Mom away from home

Mar 032011
Authors: Bonnie Cleveland

Ever miss your mom’s excellent meals or solid advice? Colorado State’s Sigma Phi Epsilon house mother Rita Williams fills this mother role in the hearts of the fraternity.

“Sig Ep is a home away from home. Rita is a mom away from home,” said former House President Bijah Gibson.

Originally hired as a cook, Rita Williams has impacted much more than appetites in her 15 years at Sigma Phi Epsilon.
Officially, her duties include cooking lunch and dinner Monday through Friday. Williams is also in charge of housekeeping, maintenance and cooking for special events. As a housemother, she acts as a liaison between alumni and undergraduates.

Unofficially, Williams is the go-to-girl for good advice, keeping the Sig Ep boys in line with her insight.

“She knows so much with 15 years in this environment, there’s not much she hasn’t seen,” said current Sig Ep President Billy Raddell.

Gibson described hypothetical life without Williams as being life without a friend. The daily conveniences of food and advice she provides for the house are deeply appreciated.When it comes to special events, Williams acts as a party planner and hostess. She caters for the Sig Ep spring formal and prepares a tailgate for every home football game. According to Gibson, she does a “classy, good job.”

This is no mere task, as tailgates can include up to 400 people.

“Rita works so hard but always manages to laugh in between,” Gibson said.

This housemother’s impact is remembered long after graduation.

“She is invited to alumni weddings,” Gibson said. “Rita is more than a cook. She plays a big role in a lot of guys’ lives.”

The Sig Ep fraternity boys appreciate Williams, a feeling that is reciprocated.

“I wouldn’t be here after 15 years if I didn’t enjoy what I’m doing, working with the guys,” Williams said.

Sig Ep is the only fraternity on campus with a house mother. So why don’t other frats have one to come home to?

Gibson said that many frats on campus don’t have a facility or a need for a house mother. Funding or lack of necessity can be other reasons to not have a house mom.

The role of a housemother is mutually beneficial to both Sig Ep’s members and to Williams.
Williams said that she enjoys the flexibility of her job.

“I’m kind of like my own boss with menu creativity,” Williams said. “Having summer off is a definite positive.”
Staff writer Bonnie Cleveland can be reached at

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