When a family member once asked Harry Oyler '41 Bus how he wanted to be remembered, his response was quick and poignant: "I don't want to be remembered; I want to be here!"
And that is how Harry lived his life, fully committed to the things he held most dear: his lifelong community of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania; the U.S. Navy, where he served as an executive officer during WWII; his devoted family; and his beloved alma mater.
Harry graduated from Penn State in 1941 with a degree in commerce and finance. He married his high school sweetheart, Doris Katherine Phillips, the following year and served in the U.S. Navy from 1943 to 1946. When he returned from the war, Harry and Doris raised a family of five children, and Harry ran his own insurance agency in Chambersburg. But in the midst of a growing family and business, Harry never forgot about the University that he credited for his success.
"I don't think he expected to succeed so greatly in life. He was almost surprised by it," says Harry's daughter, Sue Smith '70 Lib. "I think he was just very proud, and he wanted to give back."
Over the years, Harry became deeply involved with Mont Alto, serving on the Penn State Mont Alto Advisory Board and forging close relationships with faculty and staff. Harry also supported Penn State Mont Alto philanthropically by establishing annual charitable gift annuities—one each year for 27 years. A lifelong investor, Harry held many appreciated stocks from early in his career, and he liked that gifting those securities to Penn State allowed him to reduce taxes on the appreciation, secure life income, and support future generations of Penn Staters.
"He was a lucky man, and he shared it," Sue says. "He didn't spend money on himself; he spent money on the things that made him happy—and Penn State made him very happy."
Doris passed away in 2016, and Harry passed away two years later at the age of 98. The Oyler Family Scholarship Endowment was established in Harry and Doris' honor with a gift of more than $300,000—the residuum of nearly three decades of charitable gift annuity contributions.
At Penn State, Harry is remembered as a dedicated alum, a loyal volunteer, and a selfless philanthropist. But he is also still here, as each year a cohort of Penn State Mont Alto students receives support from Harry and Doris—scholarships that open doors of opportunity during their years on campus and throughout their lives.
"Harry loved Penn State," Sue says. "I would even say he lived Penn State."
I am honored to receive this scholarship. In addition to my nursing courses, I finished my EMT certificate and obtained a monitor technician job at Chambersburg Hospital. These would not have been possible without the resources [the Oyler Family Scholarship] has provided."
—Ashlyn Ellis, junior nursing student at Penn State Mont Alto and recipient of the Oyler Family Scholarship