Phi Phi Brothers Speak Up

In last month’s e-letter, we sent out a survey to our Phi Phi Alumni. Now, we’d like to share some of our favorite responses with you! If you want to answer these questions yourself, please CLICK HERE to take the survey. You may see your Phi Phi memories, photos, or reflections published in a future newsletter or e-letter. We’d love to hear from all our Phi Phi Alumni! Here are your Brothers’ responses. 

Jon Greenawalt ‘61

“My experience with our Order and the great men who are part of it have contributed their skills, caring, and support to me in immeasurable ways, including helping me to design and deliver leadership skills that I have used in my consulting profession. I believe it is my responsibility and honor to give back so that Sigma Chi can continue to build future leaders for the world.

The most valuable part of my Sigma Chi experience was learning to respect, appreciate, and cooperate with a wide range of different temperaments, talents, convictions, and backgrounds. My son, Jon Jr. is s Phi Phi Sig, along with my older brother and father, who were Phi Phi Sigs as well. My Granddaughter Allegra is a freshman at Penn, and my Grandson Julian will be in the freshman class this fall. I still lead my consulting firm, Personal Mastery Programs, and am still active in assisting the Fraternity in training both alumni and undergraduates.”

Michael Grossman ‘99

“I believe firmly in giving back to those who have helped me along the way in life. Some of my best memories from Penn happened with my Phi Phi brothers at my side. The experiences and relationships we built could only be made possible with adequate funding, both from existing brothers and generous alums. There are some brothers who could use the financial assistance. If I can help to fill that gap and take away even a small part of that financial burden for some brothers so that they can have the experiences I had as a part of Sigma Chi, I am highly motivated to give each year.

I have always strived to surround myself with people who can enrich my own life. Sigma Chi at Penn seems to consistently attract people who cared about academics, the Penn community – through sports or arts, and one another. My brothers motivated me to do better in each one of those areas, and they still do today.

At its full potential, I think that the alumni association can help build better bonds and leverage relationships across classes, old and young. The power of the Phi Phi network has really not been leveraged to its fullest, in my view.

I recently got to spend time with many of the brothers from the ’99 class at our 20th reunion which was great. I see Bobby Dziedziech ’99 when I am in London for work. I would like to go for long runs followed by yogurt, cereal, and a banana with George Bell ’99 more frequently. I have also gotten to know Bobby Alexander ‘14 who I randomly met a few years back while coaching my son’s hockey team in South Boston. Bobby was a volunteer coach in the organization, and I recognized his Penn hockey jacket. After a brief introduction, I discovered he was a Phi Phi. 

I have lived in Boston since graduating from Penn in 1999. In fact, I still live in the same South End neighborhood that I first moved to but now share my house with my wife, Abby, and two boys, Tyler (10) and Jack (7). Outside of my work as a portfolio manager at MFS Investments, I spend a lot of time at the rink and on the athletic fields coaching my sons’ hockey and lacrosse teams and watching them play soccer.”

Ronald Woodmansee ‘82

“It is always important to give back and I have a lot of organizations to which I do, nothing huge for any of them, but every little bit helps. The Sigma Chi Foundation does disperse funds to the local chapter for scholarships for those that need and deserve it so it is a win-win.

Obviously, the most valuable part of my Sigma Chi experience was the brotherhood. That fellowship creates an instant and strong bond, whether I meet someone from my chapter or another, and regardless of our ages

My graduating class had 22 brothers and many of us have stayed local and/or are local very often. People such as Mark Kocent ‘82, who has been invaluable as House Corp Leader and the overall oversight of the chapter house. Also, Paul Garvey ‘82, Jerry Knorr ‘82 (AKA Wazzo), Erich Wunsch ‘82, Steve Adler ‘82, Steve Bujno ‘82, etc. Lucky to have many as clients, as well as brothers from other classes so I keep in contact with quite a few others too.

