Alumni Profiles

Maurice Ranc '61

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'I Owe a Lot to the Fraternity'

Maurice Ranc '61, known to his friends as Mo, retired from the aerospace defense industry in 2001 after a 40-year career, and "I've been enjoying retirement ever since."


Mo, who graduated from Penn State with a degree in industrial psychology and a minor in industrial engineering, went to work at Martin Marietta right out of college. He was there for three years, then landed a job at defense contractor AAI Corporation, a division of United Industrial Corporation. The company builds unmanned aerial vehicles and electronic warfare simulators and test equipment. He remained at AAI for 37 years, working his way up through the ranks to eventually retire as vice president and general manager.


Today he enthusiastically dedicates himself to his many interests. "I have too many hobbies," Mo laughs. Among them are hunting, fishing, and wine-making. In fact, he's a multiple-award-winning amateur winemaker specializing in reds such as cabernets and merlots, even taking home gold medals from American Wine Society national competitions.


He's been making wine for about 15 years, buying the grapes from a small local winery that sells its harvest to amateur winemakers. He says it takes about a year from the time he purchases the grapes until the wine is ready to drink. Astonishingly, he produces about 150 gallons a year.


"I give a lot of it away and take some to contests. And, I drink a lot of it." He stores the many bottles of red in a large wine cellar in his basement. Mo says he's never thought of opening his own professional winery. "That's too much work," and he's obviously having too much fun to want to turn it into a job.


Mo and Betty, his wife of 42 years, also love to travel. "We just got back from a month in Curacao, an island in the Caribbean. We also go to Ireland once a year, where my wife has relatives. Most years we also spend a couple of months in Provence in the spring, but not this year. Instead we're looking forward to a transatlantic cruise from Ft. Lauderdale to Barcelona in May."


Last year, the couple hit the road for an epic two-month drive from their home in York, Pa., to Alaska and back. "It was 13,100 miles."


He and Betty have two children — a son and a daughter. Martha, 40, who graduated from Penn State with a Ph.D in chemistry, lives in California. Tom, 38, who is trained as a chef, is now a food sales professional and lives in Pennsylvania.


Mo has many fond memories of his time in the Alpha Mu Chapter. "Penn State was a big school even then, and I was from a small town. I think my first chemistry class had more people in it than did my entire high school," he says. "One of the Alpha Mu brothers — Gordon Fetkenhour '60, now deceased — was from my hometown of Donora, Pennsylvania. I enjoyed meeting the brothers during rush week." And so he decided to join.


Mo lived in the house for three and a half years. "Everybody lived in the house then, except freshmen." As an undergraduate, he also participated in intramural sports and served on the sophomore class advisory board as class representative.


"I owe an awful lot to the fraternity. They taught me what life was all about. Being a member taught me the basics of dealing with people and how to interact with others. I owe the life I have now and my career to Penn State and Alpha Mu." During his career, Mo had up to 1,800 people working for him, so possessing top-notch people skills was vital to his success.


Mo has remained involved with the chapter all along. He has stopped by the house at least once or twice a year since graduation. And now he's serving on the alumni corporation's board of directors.


He stays in touch with a number of the friends he made at Alpha Mu, including Ted Schuler '60, Jerry Schutzler '61, Bill Pantle '58 and Bill Simon '59. He'd like to renew contact with Bob Kreider '60, and "with everybody else from my pledge class."


Mo's future plans are to continue making excellent wines, keep traveling to beautiful locales with his wife, and remain involved with the brotherhood of the Alpha Mu Chapter of Pi Kappa Phi.

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