Kristen Reymann, assistant director of leadership annual giving with the Ohio State Alumni Association, recently visited agricultural education alum John Feisley in honor of his 100th birthday. Feisley graduated in 1941 with a bachelor of science in agricultural education. Reymann shares about her visit with him below!
I recently had the pleasure of executing a special mission from the College of Food, Agriculture, and Environmental Sciences. Claire Badger and Kyle Sebastian reached out to me with a plan to deliver a very special 100th birthday present to a 1941 OSU agricultural education alumnus in eastern Ohio. Claire gave me the package, I made a phone call, and I was off to Saint Clairsville the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.
When I arrived at John Feisley’s house, I was greeted with a big smile and was immediately welcomed inside. I presented the gift and gave him kind words from the college as he opened his new goody bag. I don’t think the smile left John’s face the whole hour that I was there. He enjoyed the OSU hat and shirt, and intently read the pamphlet from CFAES as he opened up his birthday card from Dean Kress. I informed him the coin that he received from her is rarely handed out and he giggled as he held it in his hands. He also received a personally addressed video from the Chair of the Department of Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership (ACEL) which is where John’s major is housed. This department just celebrated their 100th birthday last year. What a happy coincidence!
John’s happy personality was contagious as we talked about Ohio State memories and shared stories about campus. I asked him what his favorite memory was from OSU and after a short pause he quickly said “well the football games of course”. He still remembers the first game he ever went to. His sister had bought him a ticket to the OSU vs. TCU game and even though the Buckeyes lost that day, he still enjoyed his time in The Shoe. “They beat us. But then we went down to the field and tore the poles down. You would think we only did that when we won!” John still watches every game to this day.
John grew up with two brothers and one sister in Clarington on the Ohio River where his father was a dairy farmer. His grandfather came to the United States from Switzerland when he was 12, and John remembers life back in the day when a horse and buggy was the main way of transportation. He recalls the change from this to gravel roads and cars during the winter, and laughs thinking about how muddy it used to be.
John received a scholarship while he was at Ohio State which covered the full $200/quarter tuition. He says “it was kind of a quiet university at that time” with about 19,000 students. He remembers Dr. Ralph Bender, who assisted in the practice teaching program in Westerville high schools, although he completed his in Grove City with Mr. Ruble. He enjoyed attending basketball games with his friends and dance classes in the old Ohio Union. He and his classmates all donated $1 to help build stone walls near the university’s entrance on 15th avenue. He still remembers the library, University Hall, and Townsend, and just recently visited last summer.
I asked John about his wife Marian, who passed away 4 years ago. He told me they met at a movie theatre and even though she went to the University of Cincinnati, they were still Buckeyes. He chuckled as he told me about the times when they would go back and visit UC. “She couldn’t find anything and she was always disoriented”, he laughed.
John told me his daughter Anne, also an OSU alum (‘97), was coming from Columbus to spend time with him on Thanksgiving. He shared a few stories about his children and his Christmas Tree business before I packed up my things to head back to Columbus. We took some pictures together, said our goodbyes, and I left with a full heart and another great Buckeye memory. Happy 100th birthday John!
Happy Birthday John! We are so proud to have you as a member of our alumni family!