Still working harder than ever, year 39 as a self-employed insurance “geek” (a broker) and really just enjoying life with my wife, kids that are all doing well (one in grad school at Penn), and 2 young grandchildren. Giving back when I can to organizations like the Union League Legacy Foundation (chair of the Good Citizen Day committee) and the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life here in Marlton, NJ where I live and work.”

James Hatch ‘71

“Phi Phi played a big role in my college life, introduced me to lifelong friends, and connected me with people I otherwise might not know. If I’m fortunate enough to have the opportunity to support such an organization, I will. Lifelong friends. I continue to be close friends with Bert MacKay, Mike Rosko, and Dick Waldbauer.  If we don’t see each other, we still share frequent emails.  I also keep in touch with Merle Stein and Rick Klich, all Phi Phi Class of ‘71. Happily and busily retired, part-time college professor, charitable volunteer, ever hopeful golfer, and proud grandpa.”

David Istock ‘94

“I try to remember to donate a little each year since graduation to give something back. I recognize there are probably always house and other improvements that could use some funding and I would like to see Sigma Chi always maintain good standing at the university.

Sigma Chi has led to some great friendships. Since I’m not originally from the Philadelphia area or the East Coast, it gave me a more meaningful connection with the university. I appreciate the periodic newsletter communications to hear how things are going on campus. As we all live in the San Francisco area, I’m in touch mostly with Mike Leraris ‘94 and Alex Millar ‘96. Mike and I are both in the Class of ‘94 and returned to campus for our 25th Reunion last May. It was great to reconnect with everyone, and I thought that the house and the improvements made since we were undergrads looked great.

After working in NYC for 12 years after graduation, I’ve now lived in the San Francisco area for the last 14 years. My wife Sue and I have 2 children (a son in 9th grade and a daughter in 7th grade). I’m presently Head of M&A for Canaccord Genuity.”

Mike Leraris ‘94

“I had a great experience at Sigma Chi and want to continue to support the house so others may have the same. By far, the best part of Sigma Chi at Penn was friendships I made, which became really clear when going back and seeing everyone at the 25th reunion.”

David Fleshman ‘61

“The most valuable part of Sigma Chi for me was the fellowship, friendship, and guidance of many of the brothers. Jon Huntsman, Sr. ‘59 was my big brother during pledging and became, along with his dear wife Karen, life-long friends. Jon was one of several mentors I have been fortunate to have in my life. There were others at Phi Phi who helped cement the qualities that I had learned from my parents and siblings such as Integrity, Honesty, Truthfulness, Generosity, and Diligence, and not to take oneself too seriously. I am most grateful to Murray McComas ‘58, Tom Hoshaw ‘61, Al Shoemaker ‘60, Jon Greenawalt ‘61, Charles Butt ‘59, Si Schultz, Ron Smith ‘59, and the late Ramsey Demir ‘60 and most certainly others.

I have been most fortunate in my career and retirement such that I have been able to give out a challenge to Phi Phi members and alumni whereby I will match up to a total of $50,000 in donations to the Huntsman Cancer Foundation. I am hopeful that when all is added up that HCF will receive a total of $100,000 from this effort.”

Sesto Vecchi ‘58

“I believe, like most other brothers, that Sigma Chi membership was a defining experience. Periodic reminders of it (e.g. The Quaker Sig) turn a light on and it’s easy to respond to the Chapter’s request for support. The most valuable part of Phi Phi Club for me was clearly the interaction with totally different folks and the growth and maturity that came with it. There are a lot of characters from my era I would love to see and to hear how life was lived. It would be much fun and probably sobering. I am mostly in touch with Murray McComas ‘58.

I’m practicing law in Vietnam, where I’ve lived for 35 +/- years. I have a robust flock of children and grandchildren, all of whom live in the US. My last trip to the house was about 2 years ago with my daughter and grandson. It was great to walk through the house, talk to the brothers who happened to be there, free up my memory, and be a student again.”

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