ORDER OF CONSTANTINE DR. DONALD BERTSCH '56
"Only a few men are honored to wear the White Cross."
BBEING A SIG IS SPECIAL
by Order of Constantine, Dr. Don Bertsch ’57
Being a Sigma Chi is something special. You don’t trade on it. It’s one of those rare things that helps shape you and change your life. It effects you forever.
You need to look at the White Cross in a special way. You need to commit to its ideals and how you want to life your life. Wearing the White Cross is special, only a few men are so honored.
Christianity and love is the key. You have a love for the fraternity and your brothers.
I hadn’t given much thought about joining a fraternity. But, when I was an RA at Michigan State’s Shaw Hall, I couldn’t help but notice that all the quality guys on my floor were Sigma Chi. They kept trying to have me join. It was because of these quality men and their persistence, that I did. Even though I was an active brother for only a couple of years, being a Sigma Chi would forever change my life.
I met my wife, Rochelle, while at Michigan State. When I gave her my Sigma Chi pin, we were standing on our the front porch. All the brothers marched up to the front steps and sang the song, The Sweetheart of Sigma Chi. It was a spectacular ceremony, an honor, for which we both have treasured. Rochelle and I have been married for 63 years
I graduated from Michigan State with three degrees:
While at Central Michigan, in 1964 a group of young men were wanting to start a local Sigma Chi chapter. As part of the process, to prove their worthiness they started out as Chi Sigma. I didn’t know many of the men at Chi Sigma, but National asked for my opinion of them.
National reached out to another Sigma Chi brother, Don Kilbourn. He too was a Gamma Psi, from the 40s, and would stay with Central Michigan University until his retirement.
I would stay in touch with the Chi Sigs for years. Because of their exceptional behavior, the Zeta Rho chapter of Sigma Chi was formed in 1967. It was then when I was asked if I would be their chapter advisor, their first. Without pause, I agreed.
I remained very active with Sigma Chi for years. I was Zeta Rho’s Chapter Advisor for 33 years, until my retirement in 2000. It was a very good chapter. We won every award that a chapter could win. I always told the brothers. “If you screw up and give the Sigma Chi a bad name, I am out of here.”
As part of Sigma Chi’s mission to develop future leaders, I was part of their summer training program. It is now called Sigma Chi Horizons Huntsman Leadership Summit. Horizons is a leadership development experience for qualified undergraduate Sigma Chis who wish to improve their understanding of leadership as it relates to personal development, group dynamics, and intentional efforts to make positive change in the world.
I was the director of the counseling center at Central Michigan. Whenever I had a break, I would stop by the Student Center. The Sigs always had a table and I would interact with them as often as possible.
Decades later, my brothers nominated me for The Order of Constantine. It must have been a pretty good letter. Who would have imagined, 40 years after becoming a Gamma Psi Sig, I would be honored with the highest honor that Sigma Chi bestows upon its members.
Donald Bertsch ’57
Order of Constantine ‘97