Phi Kappa Sigma Forges Lifelong Bonds While Instilling Values

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“We have watched each other’s girlfriends become our wives and our children become friends to each other,” said Russell Hatton, ’78.

Before retiring in 2015, Russell worked for 33 years as a COBOL mainframe programmer for Wawa Convenience Stores in Pennsylvania. When the re-married father of two chose Penn State Phi Kappa Sigma, in particular, it was the opportunity to forge bonds with the brotherhood he found most appealing.

“I had several older friends from home, so the house was familiar to me,” he said. “While at PSU, the fraternity gave me an anchor—a place I could call home.”

That anchor also gave Russell memories he continues to cherish.

“My best memories were [of] Homecoming,” he said. “It was the time where the house looked its best. Alumni would come back and tell us how it was in the ‘old’ days. We had a formal dinner and then a band a party. They don’t do that anymore. It’s too bad that some things go away.”

Russell did his part to preserve those memories.

“I took many photographs while I was at PSU,” he said. “It’s not like today where everyone has a phone in their right hip pocket. They bring back the memories of the great times we all had.”

That sense of home and fraternity instilled values that shaped Russell’s professional life.

“Honor and respect and teamwork are the three values I took with me when I left Penn State,” he said. “I used these skills every day as I worked to lead collaborative teams that build software applications, and now work with the public in the improvement of my township.”

Those efforts keep Russell busy making a difference in his West Chester, Pennsylvania community.

“I spend much of my time as the vice-chair of the Westtown Township Planning Commission,” he said, “working to improve our township by new and improved ordinances and reviewing and approving new building and sub-divisions.”

Russell also continues to interact with his Brothers every month by serving on the board of Phi Kappa Sigma.

“This year I am working to improve our rush programs through better marketing and the use of social media,” he said.

Russell also makes regular efforts to keep those Phi Kappa Sigma bonds strong.

“I get together with many brothers of my era every year at a winter weekend sponsored by John Hellmann and every five years or so at Smith Mountain Lake in Virginia with many others,” he said, explaining that they also keep in touch through email and the Skulls Facebook group.

Russell cherishes relationships he has cultivated over the years. So much so, he advises recent alumni to do the same.

“Stay connected,” he said. “It’s much easier now to do this, but it has provided me with opportunities, both socially and professionally, that otherwise would not have occurred. Stay involved, with Penn State, PKS and the community where you live. I know it’s hard in the crazy, fast paced world we live in. But being involved gives me a sense of awareness, worth and accomplishments.”