Spreading the Love
By France Griggs Sloat
Life was good when Ray Broerman was growing up in the 1950s. His family had it all: a new house in Bridgetown on Cincinnati’s west side and a neighborhood pool down the street where he and his seven siblings spent the better part of their summer days. They would head out the door in the morning, swim towels in hand, and stay until it was time to come home for dinner. They slept in bunk beds—the four boys in one bedroom, four girls in the other. There was a peaceful sense of security and routine. Mom was always home, caring for their burgeoning family, while dad went to work each day.
Broerman’s father, Paul, picked a home in Bridgetown for a reason. It was a blue-collar community of hard-working people, the kind who found a good job and kept it for life. And it offered what was most important for Broerman’s father—easy access to the bus line. The family couldn’t afford a car then, so his dad took a bus every day to his job as a machine operator at Macke Brothers Bindery near the railroad yards at Union Terminal. He worked there all his life and rode the bus until Ray, the oldest son, got his driver’s license. That’s when his father bought a 1968 VW Beetle for Broerman and his sister to use to drive mom to the grocery and dad to and from work. They also drove themselves and their siblings to all their sports and school activities.
Though his parents didn’t finish high school, they managed to send all eight children to Catholic elementary schools and encouraged them all to continue their education. When Broerman said he wanted to go to Elder High School, his dad helped with the tuition, but Broerman contributed as well by working part-time jobs. And at the University of Cincinnati, his dad helped him secure loans that he paid back in full.
“My parents knew it was important for the kids to better themselves, and dad never flinched when I asked about going to Elder or UC,” he says. “It was like, ‘I’ll help as much as I can.’ ”
Now Broerman feels it’s his turn to help, and while he can take care of his own family just fine—three of his four sons enrolled at Xavier—he’s taken his father’s example a step further and is trying to help others. This is where his wife, Sue Driehaus, fits in. She also graduated from Xavier in 1976 with a degree in psychology. Broerman may have married into a Xavier legacy family, but he has wholeheartedly signed on as the ultimate Xavier fan. He began about 30 years ago by joining the Driehaus clan as a season ticket holder to men’s basketball.
When his boys enrolled at Xavier, two got academic scholarships. Feeling blessed by their good fortune, and inspired by Bob Driehaus’ annual gifts to Xavier, the Broermans began giving to the Annual Fund as a way to help others the way they and their sons were helped. As that annual contribution rose, they became lead donors to the Annual Fund as members of The 1831 Society. They also support Xavier athletics with regular donations to the All For One Club, they give to the Parents Fund, and three years ago, Broerman began serving on the President’s Advisory Council.
But the Broermans wanted to do more, something more lasting. So five years ago, they created the Ray and Sue Broerman Family Scholarship and have contributed to it every year since. Now that it’s reached its minimum investment of $25,000, the fund can begin helping Xavier students this year.
“We felt we had this wonderful opportunity to continue providing education for others beyond our own children, and we’ve been very fortunate,” says Sue. “So I think we’re just trying to carry on the values that we’ve witnessed with our parents.”
“A scholarship just seems like a great way to do it because we feel we can help someone who can’t afford to go, and it’s a way we can give back,” Broerman says. “Today you read about these kids who come out of school with all these loans, and so I want to help if I can.”
There is, of course, a reward for him and Sue. It reminds him of his own humble beginnings and the way his father helped him get his start in life, so he could have it all. “Mainly it just feels good to help someone that maybe would not have attended Xavier if the money was not there,” he says.