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by Abigail Van Buren

Fraternity Brothers Take Their Obligations to Heart

DEAR ABBY: When our beloved son, Joel, was killed as a passenger in a one-car accident in October 1993, my husband and I were adopted by his college fraternity. These boys have surrounded us and enveloped us with love. It began at the funeral, when they all wore black armbands and openly showed their grief. An elderly friend said, "All we ever hear about are the others. If these are the youth of our country, then America is safe."

Joel's fraternity brothers initiated my husband, Patrick, into the fraternity and made me the chapter's first "Sweetheart of Sigma Pi." We are the only parents invited each year to their formal (where we present the Joel Patrick Sahli Award, named after our son). We receive Mother's Day and Father's Day cards, and phone calls, notes and postcards from European graduation trips. We are invited to their weddings, and they never pass through our area without visiting.

We would, of course, wish for our son back in a heartbeat. But we feel his presence through his brothers, who each carry him in their hearts. Loyola Marymount University's Sigma Pi are the epitome of kindness and love -- they are the BEST! -- ROSALINDA SAHLI, CARMEL-BY-THE-SEA, CALIF.

DEAR MRS. SAHLI: Thank you for your uplifting letter. I was delighted that so many readers responded to the suggestion that they write about the acts of kindness they had received. Since good news offsets the stressful tragedies we read about daily, I'm gratified to be able to print more of these heartwarming stories. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: Recently, while traveling through Mississippi, I panicked when I realized that I had left my billfold with credit cards and cash in the restroom of a gas station in Jackson, Miss., over two hours ago. As we turned back to try to find it, we doubted we could -- but hoped to avoid the complications of losing credit cards, etc.

When I got to the gas station, the employees informed me that a customer had found the billfold, turned it in, and that it had been held for me and I would have received a phone call about it that night, had I not returned. Through tears of relief and disbelief I tried to reward the employees -- but they would not accept anything, saying that maybe someday someone would do the same for them. -- JOLEEN LEWIS, SHAWNEE, OKLA.

DEAR ABBY: I was on my way to San Antonio, Texas, when my car had a blowout. A darling lady stopped to help me change the tire. The mechanics had put the lug nuts on my tire crooked, and had tightened them with an impact wrench -- so one lug stud was completely broken off, and the threads on another had been stripped. Not only did she help change the tire, she also followed me back to the nearest gas station, which was 20 miles from where the blowout occurred. Because of the damaged wheel, the trip back at 40 miles per hour took a lot longer than it would have at normal speed. She remained with me until I could locate a service station to help me with the wheel.

These days, very few people stop to help others; it's just too dangerous. However, that made no difference to this generous lady. She is truly one of God's angels here on earth. -- KAY HOLMES, SAN ANGELO, TEXAS

DEAR READERS: These letters, and those I printed last week, are only the tip of the iceberg. In coming months I will share more of these uplifting letters with you.