A Way to Say Thank You
Larry Ankuda MBA ’75 never forgot his father’s stories about the Great Depression.
Back then, his dad told him, kids had to make their own toys; they’d even compete with each other for leftover apple cores. “That’s how poor and hungry they were,” Ankuda recalls. “That made an impression on me.”
The troubling memories are the reason his father urged his eldest son to go to college and into a stable field, so that even in hard times, he would have a job.
Ankuda followed that advice, earning a degree in chemistry at the Case Institute of Technology in Cleveland, now Case Western Reserve University. “I liked chemistry,” he says, “but it wasn’t a passion.”
With the backdrop of the Vietnam War and a keen interest in flying, Ankuda volunteered to join the U.S. Navy’s flight program. Stationed at Moffett Field, he became a navigator tactical coordinator, helping to track Russian missile submarines off the coast of California.
By 1969, he was a plant engineer at the Kaiser Permanente Cement Plant in Cupertino. As the years went by, he began to consider branching out on his own. To expand his business acumen, he enrolled in night school at Santa Clara University, earning his MBA in 1975. The degree reinforced his father’s wise counsel, giving Ankuda the confidence to start his own business selling special equipment to industrial companies.
“The MBA was life-changing,’’ he says. “It allowed me to do more of what I wanted to do.”
It also inspired a new career. Ankuda wanted to use his background in math and science to teach middle and
high school students. “By that time,” he says, “I figured I had something to pass on.”
Meanwhile, like his father before him, Ankuda paid for his two daughters’ college educations. His youngest, Ellen MacDermid ’90, now a tech communications consultant, chose Santa Clara University. “Santa Clara made such an impression on me and my daughter,’’ says the retiree. “My wife Erica and I wanted to do something not just for the university, but for a student.”
Larry and Erica chose a Charitable Remainder Trust, with payouts to benefit their grandchildren. When the trust terminates, their generous gift will create a scholarship for students who major in history, a favorite subject of Erica’s.