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Shepherd University's 2012 Outstanding Alumnus said it was love at first sight

Hagerstown man recalls his first visit to the campus more than 60 years ago

June 27, 2013|By JANET HEIM | janeth@herald-mail.com
  • Bob Wantz of Hagerstown was recognized as the Shepherd University 2012 Outstanding Alumnus.
By Joe Crocetta/Staff Photographer

When Bob Wantz toured Shepherd College in 1951 as a high school senior, his interest was only in getting a day off from school. Instead, the visit opened his eyes to a world of opportunities and a lifelong commitment to the university.

“I loved the school from the first day I was there,” Wantz said.

Everything clicked for that visit. Wantz remembers it was a beautiful sunny day and the school choir sang “The White Cliffs of Dover” in front of Reynolds Hall. The tour included 15- to 20-minute visits to different classes and ended with a Rams baseball game.

“I knew I wanted to go to college, but I didn’t know where. Sometimes it takes time to find yourself,” Wantz said.

The Hagerstown resident — the youngest of four sons — graduated with a Bachelor of Science in biology and a Bachelor of Arts in secondary education in 1955.

Wantz later earned a master’s degree in education from McDaniel College, formerly Western Maryland College.

 In February, Wantz was recognized as the Shepherd University 2012 Outstanding Alumnus.

“I was very surprised. It’s quite an honor,” Wantz said.

Not long after college graduation, Wantz was drafted into the U.S. Navy and served during the Korean War for two years. Then he got married and “the kids came along,” Wantz said.

In short, he said there wasn’t much time to do anything for the school.

“I got very active when I retired. It was payback time. The school did a lot for me,” Wantz said.

He and his wife, Cassandra “Sandy,” have been married since Nov. 1958.

Their two children are college graduates. Their grandson was to graduate from college this spring and their granddaughter is a college sophomore.

“In our home, it’s just the way it is,” Wantz said of going to college.

Retirement came in 1990, after a 35-year career in education in Washington County. His career ranged from classroom teacher to TV educator to administration.

He was vice principal at Williamsport Junior Senior High School and Williamsport Middle School, topped off with 16 years as principal at Clear Spring Middle School.

With time on his hands, Wantz joined the Shepherd Alumni Association and has served on just about every committee of the association. He also returns to campus for home football games, having only missed two or three games in the past decade, and an occasional men’s basketball game.

He and Dick Snively, who nominated him for the award, were in the same fraternity at Shepherd. They both have season tickets for football and attend the games together.

It was before a home basketball game on Feb. 9 that Wantz was honored for his commitment to the university. He was given an inscribed watch at the reception, along with a football autographed by the whole team.

“I was selected because of my work at the school, my education, my art,” Wantz said.

Art has been a big part of Wantz’s life, as well. Clyde Roberts was his high school art teacher.

After his stint in the Navy, Wantz took watercolor classes at the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts, where he has taught for more than 23 years and also at Hagerstown Community College for about 20 years.

“I haven’t stopped since,” said Wantz, who is a signature member of the Baltimore Watercolor Society.


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