Karl Achenbach, Jr ’57: “True brothers and lifelong friends”

Karl Achenbach Jr ’57 remembers many funny stories from his time in the Sigma Phi Epsilon house, including ones that can’t be repeated.

One story that Karl remembers fondly is “the day we forgot to tell Marshell we had a Rabbi coming for dinner and he had pork for dinner. He served us hot dogs for weeks.” 

Karl said that people like Marshell the house chef and Baker the house man were Sigma Phi Epsilon icons at the time, along with “Regani for singing” and “Dan for drinking.”  

Other things that he noted the house was known for included ping pong, pool, the “window peeping dental house next door,” and, of course, “great food, good academics, and great brotherhood.” 

The list of Karl’s friends from his SigEp days is extensive—Ed Lesser ‘55, John Stadtmueller ‘57, Fred Smith ’57, Clarke Glennon ‘55, Ron Sloat ‘57, Bob Davidson, Ken Lorenz ‘56, Bob Johnson ‘55, Bob Ragaina, Vince Rettew ‘55, and George Kilpatrick, to name a few. 

Karl said John Stadtmueller and Fred Smith have had his back throughout his life. According to Karl, they are “true brothers and lifelong friends.”  

His brothers have been there through it all—through new jobs, weddings, visits, and children, Karl’s Sigma Phi Epsilon friendships have endured. Whether they are sharing successes over email, or sharing sadness, the brotherhood never ends.  

“It’s FRATERNITY!” he said. 

It is precisely this spirit of “true fraternity” that Karl says is a Sigma Phi Epsilon tradition, and one he hopes never goes away. 

After graduating from Penn in 1957, Karl had a 31-year long career with Bell System in finance, before eventually retiring on pension and becoming active in local politics for the next 20 years.  

Karl and his wife, Marilyn, were both in nursing school together in Philly before getting married, but they met long before then. “We started in the play pen at three months old,” he said.  

He has now been married to Marilyn for 66 years, and together they have three children as well as five grandchildren.