When Talia Bertrando ’22 leads prospective students across the Juniata College campus on tours, she’s armed with more than just her own academic and athletic credentials, and much more than just a few years of oncampus familiarity.
She has generations of information to share.
Talia’s grandfather, great grandfather, and great-great-grandfather attended Juniata and have provided unparalleled leadership and support through the years.
“She just loves Juniata and I think they love her, too,” says her grandfather, Henry H. Gibbel ’57, a longtime supporter of the college who served on the board of trustees for 46 years, including five as chair. He earned an honorary doctoral degree from Juniata College in 2012, chaired two presidential searches, hosted many prospective student events, participated in alumni trips, and famously attended every one of the school’s football games, home and away, during a 20-year stretch from 1952 to 1972.
He and his wife, Joanie, have been dedicated donors and volunteers throughout their lifetimes. In some ways, it’s all they’ve ever known.
We’ve always had Juniata in our blood, and always done our best to support it.
“My grandfather, Henry R., was class of 1888. My dad, Henry B., was Class of ’26,” Gibbel explains. “Our only son, Henry R., came out of Juniata in 1981, and his son, Henry A., graduated in 2015. My father was active for 33 years with Juniata, until he died at the age of 55 in 1959. We’ve just always had Juniata in our blood and have always done our best to support it.”
From bricks-and-mortar efforts to student scholarships and the prestigious Gibbel Award for Teaching Excellence awarded to a faculty member with six or fewer years of service, the Gibbels have helped shape and reshape Juniata.
“We wanted to take Henry, (our) son, to other colleges to visit and he said ‘No, I want to go to Juniata,’” Joanie Gibbel says. “Not all of our three children or eight grandchildren went to Juniata — our one daughter went to Duke, for example, and that’s a good school, they all went to good schools — but they all have Juniata in their hearts because of their grandfather.”
The Gibbels are not alone in providing that kind of long-lasting and significant support.
“Growing up, Juniata was always part of our lives,” says Barbara Beachley Marshall ’74. “When my grandparents and parents established the original Beachley Distinguished Professor Award, I remember coming to commencement when that first award was given out. I was in high school. That was the first time I realized we were part of something that was so special.”
The Beachleys were a big part of making things special.
Barbara’s grandfather, Donovan R. Beachley Sr., Class of 1921, a longtime member of the board of trustees, and grandmother, Grace Rinehart Beachley, partnered with her parents, Donovan R. Beachley Jr. ’47, also a longtime member of the board of trustees, and Mary Ellen Beachley, to create the Beachley Award for Distinguished Teaching and the Beachley Award for Distinguished Academic Service.
Her brother, David Beachley ’77, became his class fund agent shortly after graduation and embraced that role. He provided a model of committed and consistent philanthropic support for his classmates and many others through the years. A current member of the board of trustees, he has led the annual fund and advancement committee at different times. He has bolstered the Beachley Awards with his own financial support.
In addition, Barbara endowed a fund for the education department, and the family has made gifts to the Statton Learning Commons, to support faculty excellence, and to improve Kepple Hall as part of their widespread philanthropic efforts. They provide support because it’s needed, because it makes a difference, and because what they do might convince others to do the same.
“People in education don’t often have the means to make a significant gift. My hope was that it would benefit the department and that maybe other people interested in education would add to it,” Barbara says. “It’s rewarding to see the impact it’s made. I’m so impressed with what the education department has been doing.”
The Beachley family’s efforts have been impressive.
“Really anytime there’s been a campaign we’ve supported it,” David Beachley says. “We’ve supported our local hospital, the YMCA, and community organizations, but Juniata is always our priority.”
On the 50th anniversary of the family’s first gift, Mary Ellen Beachley made a $250,000 gift to support faculty and professional development. “We attended other schools — Cornell, Radcliffe, and MIT — but never connected with them like we did Juniata,” she says.
Family provides the connection and touchpoint for many longtime supporters. Dan Sunderland ’88 followed his father, Klare Sunderland ’56, and mother, Doris Markey Ziegler ’55, to Juniata. Earlier this year, Dan’s son, Matthew Sunderland ’21, earned his degree.
Dan’s father was a member of the board of trustees for 43 years (from 1970 until his death in 2013), and served as board chair. Dan’s decision to attend Juniata was a “no brainer.” Dan and his wife Kerry have made annual gifts of support, including gifts for the Juniata Scholarship Fund and a new gymnasium floor in the Kennedy Sports and Recreation Center.
It was family, though, that matters most. When Matthew decided to follow in the family’s footsteps and attend Juniata in 2017, that reignited Dan’s connection. Dan is now a member of the board of trustees — and proud of his three-generation connection with the school, as well as his family’s three generations of success in their automotive sales business. He’s the owner and president of Sun Motor Cars.
“There are many ways to support Juniata College. Obviously financially, and everyone can make their own decision about what they can do,” he says. “My schedule changed as I got older, and my other board and volunteer commitments changed, freeing me up to give more time as well.”
“That’s the big thing — if you can connect a little with the College, through an alumni event or something with prospective students, it builds a connection. It’s great to meet prospective students, current students, and other alumni, and it doesn’t take 20 hours a week. Just a little interaction gives you a great sense of the need students have, and the needs the school has. Doing that motivates you to want to help out.”