Alumni Profile: Bob Warnke

Bob Warnke ’13, has donned many titles. He is a  brother, husband, father, Cub Scouts master, veteran, business-owner, landlord, county board member, realtor, retiree, cancer-survivor and now,at 70 years old, college graduate.

After high school, Warnke attended the Oshkosh Technical Institute (now Fox Valley Technical College). He left college one class short of earning an associate degree in marketing when he received his draft notice in 1967. He joined the Navy—putting his education on hold.

“There were a lot of things I wanted to do in life, but I had to take care of my family first,” Warnke said. “I came back from the war, got married and started a family.”

After 37 years at the Leach Company, dabbling in the Laundromat business with his brother and buying properties to rent out, Warnke spent 15 years as a realtor before retiring and attending UW Oshkosh.

“I had a drive in me and said this is what I want to do (get adegree) come hell or high water,” Warnke said. “It’s been tough, but I got through it.”

Setting his sights on earning his bachelor’s degree, Warnke accomplished that goal in May 2013. He earned a bachelor’s in leadership and organizational studies.

“He didn’t get a degree—he earned it,” Debbie Harris, a Lifelong Learning and Community Engagement adviser said.“He could communicate with his younger classmates, he stayed current with technology and he never questioned why he had to take a particular class—he understood it was part of being an educated person.”

Warnke attributes his recent academic success to his drive and commitment to reach this lifelong goal.

“I don’t define success in a monetary form,” Warnke said. “I define success by family, honesty and living a good life, playing by the rules.”

View photos from the May 2013 commencement ceremonies and watch the morning commencement speech.

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