A Lifelong Friend for 60 Years

Volly Grande ’36 ’65

Call her sharp. Call her entertaining. Call her witty. Call her irrepressible. But whatever you do, hang on. It’s a wild ride in the world of Volly Grande ’36 ’65.

She’s a 92-year-old firecracker whose memories of PLU span generations.

“I was one of nine children and the first to leave home for college. On my first day at PLC in 1933 I took the streetcar from where I worked for room and board in South Tacoma. It was 10 cents out to Parkland from the city limits. On that streetcar there was a group of students who didn’t know one another. But we were all headed to PLC. We became lifelong friends.

“There were 250 students in school then. Everyone knew everyone. It was the Depression. Tuition was $75 a semester. Mine was $32 because I was a ‘PK’ (preacher’s kid). If you had a good job you made $200 a month. There were only three buildings on campus. We had Old Main, a little chapel and a gym.

“I was a cheerleader with Rhoda Hokenstad in ’34 and ’35. I married Otis in 1940. He was president of the student body, captain of the football team and later alumni board president. Otis died in 1988. We both sang in the Choir of the West under Joseph Edwards. I still sing in my church choir at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church by the Narrows,” she said.

Grande graduated from PLC in 1934 in the standard three years, taught for four years, was married and raised four children. Twenty five years later she returned for a fourth year at PLU, graduating again in 1965. She then returned to teaching for 10 years before retiring. She lives today in the Tacoma Lutheran Retirement Community. Grande has been an active volunteer and donor to the university since 1940.

“Students at PLU are still getting a great education and they need our support. They surely have mine, and I wish I could do more.” she said.

By Greg Brewis