Class President and Grandmother to Lead Alma Mater

May 09, 2013

ALLIANCE, Ohio — As 2013 graduates prepare to say goodbye to the University of Mount Union this weekend, senior class president Josh Sleutz and his grandmother will lead them in one last song: the alma mater.

When the accounting, human resources management and management major of Kidron, OH, was asked to lead the alma mater at Mount Union’s 167th Commencement on Saturday, Sleutz agreed on one condition: his grandmother, Jean Slutz of Holmesville, OH would be on stage with him.

Sleutz recalls his grandmother and grandfather, the late Blair Slutz ’60, taking him to football games and many other events on campus over the years.

“Every time we came here grandma would sing the alma mater, so it was really familiar to me,” he said.

The tune has continued to be a familiar one for the family, and when Sleutz decided to follow in his grandfather’s footsteps and attend Mount Union, Jean immediately burst into song.

“When we sang the alma mater for freshman convocation, everyone else stumbled through it but I could sing it with no problem,” Sleutz recalled. “I always knew it and I attribute that to my grandma so I wanted her to be a part of me singing it for the last time as a student.”

The song – and Mount Union – are associated with many good memories for the Slutz family. Four years after graduating from high school, Blair decided to follow his dream and attend college at Mount Union. While he pursued a major in history and a minor in health and physical education, Jean worked in the Office of the Registrar. The couple lived on West State Street during the week and went home to Wayne County to work for his father in the feed business on the weekends.

After graduating, Blair became a teacher and coach in the Triway District in Wayne County and was a principal at West Holmes High School for 28 years. According to Jean, Blair’s love for Mount Union was so strong that it influenced his career in education in many ways. One such example occurred when the Triway District was building a new high school. The district was selecting school colors and Blair coerced his students to vote for purple. To this day, the district’s colors are purple and white.

Sleutz was the first grandchild to follow Blair’s legacy and was later joined by a cousin Kelly Slutz ’13 and sister, Jana ’15.

During his time at Mount Union, Sleutz made his mark on campus in a number of ways. He helped to form the Barbershop Quartet, was a member of the first men’s chorus on campus and was active with many musical activities. He is class president was a member of resident life staff for three years and a member of Student Senate, Society for Advancement of Management, Academic Policies committee, Academic Quality and Improvement Program, Bringing Executives and Students Together (BEST) and the College Judicial Board. For each of these highlights, his family, especially his grandmother, have been front and center, cheering him on.

“Everything we are a part of, grandma is always up here for, even when it’s just for little things,” Sleutz said. “My whole family went on the trip to Italy when the choir went on tour in 2011 and they often come up for cross country and track meets for Jana.”

After graduation, Sleutz will move to Canton, OH and work as a district manager for ALDI. He and his fiancé are planning a June 28 wedding. But no matter where life takes him, Sleutz will always remain a Purple Raider – and he’ll never forget the words to the alma mater.

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