The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

March 15, 2013

Statues at Bucknell


Daily Item

---- — The Daily Item indicated that the Susquehanna Valley only has four statues of notable historical figures. While there are a few others on campus, we'd like to add five more to the list as they honor individuals important not only to Bucknell but to our community:

The entry to Bucknell's Kenneth G. Langone Athletics and Recreation Center features busts of our two alumni Congressional Medal of Honor winners, Dwite H. Schaffner and George H. Ramer.

Dwite Schaffner, who was born in Arroyo, was a member of the Bucknell class of 1916. In September 1918, near St. Hubert's Pavilion in Boureuilles, France, First Lieutenant Schaffner led his infantry unit against overwhelming enemy fire and took extreme measures of selfless courage to help conquer one of the most strongly fortified positions on the entire Meuse-Argonne front.

George Ramer, a native of Meyersdale, graduate of Lewisburg High School, WWII Navy veteran and 1950 graduate of Bucknell, was a Marine Corps Reserve officer who asked to be called to active duty in the Korean War. In early September 1951, at Heartbreak Ridge, Korea, Second Lieutenant Ramer led an assault on an enemy stronghold and, despite vicious mortar and small-arms fire, personally destroyed the enemy bunker. During the enemy's counterattack, he fought single-handedly to cover his men's withdrawal. He was mortally wounded. He was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, Purple Heart, Korean Service Medal and United Nations Service Medal.

In Bucknell Hall, which is home to the Stadler Center for Poetry, stands the bust of William Bucknell. Born near Marcus Hook, he fashioned a thriving business as a woodcarver, then became a land investor and by 28 was uncommonly wealthy. He became a noted philanthropist, helping hospitals, churches, schools and missionaries -- and a university. In 1881, when the University at Lewisburg was in dire financial straits, he stepped forward with a then-massive gift of $50,000 and at the same time challenged others to match it, which they did. His leadership and generosity allowed the university to avert bankruptcy. He then went on to fund the University's first scholarship, the first academic awards for female students, and the building of Commencement Hall (now known as Bucknell Hall), among other expressions of support. In 1886, the university was re-named in his honor.

The lobby of the Weis Center for the Performing Arts on the Bucknell campus features the busts of Claire and Sigmund Weis, who founded the Weis Market chain. The center was funded primarily through a 1982 bequest from the estate of Mrs. Weis, a gift that reflected her lifelong interest in the cultural life of this region. The Weis Center opened in 1988. Mr. Weis was known as an extraordinarily charitable man, and this philosophy became a way of life for his family.

We invite anyone interested to visit campus and the striking busts that commemorate these historic individuals.

Pete Mackey, Vice President for Communications and Community Relations, Bucknell University