Members of the Leverentz family who are part of the Shippensburg legacy are pictured in a family photo. Seated, from left, are Laura Fix, Shirley Leverentz, Deb Leverentz and Katie Leverentz. Standing, from left, are John Fix, John Leverentz, Amy Ginder and Nathan Ginder.
Ship tradition connects generations of Leverentz family
When senior Katie Leverentz of Elizabethtown walks through commencement May 11 at Shippensburg University, she will continue a 60-plus year family tradition.
“We’re in the third generation when it comes to family members who’ve attended Shippensburg, and we’ll probably get another one from this generation coming here in a few years,” Katie said.
Katie’s grandmother and late grandfather, her aunts and uncles, her cousins and her sister all attended Shippensburg. The connection the family shares dates from the late 1940s when Katie’s grandmother and grandfather met at Shippensburg.
“My mom and dad met at Shippensburg University, and got married the day after graduating,” says Deb Leverentz , a 1975 ship graduate and Katie’s aunt.
Deb said her father “would share a lot of funny stories about his time there. He was a GI, and had just returned from war when he attended Shippensburg. Dad said the GI’s were always up to hijinks. The university tried to impose a curfew, and they knew these guys were through major battle, so they weren’t really strict with them.”
When John Leverentz Sr. ’50 and Shirley (Cooper) Leverentz ’50 attended Shippensburg, dinner was a formal affair. Shirts and ties were a must, as each student sat down at their table for eight.“Waiters and waitresses came out and served them,” Deb said. “My dad said the guys always wanted to have more girls at their table because they knew they would get more food.”
Katie, who is an interdisciplinary arts major, knew about Shippensburg from the time she was a little girl. “Since I was little, my family has talked about Ship. My grandma actually sang the alma mater before my sister and I went to bed. It’s always just been a family thing.”
Katie’s sister Amy, who married a Ship alum whose parents also went to Ship, was able to pass along some advice. “My strong family connection definitely helped me in my decision to come here,” said Katie.
There’s yet another family connection: athletics. Katie was a forward on the soccer team which played at Robb Sports Complex—David See Field, the same site where her grandfather, who died in 1999, represented Ship. “My grandfather ran track, and played football on the site. I always thought it was interesting that we kind of played on the same field,” she said.
Deb said the Shippensburg family spirit is also part of their family. “I think it feels like family. Since my dad has passed I think of him when I go up there. It’s just a familiar and comforting place. I always felt like it was home.”
Deb credits the Leverentz-Shippensburg tradition to her mother who, as Katie noted, “sang that alma mater to me, to my nieces. I think it just stuck with us.”
The tradition may continue for yet another family member. According to Katie, her cousin may come to Shippensburg in two years.