Published: May 12, 2024

We were saddened to learn that two women who had served as house mothers and/or cooks (or both!) had recently passed away. Within the past three months, brothers from Chi/Auburn and Beta Chi/Allegheny received the sad news and reflected on their collegiate days and the love and care provided by their 'mom.' We thank these ladies and all the women who have filled the role of 'mom' for our brothers while they are away from home.

Brothers of Chi/Auburn Remember Wanda West

Past International President Joseph Couch posted:

"I was so sad to learn that Wanda West, better known as "Mom," passed away. The Auburn Theta Chi chapter was blessed to have her as our house mother from 1993 until 2000. She helped us manage the kitchen and cook (and helped us hire Miss Ermon) but more importantly, she struck the perfect balance of being an adviser and a loyal friend at the same time.

A fun fact - she ran a convenience store located in the Eagles West complex, which just happened to be literally 10 feet from our driveway. That was my first exposure to green beer on St. Patrick's Day!

We quickly bonded when she became our house mother, as she was from north Alabama like me, and we hit it off right away. She really helped keep me level the year I was Chapter President and we often stayed at her store until the wee hours of the morning, just talking about life and shooting the breeze. She would do her books, and I would keep her computer up and running, as well as do small repairs around the store. She loved her Bloody Marys, with Clamato of course, and I made sure the beer in her taps didn't spoil! It wasn't unusual for us to sneak into the kitchen at the chapter house and have a 2:00 a.m. breakfast before calling it a night. There are so many memories - riding around town in her van with a bunch of brothers, driving around and causing trouble when she was running for Mayor, and she and Phil coming to our formal in New Orleans in 1994. I thought about her on two different occasions: the first being when O.J. Simpson died. We watched his entire trial like two crazies addicted to soap operas. And I thought of her on Chi Chapters 106th anniversary. She and Phil joined us at our Centennial celebration in 2018 and that was really the highlight of the event for me. That is the last time I saw her.

She made my life and many other lives better. She had just become Theta Chi's house mother when I met her, but she loved the SAEs, Sigma Nus and every other group as much as she loved us. I got to know David Lewis, Erle Morring, and a lot of other top shelf people from just hanging out at her store. She employed a lot of Theta Chis as well.

We weren't the most well-mannered group in the world, but we were always better when Mom was around. She was a great friend and confidant, and also a very strong woman. My fraternity experience was better because of her. Many things have changed within the last 30 years, but one change I really don't like is that not nearly as many fraternity chapters have house mothers these days. It makes a big difference.

Wanda "Mom" West was a class act and it was a blessing to know her. My prayers go to Phil and her entire family as they grieve her passing. I already miss her."

Grant Williams (1994) posted:

Thinking about Wanda West who was our House Mother at Theta Chi in Auburn. She passed away and some of our brothers have posted and shared their thoughts and prayers along with fond memories of her. Prayers to her family. I wanted to share my thoughts with my brothers, her family, and friends.

She was a special lady who we got to know well since she ran Mom’s Party Shop next door to our house (literally across our driveway) for years. She was so nice and friendly to everyone and she always made time for conversation. We worked up the courage to ask her if she would be our House Mother by the time I was about to be a junior. Amazingly, she said yes. We couldn’t believe how lucky we were to have her join us. But we didn’t even know how great she would be as our House Mother.

She was an amazing woman who made us so much better. She had so much patience for our foolishness and encouraged some of it. She actually lived in our house. We worked really hard to fix up her suite for her. She was an adviser, she was a counselor, an advocate, a shoulder to cry on, she was fun, she would tell you things straight. She knew that we wanted to help elevate our chapter and she was a strong influence to that end. I know it is hard for people to understand why she would want to be a House Mother and put up with us, but she seemed to really care and enjoy it.

She kept up with everyone and wanted to hear about their lives. I think her support for our mental health can’t be overstated. I am so very proud that she chose to be part of our Fraternity experience. We were so lucky. Here's a photo of Wanda at Chi Chapter's parents and alumni celebration when I was chapter president in 1993. She is pictured on the left and my Mom is on the right. RIP Wanda and thank you for everything!"

Brothers of Beta Chi/Allegheny remember Doris Briggs

Pat Sinnott (1978) posted: "I don't remember Esther, who was house mother for many years, since she left while I was still a pledge. I remember Pat who followed her, but didn't last. Then we got Aggie, who the Delts let go, to fill in during my first stint working in the kitchen as assistant steward. She was cantankerous and complaining. She used A LOT of pots and pans. I did get one compliment that term when I took the lids off the ketchup bottles and soaked them in soapy water so Eddie Weissman who was washing dishes that term could clean up the crusty ketchup. Eddie became President next year and we hired Doris. I took over as steward and worked my last two years with her. She was a very loving person. Never angry, seldom complained, she really loved her boys and treated us like family. Senior year I spent money on Parent's Day and little sisters' teas buying flowers for the tables, renting vases and table cloths, and she always made the money available without having to cut costs. She really took care of us. I still cook two of her recipes she made for special occasions."

Kristopher Boushie (1983) said: "What a wonderful lady and beautiful soul. So many loving memories of spending time with her. She was mother to so many of us away at school."

Bill Hartz (1979) said: "Doris was a wonderful “Mom” to help guide us through College. I fondly remember spending hours in the kitchen just talking. And lest we forget - she was a wonderful cook and took care of her “boys”. Having spent my college years with her and reading her obituary, it’s clear that her loving and giving heart and personality had a profound affect on many of us. Rest in Peace my friend."

Brad Marino (1988) said: "I'm so sad to hear of Doris’ passing. I was part of her kitchen crew at Theta Chi fraternity for several years working with her, and she was the kindest, sweetest individual that I have ever met. She was truly our “Mom” not only while we were in college, but forever after. The fraternity house was never the same after she retired. She is loved by hundreds of us. What a lady. She was great to talk to, got me through some tough times. Will never forget the 'Doris, The Mother' sung to the tune of The Who's 'Boris The Spider.'"

Greg Rabil (1986) said: "Doris was a wonderful 'Mom' for our Theta Chi brotherhood at Allegheny. She helped make our house more of a home, and will forever be a fond memory of my college life."

Jim Steele (1981) said: "Doris was a wonderful part of my Allegheny Theta Chi experience. She truly made the house a home. Always cheerful, willing to listen and offer encouragement. And yes, she put the home in home cooking."

We again thank Wanda and Doris for their love, compassion, patience, and dedication to the men of Chi/Auburn and Beta Chi/Allegheny. We are better men because of your guidance, watchful eyes, and listening ears. We will miss you - but will see you the next time we come "home."