By DEBORAH A. MILES
Kathy D’Arminio, a PEF leader who touched the lives of hundreds of people, passed away unexpectedly in her sleep on March 8 while in Myrtle Beach.
As a registered nurse, D’Arminio had a passion for helping people, and that was also evident in her many roles within PEF. When she took over the helm of Division 399, her mission as the council leader was to pull the division together and re-energize the members, which she accomplished.
D’Arminio was an Executive Board member, chair of the Women’s Committee, the Region 5 Political Action Committee, and of PEF’s statewide Health and Safety Committee from 2006 to 2012.
Her efforts were recognized across the state as an activist who dedicated herself to educating and informing members while providing resources and support. She was the recipient of the Cornell ILR Labor Programs Jessica Govea Thorbourne Award, and of the 2013 NYS/PEF Health and Safety Outstanding Service Award.
Stephanie McLean-Beathley, a council leader in the Buffalo area, said, “Kathy gave me encouragement and helped me with my mission to save the Western New York Children’s Psychiatric Center. She was a gifted mentor, friend and union sister.”
PEF Region 9 Coordinator Vivian Street said, “Kathy was a great advocate for PEF members. She worked very hard serving all members and her presence will be sorely missed.”
D’Arminio earned a reputation as an agent for change, but also as a person who was intelligent, capable and caring. She always wore a ready smile and had an infectious laugh.
“My favorite thing about Kathy was her ability to laugh even in the most trying situations. She never lost her cool, and always tried to help people as much as she could,” said former PEF President Ken Brynien
D’Arminio organized and was involved in several Region 5 charitable activities, worked tirelessly with the Democratic party to help get PEF-endorsed candidates elected, and presided over three statewide health and safety conferences with an average of 400 members in attendance.
“She was able to negotiate with anyone. Kathy was not afraid to ask for the moon and stars, and usually got them,” said Geraldine Stella, PEF occupational health and safety specialist.
“Kathy never let bureaucracy wear her down, and always insisted on open and honest discussions,” added Jonathan Rosen, former PEF director of occupational health and safety.
Rosen said D’Arminio played an integral part in supporting PEF’s initiatives on safe patient handling, violence prevention, and indoor air quality. She also was an active member of the Zero Lift Task Force.
“Kathy’s true character is reflected in her rushing to the scene of the mass shooting in Binghamton, her home town, on April 3, 2009. A gunman had killed 13 people and critically wounded four others before killing himself,” Rosen said. “Thousands of PEF members and state workers were located in adjacent buildings.
“Kathy’s contribution to the well being of the PEF membership will live on forever.”
D’Arminio is survived by her father, husband Angelo, siblings, children and nine grandchildren.