There were plenty of proud grandmothers at commencement in May, but likely none with the Xavier credentials of Rita Kluener. Kluener was there to watch granddaughter Deanna Huber, the 16th member of Kluener’s family to attend Xavier, graduate with a Bachelor of Liberal Arts.
The legacy began in 1938, in the midst of the Depression, when Kluener, then Rita Wesselman, started at Xavier’s evening college while working during the day. In 1941, she graduated with an associate’s degree in accounting—the lone woman joining 63 men. The feat earned her mention in a Cincinnati Times-Star article.
Kluener’s brothers, Edwin and Anthony Wesselman, also attended Xavier, as did her future husband, Roy Kluener, who was also an evening college student studying accounting. They married in 1948.
That’s when Kluener’s legacy kicked into high gear. Through the 1970s, four of her five children—Larry, Tom, Mary and Giselle—attended Xavier. Daughter-in-law Mary Franer Kluener and sons-in-law William Rath and Ed Huber joined the legacy.
The next generation of graduates started in 2002, with Larry’s son Todd, his wife, Adrianne Zick Kluener, Tom’s son Chris, Larry’s son Scott (who holds two Xavier degrees), and now Deanna Huber.
And it’s not over yet. Kluener, who turned 90 just before commencement, already has plans for May 2013, when grandson Jeff Huber finishes his Xavier undergraduate career and joins the lengthy—and still growing—list.