Essay – A future OWU grad, before starting class

This story begins in 1958, at Christ’s First Presbyterian Church in Hempstead, Long Island, N.Y.

George W. Gebhardt, then age 16, met with a female who was a year or two older than him. She had attended George’s church. She was attending OWU.

Even back in early high school, George knew he wanted to go to college. His mother said, “Go to Hofstra University, it’s close.” She also suggested George attend one of the upstate colleges. (George had a N.Y. State Regents Scholarship.)

But George wanted to go to a college at least one airplane ride away from Long Island — and preferably two. George’s thought was, “Any college I can get to by bicycle is too close. I want to explore other options.”

George’s friend said, “I’m happy at Ohio Wesleyan. You should apply. And they will give you money —s o it won’t cost that much.” At the time, George had no clue what any college would cost.

George applied to Ohio Wesleyan.

Then an amazing thing happened. George’s mother got a call from an OWU student. OWU students wanted to come to George’s house and make a pitch for OWU. Wow. What an ego thing. George had never been recruited for anything. Anyway, the three of them (one girl plus two boys) showed up (all bright and shiny) and told George and his parents about OWU.

George was smitten.

At the time, George knew nothing about colleges making financial awards to potential students — especially those with good high school academic records. George finished Hempstead High School at bottom of top 10 percent of his class, finishing about 52 out of 438 graduates.

So George would head to OWU, but not before George’s father (German immigrant who came to America in 1924 during German hyperinflation after World War I) took George to Idlewild (now JFK) Airport.

George’s father said, “I don’t understand this whole college thing.”

George replied, “Neither do I, Pop, but I think over the years it will be important.”

Pop said, “Son, I am very proud of you.” They both shed a tear.

During holidays and vacations, George would return to Long Island to drive his father’s 10-wheel dump truck.

George flew from Idlewild to National Airport in DC. It was dusk, and the Capitol was all lit up. It was magic. The next flight, on a DC-6, to Port Columbus, ended in the dark.

George took the airport shuttle to Broad and High streets. He asked for a bus to Delaware. George did not know if Delaware was north, south, east, or west of Columbus. A local said, “Delaware is north, but the buses have stopped for today.”

George hitchhiked to Delaware. There was music from a dance at Edwards Gymnasium, and on a loudspeaker, George heard the play-by-play of the Ohio Wesleyan vs. Valparasio University football game.

Ron Stead, Dean of Students met George. Dean Stead took George to the L&K restaurant, for some real food, and George’s dorm room in Selby Stadium-East. George would not see the campus until the next day.

Welcome to OWU, September 1959.

In 1965, George graduated from the Amos Tuck Graduate School of Business at Dartmouth College. For 51 years, he has lived in Baltimore County. He is married to Joan Marie Schaer, Ohio State 1962 and Johns Hopkins 1985.

By George Gebhardt ’63

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