The Ultimate Penn State Grandparents

We asked for your cutest and most-spirited Penn State grandparents, and you certainly delivered, from tailgating kings and queens to the grandma who decked out her walking cane in blue and white.

Without further ado, here are our favorite Happy Valley senior citizens:

Beverly and Bill Klucher

Nominated by: Katie McNeil, Class of 2018

Affiliation to Penn State: They’re townies! My grandparents have lived in State College for over 40 years. Beverly is a Penn State grad and Bill volunteers the concession stands at Beaver Stadium for Penn State football games.
Their story: My grandparents have lived in State College my entire life, so they raised me to bleed blue and white. Even though I grew up in Pittsburgh, State College has always been my home away from home. They invited me over to their house every Wednesday evening all four years of college. I wouldn’t have been able to get through college without them.

Ruth Blumenthal

Nominated by: Justin Campbell, Class of 2013

Affiliation to Penn State: My grandmother has enjoyed Penn State football for over 40 years. My grandfather and grandmother had season tickets from the late 1960’s until my final year of school in 2013 (the drive from York became too much for them as they have aged).

Her story: My grandmother is beloved at the tailgates for her passion. It was always a treat for my classmates to enjoy our tailgate and my grandmother was always the STAR. Whether it was her feisty attitude towards the opposing team or her famous burgers in sauce, my grandmother always brought the energy on game day. She takes a large amount of pride in the school and always proved that on Saturdays in the tailgate fields. Although she no longer has season tickets, she watches every game….in her Penn State room of course, decorated with all things Penn State accumulated over the years as PSU’s biggest fan.

Tom and June Hutchison

Nominated by: Tyler Hutchison, Class of 2019

Their story: My grandpa graduated from Penn State in 1952. Once he married my grandmother, she fell in love with Penn State as well. My family has a very deep connection to Penn State all the way back to my great grandpa. Since then, all of my aunts and uncles have attended Penn State, as well as he majority of my cousins. Years ago, my grandma started making one of a kind Penn State sweaters for only our family members to wear to the games. Many people have tried to get her to make them one, but she will only do it if you are in the family. My grandparents have had season tickets since 1991, and we were all raised at Penn State football games.

Karl Fink

Nominated by: Michael Fink, Class of 2018

His story: Karl Fink Graduated from Penn State in 1963, he was a brother of Phi Gamma Delta (FIJI), a fraternity. Back when football players were allowed to be in fraternities, many of his brothers were football players due to the fraternities close proximity to Rec Hall and the old practice fields. Joe Paterno, an assistant coach at the time, would regularly walk down to the Phi Gam house and eat lunch with the players and brothers of the house, starting a friendship between Joe Pa and Karl that withstood the test of time. Karl and fellow fraternity brothers created a rock and roll band called “The Dappers” and would play at Penn State and other college fraternities up and down the northeastern part of the US. Karl met his beloved wife Diane, a sister of the Delta Gamma sorority, and married her shortly after graduating. Karl and Diane are still happily married and living in Naples, Florida.

Family is one of the most important things to them and so they created an Endowment with the Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS) department of Penn State with the hopes that others can truly experience the gift of a supportive family. Currently Karl and Diane are traveling across the US in their RV visiting their grandkids and children. Most recently they, took four weeks out of their schedule to stay in State College and hang out with their youngest grandchild (me) and the FIJI brothers, throwing awesome tailgates and teaching the PSU students valuable life lessons, like how to make the best Queso in the world and how to live long and happy lives by being a blessing to others. Both of my grandparents are the ultimate Penn State Grandparents – they are major contributors to PSU athletics and major lovers of stickies and Berkey Ice Cream. They are the most supportive, generous, and accepting individuals and Penn State is blessed to be able to call them Alumni because they represent everything good about this university and live their lives to the absolute fullest!

