Donor Profile: Larry & Pat Wetter
AMES, Iowa-When Rinard High School lost in the sub-state game of the 1951 Iowa state basketball tournament to a Roland High School team led by future Cyclone great Gary “the Roland Rocket” Thompson, Larry Wetter thought his basketball career was probably over. But just days later, Iowa State head men’s basketball coach Clayton “Chick” Sutherland gave Wetter a call. Within days, Wetter was a basketball player again – this time as a Cyclone with a full-ride athletic scholarship.
Today, over 50 years since Wetter last stepped on the hardwood as a Cyclone, he and his wife Pat are being recognized for helping create positive experiences for current Cyclone athletes. The Wetters recently donated more than $1 million to help Cyclone athletics “Take the Next Big Step.”
“If the money we give to Iowa State could help someone have the experiences and fun that I had, that is our goal,” Wetter said.
Wetter was a member of the Cyclone basketball team from 1951-55. He saw limited playing time in his freshman campaign, but saw increasing minutes with each following season. By his senior year, Wetter was named a co-captain and starter under new head coach Bill Strannigan.
Though Wetter recalls only average success during his tenure as a Cyclone hoopster, the experience was about more than victories.
“We only had a fair record, but a lot of fun, and I got to travel,” Wetter said. “Some of my best friends are from that Iowa State team in 1954-55.”
After graduating with an industrial economics degree, Wetter began his professional career in 1960 with the founding of JELD-WEN Corporation, a window and doors manufacturer. Wetter, fellow Iowa State graduate Dick Wendt and three others founded the company.
“We started very modestly, but we were able to grow it into the world’s largest window and door manufacturer,” Wetter said. “We manufacture or distribute our products in every state in the United States and in 40 foreign countries.”
Wetter is now retired and resides with his wife in Carefree, Ariz. Retirement has allowed the Wetters time to make an annual trip to attend Iowa State football games. Wetter is also a member of the Order of the Knoll, ISU Alumni Association and the Iowa State Letterwinner’s Club.
But even when he’s in Arizona, far from the heart of Cyclone country, Wetter says it’s easy to be a Cyclone fan.
“We’ve gone to some affairs here which ISU has hosted and I’m always amazed that there are so many alumni fans that follow Cyclone sports here in Arizona,” said Wetter. “There can be dozens of ISU alumni at a single cocktail party.”
In 2001, the Wetters also donated $500,000 to Bergstrom Indoor Facility capital campaign. The Iowa State Athletics Department would like to thank the Wetters for their generous gift and for helping the Cyclones “ Take the Next Big Step.”
A few questions for Mr. Larry Wetter
Q: When was your first ISU athletic event?
A: My junior year of high school in 1949.
Q: What was your most memorable game as player?
A: My senior year when we beat K-State in the first round of the Big 7 tournament. That really set us up for a good season. Two other games that stood out were against Oklahoma and Nebraska that year, those were my best performances as a player.
Q: Any favorite places to travel or play in?
A: I always enjoyed Boulder, Colorado. We always had to go down a couple of days early and get
adjusted to the altitude.
Q: Do you have any favorite players for basketball?
A: My team that I played with my senior year. I still keep in touch with all of those players. I also liked watching ISU during the “Hornacek years” and when we had Fizer and Tinsley.