Born in Altoona in 1945, Bill Neugebauer grew up as an only child of a single mother, at a time when it wasn't fashionable for parents to divorce.
While he had cousins who were fun and doesn't think he "missed out on a lot" growing up here, he never had brothers.
That changed when he got to Indiana University of Pennsylvania, where he majored in elementary education.
Bill Neugebauer displays the medallion of office for his new position as grand president of the Phi Sigma Kappa international fraternity.
There, after joining Sigma Kappa Phi, Neugebauer suddenly had an abundance of people "who cared about me as if I were their brother."
The experience fulfilled his needs so well that for Neugebauer - now an Altoona city councilman - it became virtually a lifetime commitment.
The commitment recently culminated with Neugebauer's election to the international presidency of Phi Sigma Kappa - the fraternity that absorbed the local IUP fraternity with the similar name a year after Neugebauer himself joined.
"I'm proud of him and happy for him," said Adam Brender, president of the Penn State Altoona chapter of Phi Sigma Kappa, for which Neugebauer has been longtime adviser.
It wasn't a direct trajectory.
After graduating from IUP in elementary education with wife-to-be, fellow elementary education major and sorority member Linda Morford of Greensburg, Neugebauer moved home to Altoona and got married, with both he and Linda getting jobs with the Altoona Area School District.
He didn't lose touch with Phi Sigma and friends like pledge brothers Eric Blackhurst of Sewickley, Carl Fye of Reynoldsville, Don Woodburn of Washington, Pa., and Fred Nesbitt of Murraysville.
But mostly the connection was restricted to membership in the fraternity alumni group, paying dues and attending an occasional function.
Then in 1992, he was in his den at home in Fairview watching TV, when there was a knock at the door.
Neugebauer was dubious at the sight of several young men.
But they identified themselves as Penn State Altoona students, said they knew he was a Phi Sig alumnus, and told him they needed an adviser.
"Come on in," Neugebauer said. "Let's talk."
Their proposal was appealing enough, as it would allow him to quit after a year.
"Tomorrow, it will be 20 years," he said Wednesday, sitting in the same den.
Over the course of his service to the campus chapter, Neugebauer served a total of 416 members, Brender said.
"He's touched every one of their lives," he said. "Anything asked of him, Bill jumps."
Just this year, Neugebauer helped to coordinate at least 10 charitable events, including ones for the American Cancer Society, the Altoona Community Theatre, the Altoona Symphony Orchestra, Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art and Operation Small Steps, which raises money to send needy people for orthopedic operations, Brender said.
People in the community know him from his teaching and his service in the city, and he passes on the information, giving the fraternity brothers opportunities to help, Brender said.
The fraternity's ideals are brotherhood, scholarship and character, and Neugebauer lives up to them, Brender said.
During his time as chapter adviser, Neugebauer has won national Chapter Adviser of the Year three times, as well as the Devoted Service Award and the Founders Award.
He ran for and won election to the fraternity's Grand Council in 2003.
He became international or "grand" president this fall after Grand President Tim Vojtasko of Butler took a job that created a conflict of interest with the post and had to resign.
The seven-member Grand Council met by conference call then, a member nominated Neugebauer - the oldest - someone seconded him, someone else nominated a second member, no one seconded that second nominee, and Neugebauer was in.
He was installed in State College a couple of weeks ago.
As grand president, Neugebauer plans to encourage good communication between the three major divisions of the fraternity: Grand Council, Foundation and Properties.
"I want to ensure everybody is on the same track," he said.
Doing so can help ensure the fraternity is making prudent financial and property investments, he said.
His tenure as grand president will end in August, although it might continue, if he decides to run for his own term.
His wife said she has urged him to do that.
His decision depends on how it goes as president, Neugebauer said.
Fraternities are once again fulfilling a need that people have been feeling more urgently in recent times, as they get away from "me, me, me" and move towards joining and doing good for others, Neugebauer said.
The brotherhood and selflessness that the fraternity exists to encourage are exemplified by the reaction of Altoona chapter members when Mike Kiel, 19, was shot in the neck after a confrontation he didn't start at a convenience store in Wehnwood in 1993 on the eve of his initiation, Neugebauer said.
Kiel instantly became quadriplegic.
About 60 fraternity brothers came to the hospital that night to visit, members stood vigil beside Kiel's bed at a trauma center more than an hour away for two months, the chapter raised $5,000 to help him, and members eventually began taking him back and forth to school from his home in Portage, according to an article Kiel wrote for the fraternity's publication, The Signet.
Members also helped make the family home accessible and brothers routinely performed renal catheterization on Kiel, so he could attend school - doing a critical and highly personal job normally done by a registered nurse.
During Kiel's recovery, Kiel's brothers would eat, shower "and cry" at Neugebauer's home.
Those brothers - and the ones he first met at IUP - are the kind of friends who stay with you forever, Neugebauer said.
You may not keep contact constantly, but you can always pick it up, even after long silence, he said.
When he went off to college, he was looking for family, he said.
He found it. And kept it.
Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 949-7038.