Suzann and Vin Tedesco

Nominated by: Rachel Tedesco, Class of 2014
Their story: My grandparents met and married at Penn State. My grandfather was the goalie on the PSU men’s lacrosse team, a member of Delta Upsilon, and in Army ROTC. They ultimately married at Eisenhower Chapel their senior year. My grandpa went on to spend 30+ years in the Army and retired as a Colonel with a Silver Star for his heroism in the Vietnam War. My grandmother spent her career in early childhood education and development. After moving every few years for most of their post-grad lives, they retired to Lock Haven, where they lived until about 10 years ago when they moved to State College.

They now live on Ridge Ave, which is (literally) across the street from the Nittany Lion Inn. They tell me that the Paterno kids used to take piano lessons in the house. They also have a PSU bedroom, which is adorned with artifacts from their many years of fanhood. My grandparents had three children — V.J. Tedesco, Matt Tedesco and Kim Tedesco. All are PSU graduates. My dad, V.J., and uncle, Matt, are also Army Colonels who served tours during the Iraq/Afghanistan wars. My mom is also a PSU alum and Army veteran. I, obviously, also went to Penn State and graduated in 2014.

Kent and Mary Addis

Nominated by: Laura Forsyth, Class of 2020

Their story: As an active member of the Centre County community and former Mayor of Bellefonte, my Grandpa (Poppop) is the biggest Penn State fan I know. You will catch him watching every sporting event from women’s volleyball to wrestling, and, of course, football. He worked as part of the first aid team in Beaver Stadium starting in the 1960s and worked his way up to working in the press box! Kent and my grandmother, Mary, have been season ticket holders for over 20 years. In July of this year, Poppop unfortunately had to have major back surgery and he told his doctor that he needed to be recovered by September 2nd to watch Penn State’s home opener against Akron. He accomplished this and was there in full spirit. My grandparents have attended bowl games all over the country and even supported the Nittany Lions in Ireland. All three of Kent and Mary’s children are Penn Staters as well as two of their grandchildren.

Paul and Noreen Waller

Nominated by:  Alexis Thompson, Class of 2018
Their story: My Grandpop in particular used to take trips out to Penn State with my Uncle and they would find different routes to take to get to the tailgating lots! Every year my family tailgates in the same lot that my Grandpop did 20 years ago. Because of my Grandpop and Uncle, we now know tons of ways to get to our special tailgating lot. Over the years we have rented RVs and it has become tradition for my entire family to attend one game a year together. Everyday my Grandpop texts me the same thing, “Good Morning Lex have a good day, WE ARE!”. When I got my acceptance letter to Penn State it was late at night so only my parents and grandparents knew, by 9am the next morning I had text from everyone in my family congratulating me on my acceptance. My Grandpop could not bear to hold the news! Everyone tells me that out of everyone in my family, he is the most proud and excited about me attending Penn State.

Louis Spizzirro

Nominated by: Vallon Barnes, Class of 2020
His story:  Gramps has always been into sports whether it was being the best on all of his sports teams, or just watching it on TV or going to games, he is totally invested. All of the rest of his grandchildren haven’t gone to colleges where sports are really their “thing”, so he counted on his youngest (me) to pick a school filled with sports. Once he found out I was attending Penn State, he was completely overjoyed and began watching all things Penn State.
Even when he is not in the stands at live football games, he gets up and dances for every touchdown scored (which is A LOT of dancing), and easily my favorite thing to watch. However, when Gramps found out I was coming to Penn State, the thing he was most excited about was his Annual College Golf Tournament. Every year, the golf club hosts a college golf tournament where everyone dresses up in college attire and plays a round of golf. He was so excited he could finally wear a B1G college to represent and found ball markers from McLanahans which he bought a bunch of and now hands out to all of his friends as “bragging rights”. The picture attached is Gramps in his college tournament attire head-to-toe Penn State in which he ended up placing first in the entire tournament. When receiving his award he yelled “WE ARE!”.

Walter Sowa

Nominated by: Katie Bartuska, Class of 2019

His story:  My grandfather, a member of class of 1950, was the only one of his nine siblings to attend college. This was largely made possible because of the G.I Bill, and without the war and the bill, he might have ended up a coal miner like his father and two of his brothers. However, upon his attendance, my grandfather’s love of Penn State – especially Penn State football – was born.

