College to Present Former Mayor with Honorary Degree at Commencement

David Raizk: "I Bleed Green and White You Know"

May 4, 2012

David Raizk (right) chats with WC President Jim Reynolds earlier this week about Commencement details.

David Raizk (right) chats with WC President Jim Reynolds earlier this week about Commencement details.

David L. Raizk recently needed to dig up his birth certificate while completing paperwork dealing with the public employee retirement plan following his 12 years as mayor of Wilmington.

He noticed his home address on the certificate was 232 Whittier Place, which is now the site of a sidewalk on campus near Marble Hall. “I guess you could say Wilmington College was my home from the beginning,” he said.

The College will recognize Raizk for his close, life-long affiliation with WC and his 30 years of service to the community at its 136th Commencement Saturday (May 5).

Raizk will receive an honorary doctor of humane letters degree at the ceremony held in the gymnasium — Fred Raizk Arena — named in honor and memory of his father, Fred, who served the College for some 53 years as coach, faculty member and administrator.

“It’s going to be tough receiving this honorary degree in ‘Fred’s house,’” he said. “It still awes me to drive past the College and view the sign promoting the next basketball game in Fred Raizk Arena.

“I’ve had some pretty good moments in my life, but I can’t think of anything (outside of family milestones) that ranks higher or equals this — it is the zenith for me,” he added. “My association with the College goes back to the time of my birth. I bleed green and white you know.”

Raizk literally grew up on the College’s campus. In the 1950s, Fred Raizk and a number of other faculty members built homes on land given to them by the College off Elm St. in an area that become known as Faculty Place.

He recalled other “faculty brats” living in the area, among them Becky Heiland, Anne Carr and Tim Jones.

“We all grew up running around this beautiful campus,” he said, adding that he used the resources of Watson Library while in high school, snuck into Whittier Court to shoot baskets with friends and enjoyed Frank Teener introducing him and his young contemporaries to the cosmos visible through the College Observatory telescope.

But some of the best times as a youth and young teen were spent with his father’s sports teams. The elder Raizk coached six sports.

He fondly recalls missing 38 days of school as an eighth grader due to traveling with the College’s basketball team.

“By the time I was 15, I’d been on nearly every small college campus in Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky,” he said, noting he held the assistant manager position with the team.

“It was a great way to spend time with my dad,” he said. “It was the best education anyone could have.”

The memories of those years are plentiful. There was the time the team traveled in cars to play Berea College and one vehicle in the caravan was involved in a serious collision.

(LEFT) David Raizk (R) stars with Timothy Larrick in the 1999 Summer Theatre production of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.

“We left some guys at the hospital — they insisted that we play the game, so Dad scraped together enough players to field a team. I think he even had to dress the manager,” he recalled.
Raizk shared the life’s lesson he learned on another road trip in the middle South.

“In Kentucky, Jim Crow was still alive and well,” he said. “We stopped after a game to get something to eat. They wouldn’t serve our African-American player. He offered to sit in the bus while the team ate, but Dad said, ‘We eat together as a team or we don’t eat at all.’ We all walked out, got on the bus and drove back to Ohio. That made an impression on me.”

Raizk remembers WC playing a superior team in Whittier Court, where the stands were practically on the basketball court.

“We couldn’t stop that team’s fast break,” he said. “The players said, ‘Davey, go across the court; your mother wants you.’” Seeing the boy literally running across the court, the referees whistled the play dead. “That slowed down the fast break.

“A lot of wonderful memories,” he added.” “I probably grew up too fast because I learned a lot of things around the college men that junior high kids didn’t need to know.”

But he also witnessed the hard work ethic and perseverance that led to those student-athletes’ successful lives

“After the game was over, the lights on the bus went on so they could study on the way home. Then a lot of those players got off the team bus and onto the bus that took them to work at Randall Company,” he said. “They worked their way through school. It was very inspiring. Those experiences taught me how special Wilmington College really is.”

Raizk recalled being 12 years old and seeing Maxine Murphy star in the College’s production of South Pacific directed by theatre professor Hugh G. Heiland in 1962.

“I got a taste for theatre,” he said. “In high school, Hugh’s protégé, Randy Bolton, put fire in our bellies. We did a lot of creative work at the high school. In a way, it was just like Hugh directing us.”
When Raizk started at Wilmington College in 1968, he didn’t initially think he wished to pursue his interest in theatre.

