Mount Union Legacy Spans Three Generations

April 27, 2010


In the midst of the turmoil of the early 1970s, four relatives ' Genny (Harlan '72) Phillips, Eric Shively '72, Susie (Oberholzer '73) Buckel and Becky (Oberholzer '75) Montgomery ' continued a family legacy as the second generation to attend Mount Union College. This year, they had the opportunity to celebrate the family's third generation of Mount Union graduates as Susie's daughter Lindsey Buckel and Genny's daughter Becky Sivula earned degrees during the 2006 Commencement ceremony.


First Row (L-R): Annie Montgomery '09, Sarah Buckel '10, Susie (Oberholzer '73) Buckel. Second Row (L-R): Joel Szymanski '07, Becky (Oberholzer '75) Montgomery, Dan Buckel '75, Lindsey Buckel '06. Third Row (L-R): Fred Oberholzer '49, Tim Buckel

The family's connection with Mount Union began in the 1930s when members of the Shively family, who lived on a small farm in Bayard on the outskirts of Minerva, attended Mount Union. This was just the beginning of a family legacy that includes husbands and wives, children, grandchildren, aunts, uncles and cousins.

The First Generation
The first in this long line of Mount Union graduates were brothers Fred Shively '36 and Jesse Shively '38. Three sisters ' Doris (Shively '40) Harlan, Janet (Shively '46) Susco and Genevieve (Shively '49) Oberholzer ' attended or graduated in the following decade. All three sisters were members of Alpha Chi Omega sorority, a tradition that would carry on through future generations. Two, Janet and Genevieve, married fellow Mount Union graduates ' Dante Susco '46 and Fred Oberholzer '49.

If there was one person whose family could rival the legacy of the Shively's at Mount Union, it was Fred Oberholzer. With a brother, sister-in-law and a sister ' Hal Oberholzer '50, Gretchen (Schreiner '53) Oberholzer and Gretchen (Oberholzer '59) Patterson respecitvely ' as alumni of the College, Fred's family also was deeply rooted in the Mount Union tradition.

'It makes me happy and proud to know that I began the Oberholzer tradition at Mount Union, said Fred. 'My late wife and I couldn't have been any happier with our life-long connection to and family legacy with the College.'

The Greek organization affiliations of the Oberholzers melded with those of the Shivelys, with Fred and Hal Oberholzer joining Dante Susco as members of Sigma Nu and Gretchen (Oberholzer) Patterson joining the sisterhood of Alpha Chi Omega with the three Shively sisters.

The Second Generation
Genny, the daughter of Doris Harlan, and Eric, son of Fred Shively, kicked off the second generation of Mount Union family members when they graduated in 1972. They were joined at Mount Union in the early 70s by cousins Susie and Becky, children of Genevieve and Fred Oberholzer.

'I was always proud of my cousins, who were very bright and popular,' said Eric. 'I remember it was a bit unsettling when Genny dated my roommate a couple of times. I was afraid he would tell her how sloppy I was, but then I took comfort in the fact that he was even worse.

'Susie and I both took some classes from Dr. Russell, one of our favorite English professors,' he added. 'I think having a close relative in the class made me work a little harder.'

Susie's and Becky's cousin on their father's side ' Hal Oberholzer II '75 ' was also a student at Mount Union in the 70s, as was his future wife, Dottie (Peterman '75). Susie's and Becky's brother, Charlie Oberholzer '80, completed this second generation when he earned his degree.

The Alpha Chi Omega connection continued throughout these years with Genny, Susie, Becky and Dottie all initiated as members. Their sorority affiliation allowed Genny and Susie to interact frequently on campus and maintain not only a family relationship, but a friendship.

'I was Susie's big sister in Alpha Chi,' said Genny. 'Often in sororities, little sisters will make paddles or pillows for their big sisters, but Susie wrote me a poem when I graduated. I still have that poem on my dresser.'

The Third Generation

Pictured Left to Right: Becky Sivula '06, Genny (Harlan '72) Phillips, Katie Sivula '04

The third generation of Shivelys to attend Mount Union began in 1995 when Betsy Shively '99 came to campus as a freshman. Betsy is the granddaughter of Fred Shively '38 and niece of Eric.

'I was proud this spring to attend a dinner in Columbus with my brother Fred and his daughter
Betsy,' said Eric. 'The occasion was her graduation from law school at The Ohio State University. My relatives and I all did well after attending Mount Union.'

Betsy was followed by second cousin Katie Sivula '04, daughter of Genny.