He often tells a story about when he was pledge master at Theta Xi. The pledge class allegedly kidnapped him for the weekend and removed the utensils and faucets from the fraternity house. They then took my grandfather to a cabin in the woods and forced him to cook for them. Since the only thing he knew how to make was potato pancakes, he claims the pledges had it worse than the fraternity brothers who spent the weekend without cooking utensils.

My grandfather would eventually go on to teach Electrical Engineering at Penn State Wilkes-Barre, and also to becomea dedicated football season ticket holder. Him and my grandmother even attended football games on their honeymoon and with all of their children and grandchildren to celebrate their 50th anniversary. My grandmother would tag along, but would always take a book to read. To this day, both my grandmother and grandfather still joke that she would only look up to see what JoePa was wearing.

Currently, my grandfather is 92 years old, while him and my grandmother prefer to watch the game from the comfort of their home, they still make sure to look for their grandchildren in the student section!

Joe and Delores DeLaurentis

Nominated by: Sophia Burghardt, Class of 2019

Their story: My grandparents didn’t go to Penn State. My Poppop only went to school up to 8th grade, and my Nana only got up through high school. However, with my brother and I (half of their grandchildren) attending PSU, my Nana and Poppop got SUPER into Penn State. They especially love Saquon because he comes from Whitehall, the town right next to where they lived for 50 years. For every game, they put on their 26 jerseys, get out their pom poms, and cheer on the whole team. Every weekend, my Nana and Poppop will FaceTime me and check up as well as talk about their favorite parts of the game (mainly just them raving about Saquon and asking me why I’m not dating him lol). My Nana sends me newspaper clippings of articles about Penn State, and my Poppop went to his first PSU football game (vs. Army in 2015) which was extra special because he served in the army. Even though they didn’t go to Penn State, they love it just as if they were alumni.

Helen and Donald Golder

Nominated by: The Golder Family

Their story: Donald attended Penn State University from 1968-1972, getting his Masters (’70) in Meteorology (ever hear of AccuWeather?) and his working towards his Doctorate in 72’. During his time at Penn State, he & his wife Helen had 5 sons: Brian, Jim, Chuck, Donny, & Keith. Even though he attended Florida State for his undergrad (we won’t hold that against you), Donald has always been passionate about the Nittany Lions. From the Rip Engle era to leapin’ Saquon Barkley, Saturdays in the fall, regardless of kickoff time, take priority for Donald. (Over the years, Helen has learned to not get her hair done on a Saturday because Don will never notice…)

As for all of us, we were born into it; but luckily, Helen married into it. She became passionate about Penn State while raising her kids in Graduate Circle and supporting her husband during his time at school. Even when she would have to take care of her babies while he studied, student taught, went out for happy hour, or attended football games in Beaver Stadium (the good ole days when student tickets cost $10 for the season), she wouldn’t trade those days for anything. It was all worth it to her. Waupelani Drive will forever hold many memories of the good days, tough days, and the best days but most importantly the days where their roots grew deep in Happy Valley. Their love of Penn State quickly spread to their sons, daughter in laws, grandchildren, and even their friends, especially Nick Massaro.

For the past 50 years, many aspects of Penn State have molded them into the amazing grandparents they are today: THON, tailgates, beer money, late night phone calls, helping with Meteorology homework, the GOAT’s chair for game day, long time friendships, graduations and many bowls of Creamery ice cream, to name a few.

The journey continues for Helen and Donald as they celebrate 51 years of marriage, countless cases of Coors Light, and two more grandchildren who have applied to Penn State University. Whether they are traveling the world in their Penn State gear, relaxing on LBI telling us that God is a Penn Stater because the sky is blue and white, or figuring out how to operate their computer in their Penn State themed office, Helen and Donald share love and passion in every single thing they do. We Are lucky enough to experience this every day and We Are grateful that they are our Penn State Grandparents!

