The Editorially Independent Voice of The University of Akron

The Buchtelite

The Editorially Independent Voice of The University of Akron

The Buchtelite

The Editorially Independent Voice of The University of Akron

The Buchtelite

A birthday gift from Zippy

93-year-old Robert Greathouse graduates from UA.
Julie Cajigas
Robert Greathouse with his wife and some of his children and grandchildren after receiving his diploma.

Jane Rotsching composes an email to The University of Akron, a simple inquiry driving her fingers across the letters of her keyboard. Rotsching doesn’t know what to expect, but she is determined just as her father taught her to be. Her inquiry is a simple birthday request, and one perfect for him. To make it happen, she’ll need the help of several figures, starting with the university’s registrar.  

Rotsching wasn’t even sure if she would get a response to her inquiry, but after emails and calls were exchanged between various individuals at UA, a call finally came. 

Overcome with shock and excitement, Rotsching listened as the University stated that they were able to help her fulfill her request. Seemingly unreal at first, the realization sunk in. Her father would not only receive a birthday gift that he would never expect, but one that would reflect the determination and work ethic he taught his seven children as he worked and raised a family. 

All that is left to do: round up the family for her father’s graduation from the University of Akron. 

Story continues below advertisement

Robert Greathouse, 93, was born in Akron, Ohio, in June of 1930. He attended East High School where he nurtured a passion for mathematics and science, and he intended to study in the school’s physics and chemistry program. However, when Greathouse and his parents moved, and he lost the coveted program. Unfortunately, his new school wasn’t as advanced in its education, and taught basic subjects with little to no math or science classes.

Robert Greathouse listening to President Miller as he speaks about his achievements. (Julie Cajigas)

Feeling unprepared for university studies, Greathouse didn’t attend his own high school graduation and chose to work on his father’s farm instead. Two years later, in June of 1950, tensions rose between North and South Korea, requiring the involvement of the United States. Rather than wait to be drafted, Greathouse enlisted in order to choose the military branch he wanted to join. Combining his interests in math and science, Greathouse trained as an Air Force mechanic, a job that would take him all the way to Okinawa where he repaired aircraft carriers fighting for South Korea and the containment of communism.

After the Korean War, Greathouse found himself back in Akron, securing a job at the Goodyear Company in its first years as a budding start-up. Wanting to learn more about the science behind the tire company, Greathouse took classes at The University of Akron beginning in the fall of 1958. With seven children at home, Greathouse’s time was spread thin, so he took classes sporadically when he needed the knowledge and concluded his studies in 1993.  

Reflecting on their childhood, Greathouse’s children recall how much education meant to their father, and, more importantly, how he passed his appreciation for learning onto them. Four of his children earned their degrees from The University of Akron.  

“We just knew that we were expected to go to college,” Mary Batyko, Greathouse’s daughter, details.  “My mom was an RN, so she had some college experience, and with him going to school it just seemed natural.”  

Greathouse continues to inspire younger generations in their pursuit of a college education, especially his grandchildren. Reflecting on the impact his grandfather had on his college application process, Nick Rotsching said, “I remember when I was applying to college, myself, he did all kinds of research into the University of Akron, the College of Wooster, and some of the other schools that are around here. He helped me out so I could make that list myself and go see a bunch of them.” 

While his educational journey wasn’t easy, Greathouse said the most important part of learning is keeping one’s sights on a goal.  

“You have to keep your eyes on the goal. You have to establish a goal and determine how to get there, and that’s what you have to do,” Greathouse said.

Zippy congratulating Greathouse on his diploma as his wife looks on. (Olivia Kurylo)

With 35 years of post-secondary schooling under his belt, Greathouse received his hard earned associate degree of Technical Studies on Aug. 14, 2023. He was surrounded by immediate family and his new collegiate family in the College of Arts and Sciences Building Atrium. 

Rotsching was the picture of pride and happiness as she took in her father’s graduation.  

“After we broke the news to dad, we asked, ‘do you want to wear a cap and gown?’” she said.  

So how did Greathouse get his hands on the black cap and gown he joyfully sported? 

 “Luckily, we have plenty of them at our house from him to choose from,” Rotsching said. As Greathouse encouraged his children and grandchildren to attend college, it was only fitting he donned a gown worn by someone who fulfilled his vision for his family. To complete the regalia, Rotsching’s brother went out and purchased a tassel. 

During the graduation ceremony, Greathouse was beaming. After receiving his degree, he spoke on his college journey.  

“I deeply appreciate the University of Akron because it was here, I was able to get the tools I needed to get ahead, and that is what the whole thing was about. Thank you very much.” 

Congratulations Mr. Greathouse! The University of Akron proudly welcomes you to the Zips alumni family. 

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Buchtelite
Our Goal

Your donation will support the student journalists of The University of Akron. Your contribution will allow us to keep printing our magazine edition, purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
About the Contributor
Olivia Kurylo
Olivia Kurylo, Correspondent
Olivia Kurylo is a second-year student majoring in English. She plans to minor in Creative Writing and earn a certificate in Professional Social Media. Olivia hopes to pursue a career in the Publishing and Editing fields. In her spare time, Olivia enjoys reading, writing, and spending time with her family.  Fun fact: My favorite movie is Little Women (2019). 
Donate to The Buchtelite
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All comments that are well-informed, civil and relevant to the story are welcome. To leave a comment, please provide your name and email address. The Editorial Board reserves to right to remove any comment that is submitted under false pretenses or includes personal attacks, libel, hate speech, profanity, spam or inaccurate/misleading information. All comments are screened and are generally approved unless they are found to be found in violation of these standards. Readers who notice comments that appear to violate these standards are encouraged to contact the Online Editor at [email protected].
All The Buchtelite Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *