What does immortality look like? In Marion, Ohio, it looks like one Ohio State education multiplying into many, many more.
In a sepia-toned picture, a 20-year old George Alber peers up from his three-point stance—the left wing of a leather-clad Buckeye football team posed outside a brand new Ohio Stadium. His hair is neatly combed, brow furrowed. The young George Alber meant business. When he graduated with a business degree in 1929, Alber went to work making fertilizer in his home town. Plant Life Fertilizer, the company he founded in Marion, became the largest privately-held fertilizer company in the country, making Alber a rich man during his lifetime.
When that life ended on Thanksgiving Day in 1997, Alber left the result of his life’s work to the community he called home. Half of his $32 million estate was invested on behalf of The Ohio State University at Marion to provide scholarships for Marion County students.
Fast-forward to today. Mariann Fetter, whose father knew Mr. Alber, began her college career at a small liberal arts college, with the intention of capitalizing on her beautiful singing voice as a music major. But a rapid-fire string of bad luck including deaths in the family and lost jobs meant, even with her scholarships, the 3.8 GPA student could no longer afford private college tuition. So she showed up at The Ohio State University at Marion. In one day, she was accepted, paired with a counselor, signed up for classes—and given scholarships made possible by George Alber’s endowment. “It made everything possible,” she said. “In one day, it was all taken care of. It was a huge relief and a load off my shoulders when that all came through.”
Because of Ohio State’s breadth of programs, Mariann has expanded her ambitions beyond music. While she’ll always be involved somehow in music, she now sees her upbeat personality in broadcasting or public relations. “Ohio State has definitely opened my eyes to this new degree I want to go into—and makes it possible with their school of communication.”
George Alber’s Ohio State business education gave him the tools to grow his firm and eventually to give Mariann Fetter—and hundreds more Marion students—the ability to realize their dreams.