By Daniel Bettenhausen
On the morning of May 30, our brother Nik Jiruska passed away at the age of 23 after a three year fight against Ewing’s Sarcoma. Although the brothers of Iowa Beta are in mourning alongside his family and friends, we want to celebrate his vibrant and tenacious life.
Initiated into Phi Delta Theta’s Iowa Beta Chapter in the spring of 2012, Nik proved himself as the consummate Phi, reflecting a character in line with Phi Delta Theta’s three Cardinal Principles of Friendship, Sound Learning and Moral Rectitude. He will always be a man’s man and one of those rare people of whom no negative word could be said.
Nik was always there for his brothers. He tutored friends and mentored new Phis. Many a younger brother found his new life at college that much easier and that much more successful because of Nik. A stable presence in the Fraternity, Nik could get along with anyone. Elected as the chapter’s Warden, Nik cultivated an environment of respect within the chapter. Much loved and much respected, his brothers strove to live up to his example, because they didn’t want to disappoint him.
Nik was also very dedicated to his studies, and this work ethic allowed him to excel academically. Over the course of his four years as an active member, Nik consistently sat near the top of Iowa Beta’s GPA standings. This success helped him get into the Hawkinson Institute of Business Finance at the University of Iowa. This is an elite business organization offered through the Tippie College of Business that only offers membership to the top business students on campus.
In his spare time, Nik enjoyed watching movies and playing video games. He was particularly fond of Fallout, Call of Duty, and Assassin’s Creed. Nik also worked part-time as a student Cambus driver. Whenever he had a late-night weekend shift, many of the guys looked forward to hearing his stories of the crazy things he heard and saw while driving his route. Another passion of Nik’s was traveling the world. Two of his favorite experiences were studying abroad in London and visiting Italy with his wife Moleigh.
Nik’s fraternity brothers are better for knowing him and are mourning his loss, but we know our loss is small compared to the loss suffered by his wife Moleigh. Nik and Moleigh began dating in high school and continued their relationship all through college. Some brothers joked that they were the “power couple” of Iowa Beta, and it was clear that they were at their best when together. When Nik was diagnosed the first time, Moleigh was not only a rock for Nik, but also for those others who cared for him. She kept brothers updated on his condition, organized times when people could come for visits, and was by his side when the cancer returned after an initial period of remission. Nothing, not even Nik’s illness, could stop these two from grabbing as much joy as they could in the time they had together. The bond they have is what all of us wish for ourselves. With Nik as our brother, she is now and will forever be our sister.
Another thing one should know about Nik is that he prided himself on his sense of style. When it came to his appearance, he put his other brothers to shame. When Iowa Beta learned of Nik’s condition, the chapter wasted no time rallying to his side. And when he decided to proactively shave his signature locks, it turned into an event where many of his brothers shaved their own heads in solidarity.
The chapter also organized an annual benefit concert held in Nik’s honor. Between the two concerts held thus far, nearly $20,000 has been raised in his name with the proceeds split between Courage Ride and the Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics where he was treated. This is a cause that will continue for years to come and will forever resonate his legacy as a brother of Phi Delta Theta.
If so compelled, you can make a donation and/or learn about Team Nik’s Courage Ride team here. Donations can be made in honor of Nik Jiruska.
If you are in the Cedar Rapids area, a funeral services will be held on Saturday, June 4 at 11 am at Westminster Presbyterian Church located at 1285 3rd Ave SE, Cedar Rapids, IA 52503.
Though he was taken from us way too early, Nik is proof that no matter the outcome, you never truly lose the fight to cancer when you impact and inspire all those around you for the better. Now we as Phis can learn from his example and persevere when faced with any challenge no matter how insurmountable it may appear.
Nik is survived by his wife, Moleigh, his parents, Susan and Rod, his beloved dog, Maple and all of his Brothers in the Bond.
You are and will forever be the man, Nik.
In coelo quies est.