Soaring Aspirations

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Photo by Dan Loh.

Bob ’75 and Sue Rebuck Otway ’75 set their sights on helping students reach for the stars

by MaryAlice Bitts-Jackson

College was never going to be run of the mill for Bob Otway ’75, who arrived for his campus tour in the cockpit of a four-seater plane. Raised in Princeton, N.J., where his dad owned a gas station, he’d taken a ground-school course as an elective in high school and went on to pursue a pilot’s license before he was old enough to drive a car. His dad, who drove him to the airport for his lessons, soon followed suit.

Looking to transfer after his sophomore year of college, Bob flew with his dad to Dickinson for a tour. The short distance between the campus and Carlisle Airport was a big plus.

Bob majored in economics, joined Sigma Alpha Epsilon and worked at the airport, teaching locals and students in the Blue Mountain Battalion to fly and recertifying private pilots. An education class with the late Ben James ’34, later a friend, taught Bob the theory behind his methods.

Soon, he met the fellow econ major who’d become his wife.

One of five siblings, Sue Rebuck ’75 was a first-generation college student from rural Pennsylvania who’d grown up working at her family’s farm-market deli stand. Having studied abroad in high school, she was interested in Dickinson’s language curriculum. A Dickinson scholarship made her college degree possible, and she formed lifelong friendships—and sharpened leadership skills—through Delta Nu.

As graduation neared, so did weighty decisions. Instead of working for his family’s business, Bob remained in Carlisle and ran the flight department for Frank Black (now Tuckey Mechanical Services). After a short stint working at Dickinson, Sue went on to earn an MBA at Penn State and launched a data-analysis career at IBM’s parts-distribution center. Promoted into corporate management, Sue oversaw logistics for the tech powerhouse.

Married since 1978, the Otways enjoy traveling, good wines and connecting with Dickinson friends.

Now retired, Sue remains active, volunteering for Dickinson as class agent and admissions and reunion volunteer, and for organizations including Safe Harbor and the Leadership Education & Farming (LEAF) Project. Bob still runs aviation operations for Graham Capital Corp. He joins Sue in giving back financially.

The Otways are Mermaid, John Dickinson and Old West society members who support the College Farm, F.A.R.M. Lab and the economics and data-analytics programs. Last year, they established the Bob and Sue Otway ’75 Scholarship Fund, prioritizing students interested in economics and/or sustainability who, like Sue, could not afford college without financial aid.

“We met through Dickinson, and we want Dickinson to continue to be part of our lives in a way that feels meaningful,” Sue says. “We also believe in the liberal-arts education Dickinson offers, because we know what it has done for us, and we know that Dickinson invests in areas that are important to us and to the world.”

Read more from the winter 2024 issue of Dickinson Magazine.


Published March 8, 2024