In 1961, the campus publication Susquehanna Alumnus published “A Sweetheart of a Story,” which focused on the first three generations of the Phillips family at Susquehanna. But as Larry Hutchison ’80 discovered through his extensive genealogical research, his family’s Susquehanna roots extend far deeper and more broadly than he could have imagined.
“Stories would be told to me over time,” Hutchison recalls. “One of the things I did during Covid was to really track down all four sides of my family. I start with what I know, and I work out from there.”
Much of Hutchison’s work was done using the tools that most of us would recognize, including Ancestry.com, Newspapers.com and FindAGrave.com, as well as Susquehanna’s own digitized publications like yearbooks and newspapers.
He was motivated, Hutchison says, by the desire to preserve his family’s legacy.
“Every family has someone who has done some amount of ancestry work,” Hutchison says. “I’ve taken everything I’ve found and saved it in a PDF so it can live from generation to generation.”
The Phillips-Hutchison family’s long legacy at Susquehanna began with Henry and Mary Jane (Polly) Phillips, who immigrated with their first six children to Pennsylvania from Carmarthenshire, Wales, during the 1880s and settled in the coal town of Shenandoah.
Family lore maintains that Polly soon longed for her native Wales and asked her husband to find “a small, green town that has a college,” as the Phillips were “education-minded people.” It was this charge that led Henry to Selinsgrove, which at the time was home to The Missionary Institute of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, later Susquehanna University.
“Polly was thrilled with Selinsgrove because it reminded her of Wales,” Hutchison says. “They settled there permanently, and the rest is history!”
The Phillips eventually had six more children, one of whom was Hutchison’s great-grandfather, William Phillips, who was married to Lumie Seiler Phillips, and they both attended Susquehanna.
Hutchison’s great-great-grandfather, Henry, was a tailor and clothes maker, and was able to send many of his 12 children to Susquehanna by bartering.
Between 1896 and 1917, one or more of the Phillips children was enrolled at Susquehanna. Most of them and their spouses left their mark on the university and surrounding community in some significant way, serving in administrative leadership, as a faculty member or athletics coach. Some were awarded honorary degrees in recognition of their service to the university and surrounding community.
From these very humble roots grew a long and very successful relationship between Susquehanna and the Phillips family, which, in the second generation came to include Hutchison’s grandmother, Aberdeen (Abby) Phillips ’34 Hutchison.
It was at Susquehanna where Abby met her future husband, David Edgar (Ted) Hutchison Jr. ’34.
While in college, Ted, originally from Downingtown, Pennsylvania, fronted a big band called Ted Hutchison and the Crusaders that played in bandstands throughout central Pennsylvania. Ted’s brother and sister also graduated from Susquehanna.
“Over the years, Ted was on the Susquehanna University Advisory Council and a member of the executive board of the Alumni Association,” Hutchison says. “Abby and Ted were loyal and passionate alumni of Susquehanna and received the Alumni Award for Service to the university in 1972 for their many years of dedicated service and support.”
Ted and Abby had two children. One was David Edgar Hutchison III, Hutchison’s father, who graduated from Susquehanna in 1961.
Hutchison fondly recalls his early upbringing in Selinsgrove, much of which revolved around SU’s campus.
“I was born while my father was attending Susquehanna. My family lived in several houses around Selinsgrove and everyone in town was great to us,” Hutchison recalls. “We had dinner every Sunday night with my father’s Aunt Marjorie Phillips ’30 Mitchell on Broad Street. My grandparents were also in town regularly to see family, attend sporting events and attend meetings on campus.”
Hutchison and his family eventually left Selinsgrove, but when it came time for Hutchison to choose his college path, he found himself drawn to Susquehanna like the three generations before him.
“Susquehanna was an obvious choice,” Hutchison says. “I visited and considered other schools but in the end, there really wasn’t a question as to where I would go.”
Like many of his relatives before him, Hutchison met his spouse at Susquehanna, Marcia Weaner ’82 Hutchison, who has her own Susquehanna legacy. Her grandfather, Scott C. Rea (of Rea & Derick Drug Stores), was a trustee from 1960–1972 and was presented with an honorary degree in 1963.
After graduating from Susquehanna in 1980, Hutchison and his wife moved to the Philadelphia area where he began his career in the investment industry. They have three children, two of whom graduated from Susquehanna — Justin in 2006 and Ian in 2010.
Over the years, Hutchison followed in his ancestors’ footprints and became involved with his alma mater. He has served on the Sigmund Weis School of Business Advisory Board and on the Alumni Board. In 2011, Hutchison received the same alumni recognition for service to the university that his grandparents had received in 1972.
“This was very special to me,” Hutchison says.
To date, approximately 60 members of Hutchison’s extended family have had some confirmed connection with Susquehanna — either as a student, faculty or staff member or trustee. And it’s a legacy that continues today, as Hutchison’s mother’s grandnephews Cooper Duffie ’23 and Teagan Duffie ’24 are current students.
Hutchison attributes his family’s allegiance to Susquehanna to various factors, including simple geography. Many of his relatives have lived in the central Susquehanna Valley for years. But he says it’s more than that.
“I think the other thing that’s pretty incredible about Susquehanna is, I’ve known five presidents, they all knew me by first name, and everyone there is like that,” Hutchison says. “There is something very, very compelling about that.”Return to top