Family Patriarch Begins Walsh Legacy

When a student enrolls at Walsh after a family member previously attended, they are often referred to as a “Legacy” student. What do you call it when six members from one household attend Walsh? We call them the Wolber family!

For Ron Wolber (BBA ’76), Paul Wolber (BAC ’85), Phyllis Wolber (BBA ’87), Gary Person (BBA ’84, MSF ’94), Vicki Wolber (BBA ’08), and Andrew Wolber (BIS ’10), Walsh has been a common thread in their family for nearly 50 years. Call it seven degrees of separation!

Paul, a former Managing Partner at Grant Thornton, explained how his father came to enroll at Walsh. “In the early 1970s, my father was beginning his second decade as a police officer in Detroit. He aspired to the executive ranks within the Detroit Police Department (DPD), however, without a degree, he felt his career path would be limited.”

“Later, I remember dad saying attending Walsh was one of the “toughest” experiences he ever had, and in his world tough was a synonym for good,” said Paul. “With his Walsh degree in hand, he achieved what he wanted, earning the rank of inspector at DPD before becoming the Director of Public Safety for the City of Fraser.” 

Paul was the first in his family to follow in his father’s footsteps. “When I became interested in accounting, my dad told me I should consider Walsh because that was the program the school was known for. I know many in our family have degrees from Walsh, but each of us decided that on our own. Dad didn’t tell us where to go, he just told us early in our lives that we were going to college.”

Phyllis followed her father and older brother to Walsh. “We were raised with a strong work ethic. I watched our dad work full time, raise a family and attend college at night. It was part of our family culture that we would do the same.”

After earning her business degree, Phyllis married fellow Walsh alum Gary Person, and began a career at Kelly Services, rising to the position as Financial Manager after several years. Later, she changed career paths. “I decided to transition to education, earning a degree in Elementary Education, majoring in math – no surprise there! Phyllis credits Walsh for her ability to make the career switch. “Without my Walsh background I would not have had the confidence or the motivation to always do more. Walsh taught me how to prioritize my time and finances, how to set goals, and how to achieve those goals as efficiently as possible.” 

Phyllis’s husband Gary came to Walsh because of the school’s excellent reputation. “My most memorable moment was attending the graduation ceremony at Cobo Hall with my parents.” Gary has worked at Meritor Inc. for more than 31 years, implementing financial systems for several departments across the U.S and Europe. “Walsh is where I developed my analytical skills and learned how to apply them to data – which is the backbone of financial accounting and computer systems.”

“My father was a life-long public servant and I followed in his footsteps,” said Vicki Wolber, who was recently promoted to Deputy County Executive in Macomb County. “Although I am not a police officer, I serve in a public safety role and many of his former colleagues are now, or have been, my colleagues. Dad and I and also served together as adjunct professors at Macomb Community College, where many in our family enrolled before attending Walsh.”

“I picked Walsh because I knew the business degree would help take me to the next level. Walsh is not just for people with business backgrounds. If you are a specialist in another field, like I am, but find yourself in a managerial role, Walsh can provide the education and skills you need to succeed.”

Andrew, the youngest in the family to earn a degree, chose Walsh because “I admired my family and I saw the successes that my father and siblings achieved – I, too wanted to become part of the family tradition.”

Now a Team Lead at the Service Desk for Ascension Technologies, Andrew spent several years in active duty with the U.S. Army, serving in the Military Police and overseas in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Upon returning, he served as the Commander for the Fraser Veterans of Foreign Wars Post before enrolling at Walsh.

“I was hooked on technology at the age of six when my mother’s friend brought over an IBM computer and I played a video game on a floppy disk.” Andrew credits Walsh and his professors for taking his passion for technology and providing him with the tools to be successful in his field. 

The family has stayed involved with Walsh over the years. Paul served for several years on the committee for the Barry Tribute Dinner (now the Leadership Awards Dinner), helping raise funds for student scholarships. Vicki was recognized in 2017 at an Alumni-in Action breakfast for her accomplishments in launching the COMTEC center for Macomb County. 

Andrew still stays in touch with former classmates. “I made a lot of friends at Walsh. We started a tradition of going out every Monday night after class. We still continue the tradition to this day.”

Ron Wolber passed away in 2015. Paul added, “I know for the rest of his life my dad had the utmost respect for the College. Whenever family or friends said they were looking to go to college, he would always say Walsh was a great school and they should look into it. If he were alive today, I can assure you that he would be so proud of our family legacy.”

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