Recently, we featured a news item about one of our alums from the class of 1944, Dr. Robert DeGise, and his recent trip to the Iwo Jima Memorial as well as his experiences in World War II. DeGise certainly has had a memorable and stand-out life since his days as an R-MA cadet.
DeGise enlisted in the Marines before graduating from R-MA, but received a deferment so he could graduate. So, although he was inspired by R-MA English teacher Capt. Register to become a college professor of English, that dream was put on hold so he could serve his country.
Two weeks following his graduation, DeGise left his New Jersey home to head to boot camp on Parris Island, South Carolina and combat training at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. From there he traveled to the Pacific theater, seeing intense fighting for the next 18 months, which included the assault on Iwo Jima on February 19, 1945.
After his discharge from the Marines, he tried to enter college but there were so many former service men applying that colleges and universities were overwhelmed by the sheer number of applicants. DeGise wound up having to wait about a year before he could enroll and finally graduated with a BS in Journalism from Boston University in 1955.
DeGise went on to work for Caterpillar in Peoria, Illinois for 33 years where he assumed various roles in marketing as a technical writer and editor and an instructor in report writing for management employees. Following his retirement from Caterpillar, he finally was able to fulfill his high school goal 45 years after he graduated from R-MA as he became an adjunct professor of English teaching technical writing and business communication. During his 24 years at Bradley he earned both a master’s degree and a doctorate in education.
DeGise still resides in Peoria, Illinois where he is a semi-retired professor at Bradley, giving lectures to junior and senior classes on interpersonal writing skills and how important they are to the business world.