3 min read

A brother remembered and a legacy passed on

Thomas Theodore Mortenson2Thomas Theodore Mortenson3“In a day and age of 140 character tweets, abbreviated texts, and cursory emails, the young men and in particular Alumni Advisor Randy Lee Ritterman, have gone above and beyond for a grieving family of a now passed Lambda Chi Alpha at University of North Dakota chapter president, circa 1956”

Upon writing her father’s obituary, Laura Mortenson Pavlides of Charleston, S.C. was trying to do her best to honor her father’s wishes of being remembered as a member of the organizations he held a deep admiration for.

As a man who wore his LCA ring in place of his wedding ring, with his wife’s approval of course, and as a man who travelled the world teaching doctors to use his company’s medical devices, Thomas Theodore Mortenson was an international advocate for the fraternity, showing off his ring and explaining the source of his pride to doctors from Dubai to Ireland to New York.

So when Pavlides reached out to the chapter in Grand Forks, N.D., where her father spent his years as an undergraduate member and chapter president of Epsilon-Zeta, Pavlides didn’t expect to receive much of an answer.

Instead, she was put in contact with alumni advisor for the chapter, Randy Ritterman, who went above and beyond.

“I thought I might get an email back one day. Perhaps a mention in a 2016 newsletter. Instead, I got emails back in just hours,” said Pavlides.

“Randy took charge. He replied immediately and often. He did so many things,” Pavlides explained.

“He found my dad’s zeta number, got my dad’s photo and blurb appearing on the Lambda Chi All Members Page on Facebook and in the EZZ Reader newsletter. He answered questions regarding the current house and its history, even offering to give us a tour! He sent photos of the current house and the last big alumni reunion there in October. He mentioned laying white roses on his parent’s graves and let me know that was the fraternity’s flower, so I could be very prepared for the memorial service for my dad. He even helped me find the bookstore so I could order a UND sweatshirt.”

Pavlides also explained how amazed she was at how kind a stranger could be, to which Ritterman replied, “You are the daughter of one of our brothers, and married to another — it is to be expected…”

“Once a brother of Lambda Chi Alpha Chapter Epsilon Zeta Chapter at the University of North Dakota, always a brother,” said Ritterman.”

“When Laura reached let us know that Brother Tom Mortenson had passed away and that one of his last requests was to inform his fraternity chapter, the active members knew we had truly lost one of our own.” He said.

ChapterCard1ChapterCard2Shortly after a letter arrived in the mail, a card from Ritterman signed by members of the current North Dakota chapter.

“I cried,” said Pavlides.

“What an amazing organization. What deep and generous and thoughtful brothers you have gathered. Thank you.” She added

“Because of Randy’s blurb on Facebook, and the chapter’s newsletter, I have received calls and emails from a few wonderful older brothers, including a famous North Dakota judge (retired) who told me precious stories that I didn’t know about my dad,” shared Pavlides. “It is absolutely heart warming at this time of grief to hear.

“I also am now in contact with one of my dad’s groomsmen from his wedding (in Iowa!) that he had lost touch with,” she added. “It’s all really wonderful — and all due to Randy and the International headquarters’ care and quick action and thorough diligence.”

With two sons starting their collegiate journey in the next few years, Pavlides’ family looks to strengthen their connection to Lambda Chi Alpha with two boys following in their father’s and grandfather’s footsteps, demonstrating that Lambda Chi Alpha truly is, “A Lifetime of True Brotherhood.”

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