For Immediate Release
October 17, 2005
BLOOMSBURG—Thomas Diltz left Benton in the early-1940s, but his love for his hometown lasted a lifetime. As a monument to his affection for the small Columbia County community, Diltz established a scholarship that will help Benton residents attend Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania. The first scholarship will be awarded in fall 2006.
Diltz willed more than $98,000 to the Bloomsburg University Foundation to establish an annual scholarship for BU freshmen who graduate from Benton Area High School, said Diana VanFleet, development relations officer. Diltz, who earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Texas, is connected to BU through his brother, Carl.
Carl Diltz of Bloomsburg graduated from Bloomsburg State Teachers College in 1943, commuting from the family home in Benton to the campus. After graduation, he taught business courses in Columbia, Pa., and at Clarkson College of Technology, now Clarkson University, in New York. From 1962 to 1984, he was business administrator for the Johnstown City (N.Y.) School District, returning to Columbia County after his retirement.
Carl Diltz said his brother, Tom, took a different path after graduating from Benton High School in 1941, first enrolling in a 10-week engineering school in Bloomsburg and then moving to Philadelphia to study with the Signal Corps. His roommate in Philadelphia was Sidney Lumet, who later gained fame as a film director and producer. Through Lumet, “Tom got to know some of the New York theater people, including the actress Sylvia Sidney,” he said.
Tom Diltz joined the U.S. Navy in 1943, was stationed in New York, Illinois, Iowa and Oklahoma, and became an aviation cadet. But, he but never saw World War II combat.
“He became frustrated because he felt he was not doing his duty,” Carl recalled. “He decided to transfer from the Navy V-12 officer training program to become an aviation cadet and was sent to Chicago where he spent some time as assistant to the trainer of the Navy football team. He was sent to the University of Iowa where he started pre-flight training and to the University of Oklahoma. Then, he had the opportunity to get out of the service.”
After his discharge, Tom Diltz earned fine arts degrees from the University of Texas. He made films for the Texas University Extension Program, moving to the publications department of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission where he worked until his retirement. He remained in Texas, living in a retirement community after his wife’s death.
Tom Diltz, who was 80 years old when he died in February 2004, continued to reminisce about his youth in Benton late in his life.
“Tom and his wife had no children and I talked with him about his will,” Carl Diltz said. “We discussed how he could create something for the people of Benton. He loved Benton and he liked that he could do something for Benton and as a memorial to our folks.”
For information on establishing a scholarship through the Bloomsburg University Foundation, call (570) 389-4524.
Bloomsburg University is one of 14 universities in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. The university serves approximately 8,000 students and offers 65 bachelor’s, 18 master’s and one doctoral degree.