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The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

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The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

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SBCC community remembers star and student Benjamin Schurmer

Benjamin Scott Schurmer. Photo Courtesy of Cheri Fuentes Armstrong.

Benjamin Scott Schurmer, second-year theatre arts acting major at City College, Ojai native and beloved student, friend, brother, and son, died on Saturday, Sept. 2. He was 19 years old.

While information on the cause and manner of Schurmer’s death remain pending, Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer Raquel Zick shared that Schurmer had fallen from a cliff off of Del Playa Drive in Isla Vista.

Schurmer had earned one of the lead roles in City College’s production of “Emma” by Kate Hamill, adapted from the novel by Jane Austen. 

Alongside his commitment to “Emma,” Schurmer’s contributions to theater were evident throughout much of his life.

At City College, Schurmer took part in the one-act play, “Welcome to the Moon.” During his time in Ojai, where he attended Nordhoff High School, Schurmer acted in the production of “Legally Blonde The Musical” in 2020, and “The Music Man” in 2022, to name a few.

Katie Laris, chair of the theatre arts department at City College, witnessed the majority of Schurmer’s theater legacy at the college.

“He was a really confident guy in a great way,” Laris said. “Not arrogant in any way, but just quite self-possessed.”

According to a GoFundMe page organized by Cheri Fuentes Armstrong on behalf of his mother, Schurmer was born on Oct. 25, 2003, at the Community Memorial Hospital in Ventura, Calif.

From an early age, Schurmer developed a passion for the theater, as well as a liking towards golf, and competed for his high school team.

“He just had a gift for making people, everybody, feel really comfortable,” Laris said.

Schurmer worked at Ojai Rotie, a restaurant at the center of Ojai’s downtown area, for four years. In the past two years, Schurmer befriended his coworker, and later fellow classmate, Matt Addeman.

Addeman, 42, lived in Long Beach, California before moving to Ojai in 2019. While working at Ojai Rotie, Addeman got to know Schurmer after working alongside him during shifts.

“If I felt a little low, a little down on energy, if he walked in I would immediately light up and I would just start telling jokes,” Addeman said. “I’d find myself being a lot more funny and interesting than I normally am.”

When closing the restaurant at night, Schurmer would lay out plans for his singing and acting career to Addeman, expressing a great amount of ambition and hope for his life ahead.

Before the fall semester of 2022 at City College, Schurmer proposed to Addeman that he should take one of Laris’ acting classes with him. Addeman took Schumer’s suggestion, and has since been involved in the theatre arts program at City College.

“I want to perform and help other people have their experience…it’s all because of him, he got me on that path,” Addeman said.

Schurmer gained the admiration of Addeman as well as many of his other fellow classmates and friends at City College and throughout Ventura County. He has left an impact on the theater community at City College, and has inspired movements for increased safety on the bluffs of Isla Vista.

“Maybe someday I’d be lucky enough to be invited to his wedding…maybe his Oscar party or something, but instead, you know, a funeral is not what I would have wanted,” Addemann said.

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