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Spring 2004 - Alumnus

Destination Purdue > Spring 2004 - Alumnus

Alumnus appreciates degree, memories from Purdue

By Heather Klopfenstein

There are times when people become very successful and move away from their college roots, but one Purdue University agricultural alumnus still holds his alma mater very close to his heart.

Wayne Townsend
Photo provided by Wayne Townsend
Wayne Townsend, BS 1951

Wayne Townsend, from Hartford City, Ind., graduated with an agricultural sciences degree in 1951 and went on to become a livestock farmer and a politician, all while staying involved with Purdue. Townsend served as a member of the Indiana House of Representatives from 1959-1961 and again from 1963-1966, and then he served in the Indiana Senate from 1971-1987. He also was the democratic nominee for governor in 1984.

"I've always been interested in public service," Townsend said. "We used to talk about public affairs at least three times a day growing up and especially at the dinner table." Townsend said he decided to become involved in Indiana government because he wanted to make sure nothing stood in his way of someone achieving the American Dream.

Despite being so busy with public service, Townsend said he never fully recovered from the joy of being a college student. He said that he will never forget the time his senior year when the Notre Dame football team was on a 39-game winning streak. He traveled to South Bend to watch the game, thinking that the Boilermakers didn't really have a chance. "I was able to roam the sidelines and watched as Purdue pulled through with a 28-14 victory," Townsend said.

It's memories such as these that have made him want to stay involved with Purdue. "I met my wife at Purdue, all my siblings went there and my children went there," he said. "I've also made friends that I will keep in touch with forever."

Townsend stays involved by serving on Purdue's Board of Trustees, which makes many of them major decisions at the university. He is also an Old Master, which entails returning to campus every year to tell students how they can be successful in life. "It's a wonderful place to come to school," Townsend said.