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Summer 2003 | Volume 26, Number 3 | Campus
Like Grandfather, Like Grandson
The Thrill of Graduation Transcends Age

was born and raised on a remote Alberta farm in the early 1920s, his home had no electricity and no running water. The one-room schoolhouse he attended included nine grades. A rugged individualism would forever mark the young Canadian with a penchant for risk-taking and a fierce pride of accomplishment.

Sheldon Arnett and grandson Jeremy Johnson are both members of the Class of 2003. Nearly 60 years apart in age, they happily shared in Ivy Cutting, an SPU graduation rite as old as Arnett.
On June 7, Sheldon Arnett, now 80, put to rest something that had needled him for more than half a century. He donned cap and gown and received his bachelor’s degree in history from Seattle Pacific University — 52 years after stopping his education at Seattle Pacific College just five credits shy of a diploma to go to work in his father’s Ford dealership.

And in a poignant twist of providence, joining him at the platform before an assembly of nearly 6,000 was his grandson, Jeremiah (Jeremy) Johnson, who earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from SPU.

Among the witnesses were 40 family members and friends who had traveled with Arnett from the Bend, Oregon, area where he now lives. Most of them had attended Seattle Pacific. “They are just amazed for me, after all this time,” says Arnett, who sat with the platform party and read Scripture from the Gospels of Matthew and Mark.

The celebration carried over to a restaurant where the two guests of honor again shared the closeness that has marked their relationship all of Jeremy’s 22 years of life. Grandfather and grandson lived only 14 minutes apart and have ridden motorcycles, fished and bagged Alaskan caribou together. Just as visibly, they share a love for learning that transcends age.

Though Arnett had tried before to take his final five-credit course long distance, it wasn’t until this year that Seattle Pacific’s class in medieval history became available by correspondence. “My teacher was Alberto Ferreiro, a great professor,” says Arnett. “He really analyzes your work and made lots of marks in the margins of my essays. He’s a Catholic, and I’m a Protestant. Those two perspectives made the class even more interesting.”

Johnson, who is interning with a Payne Weber stock brokerage in Seattle this summer, thinks his grandfather, who trained fighter pilots and flew B-17s in World War II, is as “ornery and spunky” as he is accomplished. “He’s the biggest risk-taker I’ve ever seen,” says the new graduate. “Part of getting his degree now wasn’t even for himself. He’s always put a lot of pressure on his grandchildren to get a good education. I think earning his diploma was a way of giving that message a little more credence.”


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From the President
Americans today are searching for a new tone for their lives. “We are talking here about another set of values — not the giddy sense of entitlement that emerges out of exuberant times,” says President Philip Eaton.

A Gift at Any Age
Young alumni are supporting The Campaign for SPU with the Young Alumni Endowment. They will provide scholarship support to students engaging the culture. [Campaign]

The Retiring Class of 2003
Five professors, with a combined 162 years in the classroom, retired this year. They tell of their careers and the impact students had on them. [Faculty]

Still Exploring
Missionary bush pilot Roald Amundsen ’41 founded Missionary Aviation and Repair Center (MARC) — becoming an explorer just like the famous Norwegian for whom he was named. [Alumni]

Second Wind
A marathoner, wife, mother and business alumna, Claudia Shannon came back after tough times. As a 45-year-old senior, she was on the SPU cross country team that ranked 14th in the nation. [Athletics]

My Response
After 25 years, Joyce Quiring Erickson, retiring professor of English and dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, reflects on glossy brown chestnuts, home and the Promised Land.