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A Family Helps Strengthen Lycoming's Future
Two young men waited in line outside the famous Spanish Riding School in Vienna, Australia. It was 1972, and both Roger Kyte and his friend, having recently completed military service in Vietnam, were on a 69-day tour of Europe. As the queue crept along, the men were approached by two young women — Lycoming students studying abroad during their May term. Angela (Vaira) '73 and Barbara (Edleman) Block '72 asked them if they had found the line for the Riding School. Roger, in his self-professed, smart-guy fashion, replied, "It better be because we have been waiting here for 45 minutes!"
The group laughed and the two ladies joined the young veterans in line, pleased to be in the company of other U.S. citizens. Roger and Angela, in addition to their citizenry, soon found they had something else in common — a mutual acquaintance, Otis Cook, from Roger's hometown of Boonton, N.J. Cook was a good friend of Angela's brother-in-law, John Crowe '71, who married her sister, Carol (Vaira) '71. Conversations continued, the ladies accepted an invitation to dinner and though Roger and his friend were on their way to Budapest, they later returned to Vienna to see the ladies again.
Upon their homecoming to the States, Roger continued to visit Angela, traveling between his residence in northern New Jersey and Lycoming. Thirteen months later they married in Angela's hometown of Washington, Pa., with the Rev. Dr. John F. Piper Jr., dean emeritus of Lycoming College, officiating. Barbara (Edleman) Block '72 and Sherrie (Burton) Smith '73 were in the wedding party.
The newlyweds soon returned to Roger's hometown of Boonton, where Angela found employment in the insurance industry and rose quickly through the ranks at several agencies to become an executive at Marsh USA, Inc. Roger returned to his pre-Vietnam job at Johanson Manufacturing. Their son, Morgan, came along in 1978, and Roger, taking advantage of an opportunity to spend more time with his family, retired early in 1998.
The family remained closely associated with Lycoming through the years. Angela served on the Alumni board and was a trustee. Although Morgan considered engineering at Lafayette and Lehigh, he fell in love with Lycoming and graduated in 2000. He fell in love again, this time with wife Sarah (Wolferz) '01, to whom he proposed atop the Eiffel Tower.
On July 25th, 2001, Angela and Roger made a commitment to give back to Lycoming. The college had, in so many ways, positively impacted their lives and the lives of their loved ones. That day they signed an agreement to fund an endowment for the Kyte Family Scholarship. The three wanted to make it possible for more New Jersey students to experience the distinguished liberal arts education that Lycoming offered Angela and the son who followed in her footsteps.
Less than two months later — September 11, 2001 — Angela was attending a meeting in New York City at the World Trade Center's Twin Towers. As for so many, the lives of Roger and Morgan forever changed that day when two jet airliners struck the Towers, taking the lives of Angela and thousands of others.
Angela's memory triggered a huge outpouring from classmates and fellow alumni, and Roger and Morgan gratefully watched the endowed family scholarship grow. But Roger wanted to do even more. In 2009 he made a bequest to the College, one that he believes will significantly help to strengthen the Lycoming legacy the family wants to leave in Angela's memory. Roger wants to see the scholarship's endowment grow substantially to offer even greater assistance to future generations of Lycoming students, some of whom will be peers of his and Angela's three grandsons: Liam, Graysen, and Declan!
Approaching the 10th anniversary of 9-11, Roger and Morgan experienced yet another remarkable Lycoming connection in their lives. This past yea's Kyte Family Scholarship went to a deserving New Jersey student, Kelly Arendacs '11. Unbeknownst at the time to the financial-aid office that granted the award, the office of Kelly's father was in the Twin Towers on that fateful day. Thankfully, he was at a meeting away from the buildings, but Kelly couldn't help but be moved by the amazing twist of fate.
The gift from the Kyte family enabled her to gain the same variable opportunity that Angela so often mentioned — the experience of a Lycoming College education.