Alumni Spotlight: Glen Cotta ’56 and Carolyn Boewer Cotta ‘60
In 1955, Drury University had not yet celebrated its centennial and President Eisenhower declared his support of South Vietnam, beginning the United States’ involvement in the Vietnam War. During that time, Glen Cotta was a junior at Drury studying economics and enjoying time with his Sigma Phi Epsilon brothers. Glen remembers, “We were a mixture of talents…a great group in which to develop your own identity and form lifelong friendships.” Sigma Phi Epsilon is a retired Drury fraternity that was located on North Jefferson Avenue.
Prior to his graduation, Glen decided to voluntarily join the marines rather than be drafted into a different branch of the military. “No other branch of the service instills the feelings of pride and brotherhood…once a marine always a marine.” After graduating in spring 1956, he found himself in Quantico, Virginia for officer candidate school the following fall. That December, he was commissioned as second lieutenant in the reserves and spent the next eight months in basic training. During his periods of leave, he would return to Drury, “The 40 Acres of Christian Atmosphere,” and visit his Sigma Phi Epsilon brothers. He asked a brother, Dick Dunn, to help him find a girl to date, so Dick’s girlfriend set Glen up on a blind date with a Kappa Delta, Carolyn Boewer. “The friends I made at Drury have remained my friends for sixty years!” That was the beginning of the couple’s long distance relationship while Glen completed military training.
A Drury Romance
After attending supply school at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina for three months, Glen was sent to a helicopter unit at Oppama in Yokosuka, Japan. During his time in that region completing various operations, Glen ran into a fellow Drury Panther. “It’s a small world.” This was the first of many times he would encounter fellow Druryites all over the world during his military experience. After finishing up his active duty in 1959, Glen headed home to St. Louis.
During this time, Carolyn was finishing up her degrees in biology and chemistry at Drury. Because Glen was heading to graduate school at the University of Minnesota and Carolyn was heading to a medical technology internship in Springfield, they thought this would be their last date together at Drury. By the time Glen was leaving later that night, however, the two were engaged and ready to start a life together. “We not only shared our faith but also our Drury friends and experiences.” After Carolyn graduated in 1960, her Drury mentor helped her transfer her internship to a hospital is St. Paul, Minnesota so she could live closer to her fiancé. The two were married later that year. After the birth of their last child, Carolyn worked as a medical technologist in the lab at St. Joseph Hospital in Kirkwood, Missouri for twenty-three years. In addition to her work at the hospital, she has been an active volunteer and board member at Southside Early Childhood Center for fifty years.
After Glen completed his master’s in business administration, he began working at Southwestern Bell in 1961 as an accounting office supervisor. He moved on in 1965 and served as the programming and computer room supervisor for Falstaff Brewing Corporation for ten years. He would eventually return to Southwestern Bell as a systems consultant until 1991. During this time, Glen also joined the marine reserves unit where he was promoted to lieutenant colonel. He served with the reserves for twenty seven years, retiring in 1983. Glen attributes much of his success to his Drury Experience, commenting, “While working my way through Drury as a waiter in the commons and part of campus maintenance, I learned the work ethic skills that served me in the military and job market.”
Leaving a Legacy
Glen and Carolyn have a large family of six children, twelve grandchildren, two great-grandchildren and counting. While none of their children decided to attend Drury, one of their granddaughters, Melissa “Missy” Kaufman, graduated from Drury in 2009. Carolyn has remained adamant about her volunteer work in the child care field. She has received several recognitions for her work including Commerce Bank’s Community Service award in 2002, St. Louis Women of Achievement Award in 2012, and a Drury Distinguished Alumni Award in 2012. This is all in addition to her volunteer work at her local church and with her Kappa Delta Alumni Group in St. Louis.
Today, Carolyn is still heavily involved as a lifetime board member at Southside Early Childhood Center. Glen and Carolyn have taken many much-deserved cruises and land tours in over twenty countries, from Russia to Peru, and they enjoy adding to their list as often as possible.
While they reflect on their Drury Experience, they reiterate to students and alumni, “Enjoy the moment. When the time is right, give back your time, talents, and financial assistance, and do return to where it all began to relive the good old days.” Glen and Carolyn have embodied their own advice; they are currently members of the 25+ Year Loyalty Society, meaning they have given gifts to Drury for over twenty-five years. In addition, their gifts have been generous enough to earn them recognition in Drury’s Harwood Circle Society. Carolyn and Glen have a timeless story of Panther romance, and an inspirational lifelong dedication to their country and community…and it all started at Drury!