Note: This story was published in the fall 2013 issue of VISIONS magazine.
Angela Glosser, a PhD candidate in sociology, always knew she was adopted, but it wasn’t until a few health scares in 1994 that she looked up her biological mother and grandparents.
All she had was a birth certificate with the delivering doctor’s name on it. Taking a deep breath and crossing her fingers, Glosser gave him a call. At first the doctor did not recall delivering her, but after a few questions and a trip down memory lane, he remembered.
“I know your grandparents. I had coffee with them today,” he said. “I could call them and see if they would like to talk to you.”
Without hesitation Glosser said yes. Later that night she was able to have the first of many conversations with her grandparents.
Although Glosser maintained limited communication with her biological mother, she kept in contact with her biological grandparents, H. Maurice Beaver and Lois Ferguson Beaver (L). It took about a year and a few more phone conversations before Glosser was able to meet them in person. Once she finally met them, she instantly knew they were great people.
“The most interesting thing about my grandpa is that he was a commanding presence,” Glosser said. “People flocked to him. When we would go out to a meal, people would stop by the table to shake hands and talk to him.”
The first couple of years, Glosser’s grandmother would introduce her as their “friend.” It wasn’t until a couple of years later that they would introduce her as their granddaughter.
“They would tell their friends my accomplishments and the things I had done. Those were some of the proudest moments of my life,” Glosser said.
Receiving the acceptance letter to Iowa State
Glosser received her master’s degree from Boston University in 2005. In 2009 she was an adjunct instructor at Indian Hills Community College. The recession hit, and the college announced a hiring freeze. Her friends convinced her that if she had any intention of completing her PhD, now would be a good time. She still remembers the night she broke the news to her grandparents.
“I remember the day I told them that I had been accepted to Iowa State,” Glosser said. “My parents and I invited my grandparents over for dinner, and I asked my grandpa if he would read something I received in the mail.”
Glosser handed her grandfather her acceptance letter. He studied it for a second then a big smile crossed his face as he handed the letter to her grandmother. They were so proud and excited that Glosser would be pursuing her PhD in sociology at Iowa State. They would spend the next few hours telling her stories about their college experiences.
Both of Angela’s grandparents graduated from Iowa State in 1949. Maurice, a retired farmer, received a bachelor’s degree in animal husbandry and Lois, a retired teacher, graduated with a degree in home management.
Glosser started taking sociology classes in the same classrooms in which her grandfather studied, when East Hall was the dairy sciences building.
A true Iowa Stater
The same night she told her grandparents she was going to be studying at Iowa State, her grandfather let her in on a well-known campus legend.
“You are not a true ISU coed until you are kissed under the campanile,” he said.
Glosser informed her grandfather that she would wait to get her kiss under the campanile until her graduation, when he could kiss her. He promised, and the deal was made. This would be their pact for the next couple of years.
When her grandfather’s health declined last year, Glosser asked him who would give her a kiss if he wasn’t there.
Her grandfather, always a joker, said, “Take $20 to the campanile. Some poor college boy will kiss you for beer money.”
They would then both laugh. But Glosser knew later in the fall of 2012 that her grandfather would probably not be able to make the trip to Ames for her graduation.
H. Maurice Beaver died on Oct. 15, 2012 at the age of 93.
Glosser has had a tough time dealing with her grandfather’s passing, but she always remembers the times when he used to make her smile and laugh. One of the first jokes he told her was that the “H” in his name stood for “Honey.”
Even though Glosser knew her grandfather would not be able to attend her graduation, she knew he would be there in spirit. She plans to purchase a class ring with the campanile engraved on it to symbolize the bond with a man she calls her “best friend.”
“Even though I have not known my grandparents all my life, I feel a bond with them as if I have,” Glosser said. “My grandpa was my best friend, and not a day goes by that I don’t miss him.”
Glosser has received great support through her major professor Matt DeLisi.
“Dr. DeLisi has been very understanding and encouraging,” Glosser said. “He gave me great advice for dealing with this loss and help with continuing to make advances in completing my dissertation.”
Glosser now spends her time finishing up her dissertation and working as an instructor of sociology at William Penn University in Oskaloosa, Iowa. One of the reasons she works there is because her grandmother lives in Oskaloosa and it makes it very easy to spend as much time with her as she can.
“One of the last things my grandpa said to me was ‘Take care of Grandma,’ and I’m doing just that,” Glosser said.
She walked across the stage at Iowa State’s graduate commencement ceremony in May. But before she lined up in her cap and gown, she visited the campanile with her parents, Bonnie and Wayne Glosser. Her grandmother’s health prevented her from attending the ceremony.
To keep them close on her special day, a photo of Glosser’s grandparents was tucked inside her cap.
“Grandma sent me a card and signed Grandpa’s name,” Glosser said, “because he would be so proud.”
About the writer: Nick Van Berkum ’06 is a communications specialist for the departments of sociology and anthropology at Iowa State University.