Ben Jarmul ’81: I cannot imagine life without Phi Sig
“My father said that joining Phi Sig was the best thing I ever did!” Ben Jarmul ’81 says.
Born in Pittsburgh, Jarmul grew up in Oakmont, PA. His father was a laborer at a nearby paint factory and was a treasurer for the local credit union. After seeing their father working on the books most nights, it was no surprise that two of Ben’s older sisters went on to Penn State to study accounting … and soon after Ben applied to Penn State to study accounting too.
After graduating in 1977, he started with the summer semester at Penn State and met Charles “Chuck” Thompson ’81. Chuck’s dad was a Phi Sig, so Chuck was profiled and recruited into Phi Sig and was very popular during fall rush. “I just rode Chuck’s coattails into Phi Sig,” Jarmul says.
As an active, Jarmul was a comptroller twice and treasurer once, working alongside Robert “Bear” Koehler ’42, long-time chapter advisor and alumni board treasurer. “Bear got me an “unofficial” internship one summer in Miami,” Jarmul remembers. “I graduated in May 1981 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting. I was also in Penn State’s Honors Program and Internship Program which were started and co-led by Bear. Thanks Bear!”
Jarmul says that while at Penn State, he thought of Phi Sig as “being just a bunch of regular guys.” “We were guys with varied backgrounds and interests,” he says. “We all seemed to get along, had each other’s backs, and the constant influx of pledges each trimester kept the house clean. Life was much simpler back then.”
He says that his best memories during the school years were the times just hanging out with the brothers. “We had road trips to West Virginia, Lehigh, and Maryland, casting in a Rocky Bleier movie, and trips to see my brothers and their families. One notable was my graduation party back in Oakmont when a bunch of my brothers near and far made the trip. It was at this time my father said that joining Phi Sig was the best thing I ever did!”
After graduation, Jarmul went on and spent 13 years with Ernst & Young starting in Houston, TX and then Pittsburgh. “I then spent 23 years with Baker Tilly starting in Philadelphia and then Pittsburgh once again before retiring in 2017,” he says. “Since ‘retirement,’ I have taken a handful of interim assignments, and currently I am the interim chief financial officer for Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network in Allentown, PA.”
Jarmul has been married to Pam Santoro for over 32 years. The couple resides in Pittsburgh and has a second home on Hilton Head Island, SC. “Pam has been a Pennsylvania Workers’ compensation judge for over 21 years. Her brother, Steven Santoro ’85, was a Phi Sig maybe five years after me. Our daughter, Samantha, also went to Penn State, made a few trips to Phi Sig in her time there, and currently works for Amazon in Sydney, Australia.”
Jarmul joined the Alumni Board while Dick Doherty ’58 was president, taking over as treasurer when Bear handed him the books.
“Dick was doing his best trying to keep Phi Sig alive for a number of years,” Jarmul says. “Then we started the Capital Campaign under the leadership of Bill DeGrandis ’77 and construction on the house under the leadership of David Hyland ’80, and Phi Sig got new life. Thanks to Bill and David and the many of you who provided your support!”
After a break in service, Jarmul retired from the board and handed the books over to Bruce Balmat ’70 for a number of years before rejoining under the leadership of Fred DeCock ‘80 taking over as treasurer once again.
He says, “Currently, Phi Sig is under the leadership of Martin Barbato ’79 and he has done an excellent job with the actives as both our board president and chapter advisor. I fully support Martin’s vision of making Phi Sig debt free in the very near future. This will enable us to sustain Phi Sig for generations to come.”
He’s kept in touch with his brothers over the years, because he says that Phi Sig is family. “Even after all these years, seldom does a day go by without some contact with my brothers. I could not imagine life without Phi Sig. Damn Proud.”