Not only do the brothers of Sigma Phi Epsilon embrace their fraternity’s guiding principles of virtue, diligence, and brotherly love, they appreciate those values in others. In the eyes of Frank Catrickes, W’98; Nick Bhuta, W’96, WG’97; Paul Godinez, C’96; and Josh Thimons, W’98, WG’99, there was perhaps no brother who embodied those principles more gracefully than head cook Jack Shores.
For 45 years William Lash “Jack” Shores’ job was to prepare meals for the brothers of SigEp. But it was his personal investment―the deep bonds he forged with each and every young man in his care―that inspired these four brothers to establish the Jack Shores Memorial Sigma Phi Epsilon Scholarship.
“By the time I joined SigEp in 1994, Jack was literally a campus institution,” recalls Catrickes. “Not only could he remember every single brother who ever came through the house, but he knew where they were from and could tell you at least one good story about each one.”
For many brothers, Shores, who grew up in the pre-Civil Rights South, served as a kind of ethical compass, offering gentle course correction or camaraderie whenever needed. He was also masterful at teaching, as Catrickes puts it, “stuff you weren’t going to learn in class.” His life lessons came in many forms, from stories to advice to an occasional “schooling” on the fraternity pool table―a favored method employed by Shores when he perceived a dose of humility was in order.
“Jack was the soul of SigEp, the glue that held us together from year to year and decade to decade,” says Catrickes. “Most of us had never lived away from home before, and he became like a father figure to us. We’re all still close and our bond today is stronger for his involvement in our lives.”
Numerous SigEp brothers managed to stay in touch with Shores throughout their post-Penn years. He attended many of their weddings, exchanged cards and phone calls with them, spent time with their families, and more. In fact, Shores became so interwoven into the fabric of SigEp that in 1977, he was officially initiated into the fraternity.
“It was a comfort to have him around,” recalls Catrickes. “Even the way he greeted us―with such love and sincerity. You could be having a bad day, but when Jack said, ‘Well, hello, young man,’ you just felt OK. I can’t explain it.”
Shores passed on January 25, 2011. He is mourned by hundreds of fraternity brothers, many of whom attended his funeral in Philadelphia. He was remembered as a humble, tolerant, and generous man, who was full of charm, wisdom, and wit.
“The four of us decided that a scholarship would create an everlasting tribute to Jack―forever connect him and all of our brotherhood,” says Catrickes. “Because he left such a positive impact on our lives, it would only be fitting for our tribute to have a positive impact on the lives of others.”
The newly endowed Jack Shores Memorial Sigma Phi Epsilon Scholarship will be awarded every four years with preference given to someone from Shores’ North Philadelphia neighborhood. Endowed on behalf of the entire SigEp brotherhood, the scholarship serves as a lasting tribute to the man who made an indelible imprint on their lives.
“All brothers, past and present, are encouraged to contribute to the scholarship fund in Jack’s honor,” says Catrickes. “May his memory be eternal.”
Watch the video to learn more about the life and legacy of Jack Shores.