The Fraternity is saddened to announce the recent passings of four Beta brothers: Ron Helman, Miami ’55; Jamey Rootes, Clemson ’88; Richard Symms, Idaho ’20; and Jack Murphy, Colorado ’22.
Ronald P. “Ron” Helman, Miami ’55
Brother Ronald P. “Ron” Helman, Miami ’55, was never shy to rally brothers and friends to support a cause. As Beta Theta Pi’s third administrative secretary, the Beta Leadership Fund was launched under his guidance, which continues to support the Fraternity’s award-winning leadership programs and the Men of Principle initiative to this day.
Ron passed away peacefully on Wednesday, July 27, at age 89.
After seven years as administrative secretary — having followed in the footsteps of two Alpha Chapter brothers: Ralph Fey ’40, and Fred Brower ’50 — Ron continued to guide the Fraternity forward, serving a term as vice president on the Board of Trustees and later a member of the Foundation’s Board of Directors. He supported his beloved Alpha Chapter as well, establishing the chapter’s Badge Award, given to the senior with the top GPA, and received a silver bowl from the chapter in 1972 as a token of their appreciation for his assistance.
For his commitment to the Great and Good Fraternity, Brother Ron received Beta’s 22nd Francis Wayland Shepardson Award at the 175th General Convention in Oxford, Ohio.
His dedication to Beta ran in the family as well. His son Randy, Central Michigan ’84, was a founding father and chapter president, and Roger, Michigan ’89, also served as chapter president. His grandson, Alex, Michigan State ’17, was a refounding father of the Gamma Psi Chapter.
Outside of the Fraternity, he was devoted to his alma mater with years on the alumni association board, including president, and chairing five class reunions. Following his work with Beta, he served as executive director of the Michigan Tech Fund at Michigan Technological University, and later promoted to vice president of advancement. In his retirement, he continued to support the community, coaching three campaigns totaling $1.3 million. In 2013, Ron was given Miami’s Bishop Medal for distinguished service to humanity.
May Brother Ron Hellman, Roll No. 1013 on the official roll of the Alpha Chapter of Beta Theta Pi, No. 1000 of Gamma Psi at Michigan State and No. 200 of Epsilon Gamma at Central Michigan, rest in peace. Forever in ___kai___.
James “Jamey” Rootes, Clemson ’88
The leadership of James “Jamey” Rootes, Clemson ’88, has been unmatched, and Major League Soccer and the National Football League would not be the same without his expertise. President of the Texans, his impact on the greater Houston community has been immeasurable.
Jamey died by suicide on Sunday, August 21, at age 56.
In addition to being an active brother in the Delta Nu Chapter, Jamey served campus as the student body president. He was also a stellar soccer player and three-year starter at midfield for Clemson, coming off the bench in the program’s first national championship victory in 1984 and claiming the national title again in 1987, this time on home ground in the Tigers’ historic underdog run.
Brother Rootes continued his passion of sports in his professional career, and is known for his dedication when building teams from the ground up. In 1996, he became the president and general manager of the Columbus Crew, one of the 10 original teams in MLS, which launched that same year. In 1996 and 1999, he was named MLS Executive of the Year. Brother Rootes successfully transitioned his passion to the NFL as well, having been recruited to build the new Houston Texans franchise in 2000. In his 20-year tenure in the NFL, he received numerous distinctions for marketing excellence.
As loyal as the fans were for the Texans, Brother Rootes became a loyal member of the greater Houston community. Upon retiring from the NFL in 2021, he followed with a brief stint as CEO of the Houston Dynamo and Houston Dash soccer teams. With his love of soccer, he helped pave the way for Houston to be one of 16 cities in the U.S, Canada and Mexico selected as a host site for the 2026 FIFA World Cup. Jamey also looked for the next generation of leaders in the sports industry, mentoring and teaching at Sam Houston State, University of Houston and Rice. He led relief efforts on behalf of the Texans and United Way following Hurricane Harvey in 2017 and through the COVID-19 pandemic.
May Brother Jamey Rootes, Roll No. 364 on the official roll of the Delta Nu Chapter of Beta Theta Pi, rest in peace. Forever in ___kai___.
Richard Symms, Idaho ’20
On July 15, Beta tragically lost one of its own, Richard Symms, Idaho ’20, at the age of 24. Brother Symms’ passing should remind us all of the mental health struggles so many of our band continue to endure.
It is important for us to be our brother’s keeper, to deepen the conversations on mental health in order to decrease stigma and protect the futures of Betas like him who have the world at their fingertips. This week especially, the Fraternity holds the Idaho chapter close to our hearts, having similarly lost Richard’s little brother in the Fraternity, Max Fulfer ’21, in 2019.
May Brother Richard Allen Symms II, Roll No. 1996 on the official roll of the Gamma Gamma Chapter, rest in peace. Forever in ___kai___.
Jack Murphy, Colorado ’22
It is with deep regret the Fraternity announces the passing of Brother Jack Murphy, Colorado ’22. While taking part in the National Outdoor Leadership School in Wyoming, he passed away from cardiac arrest as a result of a lightning strike on August 2.
Brother Jack was a proud founding father who recently helped reestablish the Fraternity’s historic Beta Tau Chapter in Boulder. He was a leader within the growing chapter, serving as the vice president of recruitment and then of brotherhood. Jack was often described as a compassionate and generous young man.
Regional Chief Bryant Fiesta, UC Irvine ’16, represented the Fraternity at Jack’s funeral in Boston on August 10. Known for his strong passion for the outdoors, the family welcomes trees planted in Brother Jack’s honor. In lieu of flowers, gifts can be made to the Jack Murphy Wilderness Fund (firstname.lastname@example.org) — a trust that will support others who have a passion to live, teach and serve in the great outdoors.
The strength of Beta’s brotherhood is with his family and the Colorado chapter during this difficult time. May Brother Jack Murphy, Roll No. 1554 on the official roll of the Beta Tau Chapter of Beta Theta Pi, rest in peace. Forever in ___kai___.