John and Sue Gerdelman: Tribe Pride Personified

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From left to right: Mark and Emily Gerdelman, W&M Football Coach Jimmye Laycock, and Sue and John Gerdelman  (Photo courtesy of Tribe Athletics)
From left to right: Mark Gerdelman and Emily Gerdelman Ridjaneck, W&M Football Coach Jimmye Laycock, and Sue and John Gerdelman (Photo courtesy of Tribe Athletics)

To help kick off Family Weekend and the Tribe’s first home football game of the season, two alumni have made a $4 million commitment to the College of William & Mary.

A large portion of the donation from Sue and John Gerdelman, class of 1976 and 1975, respectively, will support Tribe Athletics.

William & Mary Athletics means a lot to the Gerdelmans.

John was recruited by former Tribe Football Coach Lou Holtz as a running back and received an out-of-state scholarship. He went on to earn academic all-American honors his senior year. For Sue, who came from an athletic family, a big part of her William & Mary experience was going to football games to support John, as well as attending other sporting events.

John’s football scholarship was a significant reason why the Gerdelmans decided to give to Tribe Athletics.

“William & Mary academics and athletics made me who I am today,” John said. “And because of that, we have the capability to give back and this was the right time to do so.”

The Gerdelmans met while taking a German class at the university. Since then, William & Mary has been a family affair, with their two children, Mark M.B.A. ’13, M.Acc. ’13, and Emily ’07 attending the university, as well.

“As you can imagine, William & Mary has a very special place in our hearts, and we thought this was the perfect way to give back and show our appreciation,” Sue said.

Their investment in Tribe Athletics will support scholarships for student-athletes and coaching positions, among other pressing needs.

A portion of the Gerdelmans’ commitment will support the Riceman Memorial Scholarship, which will help the university recruit promising student-athletes to the football program, as well as the Gerdelman Family Professorship for the School of Education and the Fund for William & Mary.

“It is our enormous fortune that Sue and John chose to go to college at William & Mary. They have been extraordinarily loyal and effective members of our alumni body. The Tribe would be bereft without them. Their generosity will enable William & Mary athletes of exceptional talent to pursue excellence on and off the field,” William & Mary President Taylor Reveley said. “This is a grand way to celebrate the first home football game of the year.”

The Gerdelmans have been longtime supporters and leaders at William & Mary.

“We come from a family of volunteers; it is what you do to be part of the community,” Sue said. “Wherever I lived, I knew the university would be part of my community involvement. William & Mary does a great job matching people’s talents to various needs of the university, professionally and personally.”

Both Sue and John have been active members on the Board of Visitors and as trustees of the College of William & Mary Foundation. Sue is currently the BOV secretary. John was formerly its vice chairman and now heads the board of the William & Mary Real Estate Foundation.

They have also served on many reunion gift committees. In fact, John will be attending his 40th Reunion – he also sits on the reunion’s gift committee – which will take place during Homecoming weekend. His goal is to get all 28 football players from the class of 1975 back to campus for their reunion this year and help celebrate all of the special events planned over the weekend.

“John and Sue are two of the most active and engaged alumni I have known during my time on campus,” stated Terry Driscoll, who is entering his 20th season as William & Mary director of athletics. “Their commitment to the university, Tribe Athletics, and to our student-athletes and coaches is inspiring. This gift falls in line with all the goals set forth in our Committee on Competitive Excellence Report, which John helped author, and will impact literally generations of student-athletes in their pursuit of championships.”

Sue and John received the Alumni Medallion, the most prestigious award given to alumni for their leadership, professional accomplishments and commitment to William & Mary. John received his Alumni Medallion in 2005, and Sue was honored with her award in 2011.

“The Gerdelmans have gone above and beyond in their support for William & Mary. Their level of commitment brings great excitement to the university and we are very thankful for their continued leadership over the years,” said Matthew T. Lambert ’99, vice president for University Advancement.