Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Nebraska Wesleyan Fraternity Honors Two Brothers

Fundraiser will honor fallen fraternity brothers
By Melissa Lee

Benefit will be a tribute to a Wesleyan graduate and an incoming senior, both of whom died last summer.

Not many could put away food like Pat and Zach.

Like most college guys, the pair loved to eat - at the Nebraska Wesleyan University cafeteria, in their Zeta Psi fraternity kitchen, wherever the goods were around.

Where you found food, you found Pat McLaughlin and Zach Anderson, sparking up the room with their smiles and jokes. Seems fitting, then, that their fraternity brothers are honoring their memories with an all-you-can-eat buffet.

Zeta Psi is planning the Patty Zach Pancake Feed for this Thursday, a tribute to two close friends who died weeks apart last summer.

McLaughlin, 22, died June 24 from sudden cardiac arrest, a month after graduating from Wesleyan. Anderson, 21, a senior-to-be, followed July 31 while studying abroad in Germany.

The unexpected deaths of two of its members left Zeta Psi reeling, fraternity brothers remember. Now, they don't want their names to be forgotten.

"Last year was tough. It was really tough," said Zeta Psi member and Wesleyan third-year student Kyle Nelson.

"They weren't just faces in the crowd."

Benefits from the pancake feed - expected to draw 300 from around the community - will go toward establishing a scholarship in McLaughlin's honor and building an on-campus stone memorial for Anderson.

Excess money will go to a charity of the two families' choice, said Zeta Psi alum and December graduate Ben Nelson. Fraternity members also have expressed interest in donating some of the money to Wesleyan's ongoing sprinkler installation fund, created in November after a student died in a fraternity-house fire.

Zeta Psi also is planning a summer golf tournament to raise money for the McLaughlin scholarship; he was a top player at Lincoln East High School.

The scholarship will be based on personality, not grades, Kyle Nelson said, because that's what McLaughlin valued most."Pat was the kind of person that loved life."

Ben Nelson visited Anderson in Germany two weeks before he died. The two were lucky enough to attend multiple World Cup games, a lifelong dream of Anderson's.

Before he left, Nelson shook his best friend's hand and said he'd see him back home soon.

He has maintained contact with Anderson's father, Steve, as he has healed from Anderson's death.

"These boys were very close. They're close-knit, nice young gentlemen,"said Steve Anderson, who plans to attend the pancake feed.

During visits home to Hastings, his son talked often about his fraternity, he said, relating story after story about his friends. Now he's touched Zach's brothers are returning the kindness."We're pleased they're keeping us in their thoughts and prayers. Their hearts are in the right place."