Robert E. Schiesske (MET’78, Questrom’82)

An Apt Remembrance

A BU alumnus looks to the School of Medicine for a way to honor his parents.

Robert Schiesske lights up when he talks about his parents. His father, Victor, he describes as resilient and full of integrity. “He battled corruption within his own company,” Schiesske explains, “and he survived the death of my mother, four bouts of cancer, and continuing congestive heart failure by keeping up his strong work ethic and daily activities.”

Schiesske’s mother, Alice, was a generous person who was always connecting with people. “In 1939, she met an Australian rancher on a train,” Schiesske recalls. “He sent her a Christmas card every year until his death. She was unforgettable.”

And together, the Schiesskes shared a love of learning and curiosity. Robert Schiesske grew up in a home full of daily newspapers and magazines, and his parents instilled in him a love of education and opportunity.

Robert Schiesske was already working hard in the IT field when the time came to get a second degree. Knowing how important work was to his family, he searched for a master’s program that would allow him to continue his day job, but also give him an in-depth understanding of computer science. “BU had a nice evening program,” Schiesske recalls. “I could have supper in the company cafeteria and walk down to campus. It was almost a second job.” A couple years later, Schiesske had his degree from Metropolitan College—and admission into BU’s MBA program: another evening schedule, and another opportunity to expand his knowledge.

“Can you create a memorial that people are going to benefit from and appreciate, rather than just a granite slab?” —Robert Schiesske

When Schiesske’s parents passed away, he asked himself, “Can you create a memorial that people are going to benefit from and appreciate, rather than just a granite slab?” The years of struggle with his aging, and ailing, parents had given him an idea.

“A lot of people, when they start thinking about giving back, are getting more in touch with the medical community,” Schiesske explains. “The Wall Street Journal recently highlighted health care as nearly the top choice of retirees for ongoing support.” To Schiesske, this makes sense: After years of meeting doctors and witnessing medical procedures, the effects of degenerative diseases, and the difficulties in geriatric care, Schiesske knows how important health care is and how much support it needs.

Having been a student of technology and business, Schiesske might not have immediately considered his alma mater, were it not for the strong reputation of BU’s School of Medicine. He knew he could give to a national health organization, but this MBA-holder knows a little something about return on investment: “a very successful mutual fund manager once said ‘invest locally—it’s what you know best and easy to keep track of progress,’” he said.

He has since created The Alice (Davis) and Victor Schiesske Scholarship Fund, as well as several bequests, including a stroke fellowship named for his mother and a geriatric fellowship named for his father. Each is an attempt to further research and improve the odds for future sufferers of the same diseases and medical conditions that took his parents.

Thanks to Robert Schiesske’s generosity, these memorials will carry the names of Victor and Alice in perpetuity, reminding future recipients to work hard, to never give up, and to be generous, curious, and unforgettable.