Larry Wisniewski ’78 just finished talking to lifelong friends Keith Coleman ’77 and Don Farley ’77 about the fact that he never received a physical copy of his Marietta College degree when Alumni Relations Director Dawn Werry approached the group.
The Cleveland Area Regional Association had a gathering at an Akron Rubber Ducks — a Class AA minor league team affiliated with the Cleveland Indians — during the summer, and alumni and family attending the event sat in a cluster of picnic tables out in left field of Canal Park.
“(Dawn) basically stood up, walked over to us and began making this announcement,” Larry says. At that point, Dawn presented Larry his official Marietta College degree, signed by President William N. Ruud. “My wife (Patty) was there — she was in on this secret the whole time! My buddy, Keith, orchestrated this because he knew it would mean something to me.”
When Larry left Marietta the first time, it was to take care of family.
“I had to transfer during my sophomore year to Cleveland State because my dad got sick,” he says. “My father passed away during the course of that year, and one day, my mom said, ‘You need to go back to Marietta. You love that place.’ And so that’s what I did.”
The plan was to graduate with his original class, but he needed one more course to complete the degree requirements. He had to return for the following fall semester.
“So, I completed the degree in December, but at that time Marietta didn’t have a December ceremony, so I thought I’d just walk in the spring.”
Once again, sometimes life gets in the way of plans. Larry had met his future wife, Patty, and the couple were set to be married on May 6th — 5/6/78. Years passed — getting careers off the ground, kids, grandkids — but eventually, the fact that he only had a small laminated card showing he graduated from Marietta left a wide-open space on his home office desk.
“We were out one day and out of the blue he tells me about never receiving his diploma and he said, ‘It’s one of my deepest regrets in life.’ I’ve known him all these years and he never once mentioned this. I knew I had to at least try to make this happen,” Coleman says.
After the College confirmed Wisniewski had completed his degree requirements, the Advancement Office began planning with Coleman the perfect time to present Wisniewski’s degree.
“Back in ’78, I was just ready to start my life as an adult; I was ready to move on with things,” he says. “But I found myself talking about it more and more these past few years. Finally receiving it means a lot to me at this point in my life.”