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Tuesday, October 3, 2023

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Bill Vogt (’35) Bill Vogt (’35)

A Lifetime Member at 105

At the age of 105, Bill Vogt joined SDSU Alumni as a lifetime member.
By Tobin Vaughn

It is safe to say that Bill Vogt (’35) has been a San Diego State University alumnus longer than anyone else around. He is believed to be the last remaining San Diego State student to have attended classes at the old campus in University Heights and among the first students to set foot on the current campus when it opened as a gleaming new institution in 1931.

In May, at the age of 105, Vogt joined SDSU Alumni as a lifetime member—likely the most senior alumnus or alumna ever to have made the commitment to the organization at this stage of life.

Why now? After all, it has been more than 80 years since he graduated.

Vogt says what prompted his lifetime commitment was an SDSU Alumni offer he received for a complimentary diploma frame to anyone signing on as a new Aztec for Life®. He never had one. In fact, he can’t recall ever receiving his college diploma.

Losing track

As he remembers it, Vogt finished his business degree course work in late 1934 in the middle of the academic year. He admits to his memory being “a little fuzzy,” but he believes at that time the school had no official ceremony for students completing degrees mid-year.

“I remember inquiring and wondering when they were going to have anything for the mid-year group,” he said. “I guess it wasn’t worth it because the group was too small.”

So he got on with his life, which took him away from San Diego for the better part of 20 years.  He served the country during World War II, and in Korea and Vietnam, and spent several years working on the East Coast.

“We didn’t network very well in those days,” Vogt said. “I kind of lost track (of San Diego State) except for one or two old friends I had maintained during those years I was away.”


With the help of his son, Bob, Vogt has reconnected with the university. Upon officially becoming an Aztec for Life, he was visited at his home by a delegation of SDSU Alumni staff who presented him his diploma frame and a mock-up of his San Diego State diploma.

“It will take us a few weeks, but we are going to make sure he has an authentic diploma to put in the frame,” said Tammy Blackburn (’94, ’01), SDSU director of development technology. When asked where he would display his diploma, Vogt said he might place it among his plaques from his service in the United States Navy, but would have to give it some thought.

“I’m a bit overwhelmed,” he said. “It’s a kind thought and good to know there are still some people at San Diego State who think about some of the old grads.

“I didn’t realize anything like this was possible at this moment in my life, but I sure want to thank all of you, and I want to say I can go on that last trip and say I’m proud to be a lifetime member of the San Diego State community.”

At 105, and more than eight decades after earning his degree, Vogt has learned yet another lesson from San Diego State: It’s never too late.