What does it mean to be a Buckeye?
For Betty Schoenbaum, it's maintaining a lifelong connection--and paying forward in a big way.
Schoenbaum met her late husband, Alex, at Ohio State. They studied business and were part of the Class of 1939, with Betty earning a certificate of commerce while Alex graduated with a bachelor’s in Business Administration.
From the start, the couple had strong Ohio State ties: They met during a 1935 welcome dance, and their relationship blossomed while Alex, an All-American tackle from 1936 to 1938, played with the Buckeyes. They married nine months after graduation, living in a small apartment near campus while Alex worked in sales.
But the Schoenbaums would be best known for the Shoney's restaurant chain, which at one time had more than 1,800 locations in 36 states. The chain had humble beginnings: It started out as a Charleston, W.Va., drive-in restaurant called Parkette, opened in 1947.
As success came their way, the Schoenbaums paid forward, making their alma mater and education a priority.
“The scholarships I give, I think they’re going to one of the finest universities in the country," Betty Schoenbaum says. "We have so many majors and so many fine professors. We’re just one big city of education."
The Schoenbaums' gifts have created opportunities for students of all ages. Their support of Ohio State includes:
- The Schoenbaum Family Center at Weinland Park, opened in 2007 as a laboratory school for children from six weeks to five years. The center serves children and parents in a needy area of Columbus, while giving early childcare education student in the College of Education and Human Ecology hands-on learning opportunities. Says Schoenbaum: “The Schoenbaum Family Center was a chance for children who had never had advantages. It's the greatest thing a person could do, to give another person an education."
- Scholarships that support the Critical Difference for Women program and Fisher College of Business students.
- The Fisher College of Business undergraduate program building--named Schoenbaum Hall in their honor.
“I get so thrilled that I’m part of Ohio State,” Schoenbaum says. “It’s given us a roundness of life. We’re part of a great university and we never really left there.”