Joseph and Margaret McCallus

Nominated by: Grace McCallus, Class of 2017

Their story: Joseph McCallus attended Penn State University after serving time in the Navy in the 60s. He and his wife, Margaret, lived in a tiny apartment in Lemont while he studied at Penn State. During college, Joe worked as a delivery boy for Home D. He traveled around town with a refrigerator full of pizza in his truck, often accompanied by football players that hitched rides from him. After graduation, he went on to become the Manager of the HUB-Robeson Center. While he worked there, Marge took a job in Old Main. After some time, Joe and Marge moved back to their hometown in Hazleton, PA. Here, Joe stayed affiliated with Penn State and became the Dean of Student Affairs at Penn State Hazleton. His four sons all attended Penn State, and his two granddaughters (Grace – Penn State Class of ’17 and Lilly – Penn State Altoona – Freshman) went on to follow in the family’s footsteps.

Richard Gackenbach

Nominated by:  Abby Spor, Class of 2020

His story: My grandpa graduated from Penn State in 1966 and has ever since made Penn State not only an alma mater, but also a lifestyle. In 2001, my grandpa fulfilled his lifelong dream and bought season tickets, and he has hardly missed a game since. Not only does he make the 3 and a half hour trip up to Penn State for most weekends in the fall at the age of 74, he also has been to every stadium in the big 10 except for Nebraska and Iowa. He attends multiple different Penn State games including plenty of bowl games, like the Rose Bowl, and made the trip to Ireland a few years ago during the bowl ban.

My grandpa truly lives and breathes Penn State and has raised his children and grandchildren to do the same. I am so lucky to have not just a great grandparent, but also an amazing Penn State fan who has also made me passionate about Penn State. My sister and I would not be here without him and definitely would not have as much Penn State apparel! Thanks Grandpa!

Blanche Rodgers

Nominated by: Monica Corsetti

Her story: This is our 90-year-old grandmother, “G.” She became a Penn State fan in 2010 when Monica (that’s me) started at PSU. She rarely misses a game on TV and is always sure to wear her blue and white! While the three of us attended school, she even made the trip up to State College to visit a few times. When I graduated, she channeled her inner student and rode the Blue Loop to my graduation. During one visit, she got the full Penn State experience by staying in the dorms (McKee Hall, to be precise) with Mimi. She even ordered insomnia cookies. Just because G is 90, don’t think for a second that she’s a pushover. She’s had to defend Dear Old State on her very own street: when her neighbor put up a Pitt flag, she retaliated with am even bigger Penn State one on her garage.

Seen in the photos is her Penn State walker, complete with horn, student section streamers, basketball hoop, and beer koozie. “G” bleeds blue and white.

Warren Haffner

Nominated by: Joseph Haffner, Class of 2021

His story: A native of Clarks Summit, PA – Poppy enrolled at Penn State in 1950 and graduated in 1954.

He was on the Freshman basketball team (which they no longer have), involved in Intramural Boxing, and a member of Delta Upsilon fraternity. He met his future wife – Betty Smucker (also Class of ‘54) – while in line at registration. A girl from his high school introduced them. Betty was a member of Kappa Alpha Theta sorority and served as a local advisor to the sorority after graduation. They married the last semester of his senior year by eloping to Winchester, VA.

After graduation, he served 2 years with the Air Force and a year with IBM (in Detroit), then, in 1957 returned to Penn State as an assistant to the Registrar.  He held various positions in the department, becoming Assistant Director of Admissions-Registration and Scheduling, then becoming Director of the same department. He retired as Registrar in 1990.

After retirement, he and Betty remained in State College, and in his 60 + years affiliated with the University, has missed less than a handful of home football games and tries to attend as many events at the University as time allows. He golfs nearly daily at the White Course (when weather permits).

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About the Author

Carolyn Popescu

Current senior studying Advertising and Visual Arts, Carolyn has a passion for entertainment and music. She also loves photography, film, graphic design, social media, and all things in between. She's the current Sony Music Marketing Representative for State College, so be sure to reach out to her with any local music scene questions, ideas, proposals, or if you just need someone to geek out about music with.

(Contact her through [email protected] or [email protected])

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