COLUMBUS, Ohio – A little more than 73 years after enrolling at The Ohio State University, Ted Chandler received his Bachelor of Science degree Jan. 23 from the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES).
Sporting gray socks with scarlet block O's, a graduation cap and gown, and a cane featuring Brutus Buckeye, Chandler moved his golden tassel from right to left during a ceremony in the college’s Agricultural Administration building.
“It’s with a huge measure of pride that we take these steps to recognize your successes in life,” said Bruce McPheron as he conferred the degree to Chandler. McPheron is Ohio State’s vice president for agricultural administration and dean of CFAES.
“Commencement day is one of the best days of the year. It’s a reflection of what is the university’s most valued product – our graduates.”
A horticulture major, Chandler entered Ohio State in the fall of 1940, when he pledged Alpha Zeta fraternity. To get to classes in Plumb Hall, west of main campus, he rode in the open back of a dump truck that had been used during World War I.
He remembers mowing the grass and planting garden plots around Ohio Stadium, but his fondest memory from college was meeting his future wife, Willette Price, while working at the student union. Their first date was an Alpha Zeta picnic. She wooed him with chocolate sodas she made at the union’s soda fountain; he brought her tomatoes from the campus greenhouses where he later worked.
After participating in ROTC as a sophomore and junior, his studies were interrupted by World War II when he was stationed in Southeast Asia. After the war, Chandler returned to his studies at Ohio State for one quarter. He then returned to the family farm and pickle factory near Medina, Ohio, where his parents had worked on their own while he and his two brothers were at war.
Chandler took on management of the factory, which supplied pickles to Cedar Point, Isaly’s (a dairy and restaurant chain started in Mansfield, Ohio), and other small businesses that would sell pickles from barrels or repackage them with their own labels.
With just a few quarters shy of earning his degree, Ohio State considered Chandler’s life experience in deciding to confer the Bachelor of Science degree, McPheron said.
“Clearly I hear experience in engineering, food science, marketing and the transportation supply chain,” McPheron said, as he listened to Chandler’s stories. “You have certainly met our requirements for internships before graduation.”
When asked what advice he would give to incoming freshman, Chandler said, “Don’t look for the easiest way. You learn more from hard work.”
Chandler, 92 years old, still lives on the family farm near Medina, Ohio. Farm Packt Pickle Co. closed in 1992, and the factory now houses his collection of antique and classic cars. In fact, Chandler still drives the Model A he drove on campus in the 1940s. His two daughters and their families joined him for the ceremony.