsel for many years, and was the incorporator and initial Trustee of the Sigma Tau Gamma Foundation. The Robert Nagel Jones Charitable Projects Award is named in his honor. Brother Jones passed to Chapter Eternal in 1971.
W. Warren Barberg, Alpha Kappa
Warren Barberg served as Sigma Tau Gamma’s 10th National President from 1956-60, becoming the youngest Brother to hold the office. A leader in the field of insurance and real estate development, he also helped organize and was the first president of the Sigma Tau Gamma Foundation.
Ollin J. Drennan, Beta ’46*
Drennan served as 11th National President of the Fraternity from 1960-62. A member of the Board of Directors from 1956-68, Brother Drennan is an Emeritus Trustee of the Sigma Tau Gamma Foundation. He served for many years as Dean of the Foundation’s Leadership Institute. He also served a a faculty adviser to Beta Chapter. Brother Drennan passed to Chapter Eternal in 2008.
W.T. Hembree, Epsilon ’42
Bill Hembree served as Sigma Tau Gamma Fraternity’s 12th National President from 1962-64, and on the Board of Directors from 1956-1970. He was General Chairman of the Golden Challenge Campaign which raised funds for the Marvin Millsap Headquarters Building. A Trustee of the Foundation since 1970 and its President from 1982-1984, Brother Hembree has a record of service and leadership to Sigma Tau Gamma of more than 50 years. The W. T. Hembree Chapter Leadership Award is named in his honor.
William A. Cornell, Pi ’44*
Bill Cornell served as the 14th National President of Sigma Tau Gamma Fraternity from 1966-68 and on the Board of Directors from 1960-1972. Cornell was the key leader in establishing many of the Fraternity’s chapters in Pennsylvania, where he was an educator and author. Brother Cornell passed to Chapter Eternal in 2004.
Ronald W. Roskens, Alpha Eta ’53
served as the Fraternity’s 15th National President from 1968-70 and on the Board of Directors from 1962-1974. An Emeritus Trustee of the Sigma Tau Gamma Foundation, Brother Roskens served as Chairman of the Golden Anniversary Grand Chapter in 1970 and Dean of the first Sigma Tau Gamma Leadership Institute. A leader in higher education, having served as President of the University of Nebraska system, Roskens was the 11th recipient of Sigma Tau Gamma’s Distinguished Achievement Award in 1980.
Basil D. Hunt, Beta ’58*
served the Fraternity as its 16th National President from 1970-72 and on the Board of Directors from 1964-76 and in 1988, Brother Hunt served as the Third President of the Sigma Tau Gamma Foundation from 1976-80. He also served as a director of the National Interfraternity Conference. Brother Hunt passed into the Chapter Eternal in 2012.