“Once in College, I thought, ‘I’ve got to get serious, you know, put all this fun stuff behind me’; plus there was a starting line-up of actors there I didn’t think I could crack,” he said.

Heiland learned of his intentions, summoned him on campus and said, “Get your butt to tryouts.” As a freshman, he and Carr co-starred in Moliere’s Tartuffe.

“Once I started, I knew it was what I wanted to do,” he said. “Hugh, of course, knew that about me from the start, but I didn’t know that.”

Raizk calls his theatre experience his “foundation” for everything he has accomplished since: public speaking, sales, business and elected office.

“It’s impacted everything that I’ve done,” he said. “I’ve shared the platform with a governor, U.S. Senators and the Vice President of the United States. I wouldn’t have had the confidence or resources to do that without the theatre training I received at Wilmington College.”

Raizk went on to co-found with several others the WC Summer Festival of the Arts, which in July, under the name College-Community Summer Theatre, is observing its 40th season. He has performed in some 50 College and community shows as an actor, director or producer.

While at WC, he and Richard Heiland co-wrote a student governance constitution for greater student representation and Raizk served as the first president of Student Government Association in 1970. He joined Gamma Phi Gamma fraternity and has been active as an alumnus.

After leaving WC in 1972, he and Bill Marine acquired Hugh Heiland’s Men’s Shop on South St. and began D&M Men’s Shop. They later acquired the former Litt Bros. department store on Main St. and created DAMARS before Raizk joined Bill Marine Ford in 1978 as general manager, a position he still holds.

Raizk’s affiliation with the College has taken on many manifestations.

He filled an unexpired term on the College’s Board of Trustees in 1992 and went on to serve two six-year terms that included chairing the Presidential Search Committee that brought Dan DiBiasio to WC in 1995. “That search was an amazing year-long experience,” he said.

This past year, he served on the search committee that selected Jim Reynolds as the College’s 18th president.

(RIGHT) David Raizk speaks at the College's 2010 Alumni Reunion Weekend.

His family’s association with the College is long and varied.

Indeed, Raizk married Mary Ann Terrell (“the best thing that ever happened to me!”) in WC’s Hazard Arboretum in 1972 with their wedding reception in Pyle Student Center. Perhaps that was fate because their birth announcements were positioned side-by-side in the winter 1950 issue of WC’s alumni magazine.

Mary Ann is a member of the College’s Board of Trustees.

Their daughter, Lauren, married fellow WC Class of 1999 graduate Joshua Wulff on campus several years ago in the shadow of the Simon Goodman Memorial Carillon. While daughter Leyla is not a WC alumnus, plenty of other family members are.

Raizk’s father was a member of the Class of 1936 while his brother, Fred Jr., and sister, Shirley Ellis, are graduates from the classes of 1967 and 1963, respectively. Also, Ellis’ husband, Jon ’62, and son, Brett ’95, are WC alumni.

Furthermore, Mary Ann’s sister, Martha Jo Terrell Buller, is in the Class of 1963 and their deceased parents, Benjamin and Evelyn Pidgeon Terrell, attended in the 1930s.

As Raizk contemplates the College’s Commencement, memories of his parents, Fred and Wadad, come to mind. While his father is a well-known Wilmington College legend, this honorary degree takes on a special meaning when he thinks about his mother.

“If anyone in my family deserves an honorary degree, it’s my mother,” he said. “She was so loyal to the College. She was like a second mother to Dad’s players. Also, she was one of the brightest people I’ve known. If she had the opportunities in education that we did, who knows what she could have done.”

Raizk fondly recalls his sports fan mother offering his father critiques of WC basketball and football games. “After Dad told his players what they did wrong after a loss, he got home and received a earful of what he did wrong coaching,” he said. “Nobody loved Wilmington College more than she did.”

And few people have a greater appreciation for what Wilmington College means to the community than Raizk does.

“The College is central to the type of community we have,” he said. “There are a lot of small cities with 12,000 people in southwest Ohio, but Wilmington is such a beautiful, cosmopolitan, eclectic community in large part because of Wilmington College.

“The success of the College and Wilmington community are forever linked.”