Theta-Xi of Kappa Sigma has a long illustrious history of honors. From the early days on the campus of Tri-State College to the present Kappa Sigma brothers on the freshly named campus of Trine University.
Ralph Trine Given Sagamore
ANGOLA — Describing him as a "particularly great American," Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels Wednesday morning named Steuben County business owner and philanthropist Ralph Trine a Sagamore of the Wabash.
Daniels traveled to Trine University in Angola to surprise Ralph Trine, a university trustee and benefactor, with the honor.
The Sagamore of the Wabash is the governor's highest honor bestowed on a citizen. Daniels said when determining standards for receiving the honor, Trine surpasses them all.
"You just don't have very many citizens like him. A state like ours can never get enough citizens like that," Daniels said.
"I need not tell anyone in this audience what the Trine family has meant to this university, to the growth of its mission, to the fabulous facilities and therefore the attractiveness to the best and brightest students, the kind I was enjoying visiting with out there in the hall," Daniels told the gathering in Trine University's Fabiani Theatre.
"I think it's so important to note, and I know Ralph never fails to note, this is a two-way street," Daniels said.
Daniels said the education Ralph Trine received from the university as a student allowed him to build his set of companies that have provided hope and a better life for thousands of people.
"And that success reciprocally then made possible the gifts, which have made this an even greater place than it was when young Ralph Trine studied here. And it is that circle of hard work in the classroom, leading to success in life and hard work in life leading to success that at least in the best of people is given back, is paid back to those who made it possible. That is one of the most special characteristics of the American experience." Daniels said.
After graduation from Tri-State College, Trine returned to Michigan to work with his family's business. That business eventually moved to Angola in 1982 as the first industrial resident of Angola Industrial Growth Park. Since that time, Vestil Manufacturing has grown exponentially.
Trine has been a supporter and board member of Trine University, donating the T. Furth Center for Performing Arts and making numerous other significant contributions. A nature and animal lover, he and his family donated the former Oakhill Conference and Retreat Center to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources Division of Parks and Recreation to be used as the Trine State Recreation Area, an annex to Pokagon State Park.
"The tradition of philanthropy, of people giving freely of their earnings generously to good causes, to those less fortunate, to great universities, is very particularly American. And that makes Ralph Trine a particularly great American," Daniels said.
Accepting the award, Trine deflected credit from himself to others, especially his wife, Sheri.
"Well, certainly I'm very humbled to get this act of appreciation, but I really think that it's me that should be the one that appreciates everything that has been accomplished by so many people," Trine said.
"If you come around this campus on Sunday morning, you will often see Sheri and I around here enjoying watching the kids, enjoying the improvements that are going on here. It really is a great feeling that we have, and it's part of the appreciation that we would like to express to everybody else that has done so much."
To the laughter of the audience, Trine said his wife not only spends Sundays on campus, but Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and more.
"She really has rallied to the cause and does a great job for the university," he added.
Making sure Trine was in town for Wednesday's surprise presentation also was a challenge. Sheri Trine said she and her husband had been scheduled to leave for Florida. Believing he would be meeting a college alumnus, Trine agreed to delay his trip.
"It was one of the most difficult things I've ever done, because we share everything," Sheri Trine said of keeping the secret from her husband.
She said the Trines' business has benefited from the talents of engineers, managers and other employees who were educated at the university.
"Those employees are what made us grow and do well," she said. "We're giving back to the university. We love it."