To Eta Rho Alumni, Fraternity Means Family

Pictured: Seated (L to R) – Scott Travis (HP 408) (Todd’s Brother), Mrs. Sue Travis (Todd’s Mother), Lynn Travis (Todd’s Sister), Mr. Fred Travis (Todd’s Father), Joey Bowling (HP 325). Standing (L to R) – Jerry Bodenbender (HP 326), Kelly Foster (HP 328), Shane Van Meter (HP 321), Nick Berryman (HP 349), Hunter Watkins (HP 333), Buddy Jones (HP 330), and Tommy Wilks (HP 343). Not Pictured – Sally Hinkle, widow of Captain Roger Hinkle, USMC (HP 339).

Eta Rho Chapter Alumnus Captain Todd Travis (Western Kentucky) was a helicopter pilot in the United States Marine Corps. On Nov. 22, 1989, Todd was killed in a training exercise in the Mediterranean Ocean. Both in his college years and even after his death, many Eta Rho alumni became close friends of Todd’s family.

“I never saw a group of boys in my life that stood together as much as these did. If you got after one of them, you were just going to have to get them all, because they stuck that close together and stood by each other. If one of them got sick or something, they would try to help them or do the best they could to be their friend at the time when they needed it,” recounted Mr. Fred Travis, Todd’s father, as he described getting to know Todd’s chapter brothers.

“We got to know all of them well,” laughed Mr. Travis, reflecting how many of the brothers would eat meals with the Travis family or stay overnight.

A couple of months ago, Mr. Travis reached out to one of Todd’s chapter brothers, Buddy Jones. He asked Buddy if he would gather “the boys” to spend a day with Mr. and Mrs. Travis as they were advancing in age. So, Buddy got to work reaching out to Todd’s close friends, who were scattered among several states and Norway. Each of them immediately said yes.

“I thought it was unbelievable how far some of them came. We had one that flew over here and then went and picked a friend up that he had to drive a long way to get. He went and got him and brought him here to the reunion. When you fly in from out of town and then go get your friend that’s miles away, and then bring him to a reunion of all those boys, that’s something,” said Mr. Travis.

The reunion of Todd’s chapter brothers and the Travis family took place in late August in Glasgow, Ky. It was a day of stories, remembrance, a little sadness, and lots of laughter.

“Words can’t explain how Sue and I feel about these boys, or how we stayed in touch with them all these years, or how they’ve actually stayed in touch with us. And we don’t have the words to explain how we feel. We’re just so glad or happy. I don’t know. I don’t know a word to explain how we feel about these boys. And even though we can’t get out and be around them a lot because we’re not well enough, they mean so much to us. Todd would be really pleased that they still talk to us and that we still talk to them. And that’s just the kind they are, and that’s the way Todd was, and that’s the way we feel. They’re just like sons to us.

Each one knows there’s always a place for them to spend the night, there’s always a place for them to eat, or they know that this is just a place where they are welcome any time they want.”

For the Travis family, Todd’s initiation into Sigma Nu Fraternity meant more than the connections he would build during his years in college. Fraternity became family, and after 43 years since Todd’s initiation, this latest gathering underlines the importance and power of connection, love, and fellowship.

“To believe in the life of love; to win in the fresh morning of our youth the loyal love of faithful friends, who will go with us unmoved into the darkening shadows of life’s closing day; and so to seek and to find, to have and to hold the friendships that will abide.” – The Preamble of the Creed of Sigma Nu Fraternity by Walter J. Sears (Kansas)