'Katie's dad was sure that she was going to choose to go to Ohio State,' said Genny. 'We had always driven by Mount Union and I had talked to her about my experience there. I never pushed her, but when she asked me to take her for a campus visit, I was thrilled. Her interview at Mount Union was the only college interview she went to before she came to the decision to attend the College.'

In 2002, Katie was not only joined by her sister Becky at Mount Union, but by her second cousin Lindsey as well.

'Of course my family encouraged me to look at Mount Union, but in the end it was my choice,' said Lindsey. 'Not only did both of my grandparents and many of their siblings attend Mount Union, but my mom and dad did as well. Four years later, I'm very happy with my decision.

'I felt at home at Mount Union because I knew so many people because of my family's history, Lindsey added. 'My family is still extremely involved in the Mount Union community and at times it was nice to know that I didn't have to go home to see them. They were usually on campus more than I was at home.'

The family's involvement goes above and beyond simply continuing their legacy. Susie serves as a member of Alumni Council and she, Genny and Becky are all involved as alumnae members of Alpha Chi Omega. Lindsey's dad, Dan Buckel '75, does public announcing of Mount Union football games and was president of the M Club for a number of years. Fred Oberholzer continues to be involved in Sigma Nu activities and is a staunch football fan, and Charlie Oberholzer is an avid athletic supporter. Other family members continue to return to campus for various events and special occasions.

'My family's continual involvement has shown me how rewarding it can be to support your alma mater ' both financially and in service,' said Lindsey. 'Our long history with Mount Union helped me to truly appreciate the history of the College. After years of hearing stories about various eras at Mount Union, I was better able to understand how the College came to be what it is today.'

Becky agrees.

'I had been visiting Mount Union since I was little,' said Becky. 'I knew my mom would be thrilled if I chose to go to Mount Union, but in the end it was my decision. I have known since I was a little girl that it was the only place for me. I didn't even apply anywhere else because Mount Union was the only place I wanted to go.'

Katie, Becky and Lindsey all continued their family's legacy with Alpha Chi Omega, as well as becoming the third generation of Shivelys and/or Oberholzers to earn education degrees from Mount Union.

'Katie was going to go to law school, but decided to go to Mount Union for an extra semester and get her teaching licensure,' said Genny. 'She is a born teacher. I have been in education for 34 years and it's neat to see them follow in my footsteps. It's also cool that they both joined Alpha Chi Omega because now they are not only my daughters, they are my sisters and we are all angels (Alpha Chi Omega's mascot).'

The first teachers in the family were Genevieve and Fred Oberholzer and Hal and Gretchen Oberholzer. They were followed in the second generation by Susie Buckel, Dan Buckel (a school administrator), Becky Phillips (a guidance counselor), and Hal II and Dottie Oberholzer. In the more recent history, Katie, Lindsey and Becky have all earned teacher licensure.

'Many members of my family are educators, but that didn't really influence my decision to pursue an early childhood education major,' said Lindsey. 'Education is a natural fit for me. I love children, but I was also drawn to the opportunities that the major offers. The professional development options are vast and I like the idea of being able to relocate anywhere in the United States.'

Lindsey is currently looking into teaching opportunities in North Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia. She is engaged to Joel Szymanski '07, who is a perfect fit for the family. He also is a member of Sigma Nu and is pursuing a degree in physical education.

Becky is planning to substitute teach in the Alliance area for the remainder of the school year while seeking a teaching position in northeast Ohio.

Although Lindsey's and Becky's years at Mount Union culminated with graduation on May 7, the third generation of Shively-Oberholzers is not yet complete. Annie Montgomery '09, daughter of Becky, will be a sophomore at Mount Union next year and Lindsey's sister Sarah Buckel '10 will begin her freshman year in the fall of 2006.

'Everybody goes through the phase of wanting to do something new and I wasn't sure that Sarah was going to choose Mount Union,' said Susie. 'In the end, she chose to follow the family tradition. It's great to be part of such a long family legacy, but I think it is the neatest for my dad (Fred Oberholzer) because he loves Mount Union more than anyone. He is a walking commercial for the College.'

'My experiences with Mount Union over the years have been nothing but positive,' said Fred. 'I have enjoyed participating in Mount Union activities ranging from attendance at every Stagg Bowl in which the Raiders have played to helping raise money from alumni. I have always been devoted and am proud of the strong academic reputation the College has. I feel a closeness to the school and, with recent changes, I have never felt better about the future of the 'Grand Old College.''

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