In the late fall of 1921, Leonard Sheahan enlisted the help of William Olson, Clark Larkin, and Clyde Jungbluth to start the Whitewater Normal School’s first local fraternity. Together they became the four founding members of Phi Chi Epsilon. Shortly after their initial organization, Phi Chi Epsilon accepted their first two pledges Dwight Warner and Henry Van Duser. By April of 1922, membership in the fraternity had grown to nine and continued to expand steadily. Phi Chi Epsilon is still an active participant of UW-Whitewater’s Greek society and is approaching its 100th anniversary.
Today’s chapter of Phi Chi Epsilon is known for its academic excellence and dedication to community service. However, the chapter in the 1920s had a different claim to fame. In true Roaring 20’s fashion, the Phi Chis were notorious for their ability to organize a party. According to the local newspaper, Phi Chi Epsilon not only had good music and refreshments, but they also had the best decorations. For their annual formal in 1925, the Phi Chi brothers created an artificial moon that produced enough light for all 40 couples to dance by. It’s safe to say no one ever left a Phi Chi party disappointed by a lack of creativity.
 Epsilonian scrapbook, Phi Chi Epsilon Records – UWW MSS 16, Anderson Library Archives and Area Research, Anderson Library, University of Wisconsin – Whitewater, Whitewater, WI.
 “Home,” Phi Chi Epsilon, Accessed February 4, 2021. http://phichiepsilon.weebly.com/.
 “Normal School Fraternity Gives Delightful Party,” Whitewater Register (Whitewater, WI.), May 14, 1921.
In the years, 1966-68, Phi Chi’s held Bundle Parties, G.I. Parties and the one of kind, Funeral Party. For a Phi Chi Bundle Party, the Phi Chi and his date provided clothing to their partner to be worn, with size the only thing discussed beforehand. A lot of crazy outfits were then “modeled” at the party. The G.I. Party saw lots of US Army and other branch of services clothing being worn both by brothers and their dates. The unique Funeral Party included one brother willing to be put in a casket and mourned in the living room of the fraternity house by all. The decorations were typical of a funeral home as candles had been lit, dead flowers had been placed in baskets about the room, funeral music played and yet another fraternity brother acted as a preacher, giving testimony to the “deceased” and the great life he had lived. The culmination of this Saturday evening extravaganza was the carrying of the casket out the front door onto Main Street and placing it into a waiting hearse. Another fraternity brother had bought the hearse a year earlier as his transportation, never knowing how functional it might be. Drivers of cars on Main Street could not believe what they were seeing, stopped and tried to comprehend as all of the “bereaved relatives, (brothers and dates) dressed in their best funeral attire” filed out of the fraternity house to pay their respects as the casket was being carried by pallbearers and loaded into the hearse The fraternity house in those days was at 451 W. Main Street, at the triangle intersection and near to the Birge Fountain. Yes, there have been some great social events!
I would like to thank the Andersen Library for their posting of the Phi Chi Epsilon Centennial. For anyone interested may I suggest they go to (phichi.clubexpress.com) and view Phi Chi History Project on the Home Page menu; there are several fun reads for anyone interested. The world of Fraternity Life has changed dramatically in recent years. Their position of campus leadership is diminished because of rule changes and abuse by Fraternal groups with excesses in the pledge process and party problems.
Recognizing the problems that caused the decline in Frat life I would defend the system for it’s intended purpose, to instill the value of working for a common goal and the development of leadership qualities in its members. I would still encourage the young men of UW-Whitewater to consider Fraternity Life; I have lived it and experienced the growth in leadership in its members as we debated the issues concerning internal affairs of the Frat and our relationship with both the University and the City of Whitewater.
Check out Phi Chi Photo Gallery to recognize the depth of camaraderie between the many eras of men that have passed through the Halls of UWW and the annals of Phi Chi Epsilon.