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U. degree is new jewel for Tanner’s crown

SHARE U. degree is new jewel for Tanner’s crown

Norman C. Tanner has received an unexpected gem he's fancied for more than a half century.

Tanner, a World War II veteran and former president of O.C. Tanner, received a bachelor of science degree in business - retroactively dated June 1945 - from the University of Utah in a surprise Alta Club ceremony Monday. About 50 friends and relatives attended."I was shocked," said the grinning octogenarian, sporting a cap and gown, clutching his diploma. "I didn't think I deserved it after all this time."

But Jerilyn McIntyre, U. vice president of academic affairs, found that the university had not counted Tanner's rigorous Army pilot training toward his degree, as is the current practice. That pushed the U. benefactor's credits into the bachelor degree realm.

"He earned it," McIntyre said. "The university is very pleased and honored to recognize a very special friend of the university."

Tanner says he left the university in 1937, 14 credit-hours shy of a degree, because he had run out of money. He then joined O.C. Tanner, a manufacturing company founded by his uncle 10 years prior, which grew from the confines of his grandmother's basement to a downtown office employing 26 by the mid-1940s.

But Tanner, a commissioned officer who ultimately achieved the rank of major, took a break from the business to serve during World War II. And when he returned, it was back to business and not to college.

Time passed, and the O.C. Tanner business grew. Tanner became its vice president and president, a capacity in which he also served the Utah Manufacturers Association, Utah Arthritis Foundation and the Salt Lake City Rotary Club.

He and his wife, Barbara L. Tanner, for years have offered donations and volunteer time to Tanner's near-alma mater, including the Utah Museum of Fine Arts, the Utah Museum of Natural History and KUED-Channel 7.

But at a recent university ceremony, Tanner mentioned to McIntyre his lament of not receiving his degree from the U.

Tanner was among many servicemen who never had the opportunity to complete graduation requirements after World War II, McIntyre said. But education some received in military service, including flight and officers' training, qualify for some missing credits.

After his family helped locate the appropriate documentation, Tanner qualified for graduation. His ceremony included the "Pomp and Circumstance" march, cap, gown and tassel.

The degree joins a list of honors, including those earned with his wife: Merit of Honor awards from the U.'s Alumni Association Emeritus Club, the Hope Chest Award from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, and the Utah Arthritis Foundation's Man and Woman of the Year Award.