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Oil Field Trash


by Jerry Fields (Texas State)

Editor's Note: Brother Fields and his late wife Linda Gregg Fields (Chi Omega Fraternity) are the 2020 recipients of the Foundation for Fraternal Excellence's Outstanding Philathropist Award. Their gifts to the Sigma Nu Educational Foundation have totaled more than $2.7 million, and have made possible innovations in educational programs and renovations to Sigma Nu's Headquarters. Brother Fields also continues to serve as a volunteer with the Eta Tau (Texas State) Chapter. In all regards, Brother Fields generously gives his time, talent, treasure, and today his story.

When I go around and tell people I grew up poor, they sort of chuckle and nod and mention they also grew up in a frugal family. What they don’t realize is that when I say poor, I mean poor. I mean days of hungry stomachs and tattered clothes. You see, I grew up in the oil fields of West Texas. Back then, being an oil field laborer was not just back-breaking work, it was low paying work. It also meant moving around a lot to go after work and not wait for it to come to you.

And every time we moved, I had to change schools. That meant starting from scratch at every school, with a big social disadvantage. It happened so often it was almost like a tradition for me. I’d go to a new school and the first thing I’d get label as wasn’t the athlete, the smart guy, or even the class clown. It’d be Jerry, the oil field trash. Now I wasn’t the only one obviously, but there certainly weren’t many of us.

And that’s the cross I carried on my shoulders all throughout school. While other kids went to summer camps, I spent summers with manual labor.

So, when I went off to Texas State University and someone approached me about joining a fraternity, my immediate response was simple: No.

I told them I didn’t want to join a fraternity. Why? Because I grew up being bullied, mocked, and derided because I didn’t come from the right school or social background. I went through 18 years of that, why in the world would I say yes to four more in college, let alone pay for it?

I’m of course referring to hazing. I had heard the stories and rumors, and even seen with my own eyes the level to which some of my peers would stoop, just to please someone else.

But then that fella mentioned that he wanted me to join a new fraternity that was starting up. It was actually founded against hazing and every man was expected to pull his own weight, contribute equally, and no one cared if I came from the oil patch, the trailer park, the White House, or the Moon. They only cared if I committed to living my life by three principles: Love, Honor, and Truth.

So, I said yes to that invite and I’ve never regretted it since. I was immediately welcomed as an equal and I was reminded through our Ritual and law that Sigma Nu wasn’t founded to exert power over their fellow man, but to lift up, celebrate, and support the uncommon man who pledges his life to Honor, and Love and Truth.

I share all this with you because I hope it inspires you to consider the most auspicious time our Fraternity finds itself in. In a world divided, with so many feeling so alone, lost, or marginalized, can Sigma Nu not be that shining light calling men to honorable action in unity?

I think it can. And I think it can propel the dreams and visions of men to fulfill all their potential and truly leave a positive legacy on this world.

It did for this Texas boy and it did for the men who invited him to be an equal from day one and judged others only by the content of their character.

It just takes Love, Honor, and Truth. Nothing less.

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9 North Lewis Street, P.O. Box 1869, Lexington, Virginia 24450
Phone: (540) 463-1869 | Fax: (540) 463-1669 | Email: headquarters@sigmanu.org

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