John W. Syron Jr. '74 can't wait until baseball season begins at UT. He'll be sitting at the Sam Bailey Baseball Field, cheering for his favorite team-and especially his favorite player, John W. "Jack" Syron IV, his grandson.
Jack is a third generation Spartan, but always first in his grandfather's eyes.
"I'm so proud of Jack," John says. "He's a fine young man, but then I'm proud of all my children."
John's son, Mike, and daughter-in-law, Kathleen, are 1976 UT grads and his daughter, Mary Kay, graduated from UT in 1990.
His grandson, Jack, is projected to graduate in 2018, 34 years after his grandfather graced UT's hallowed halls. And if John has his way, there will be more generations of Syrons to graduate from his alma mater.
A favorite topic for John is the American judicial system and his illustrious career in law enforcement.
"I went into law enforcement because I wanted to help people. It's about rehabilitation. It's about helping people straighten out their lives and seeing to it that they get the help they need," he explains.
John was born in the small town of Floral Park, New York, on Long Island. At 17, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy and served during World War II. In 1950, he joined his family on vacation in Tarpon Springs, Florida, and met and married "a red-headed Greek girl," Tasula. He also attended St. Petersburg Junior College and became "hooked" on education.
Eventually John had an opportunity to join the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. He was hired in 1962 and spent 31 years handling everything from criminal investigations to managing the maximum security jail.
As division commander, John oversaw between 1,200 and 1,400 inmates a day and 300 employees. After retirement, he went to work for the Pasco County Sheriff's Office for nine more years.
UT Adventure Begins
Along the way, John managed to earn two undergraduate degrees, in sociology and criminology, and his masters degree from UT. In addition, he was part of UT's adjunct faculty from 1974 - 1979, teaching courses in areas of criminal justice.
Highlights from John's days at UT include serving as president of Lambda Alpha Epsilon, the national criminal justice fraternity, and membership in Kappa Delta Pi, the national education honor society.
"I can honestly say that I can't remember any time at UT, either as a student or adjunct faculty member, that wasn't a great adventure," John says. "The grassy area east of the original student center, the cast iron benches and the quietly moving Hillsborough River were always very soothing to me."
John added that he always had a strong drive to stay connected to UT. One of his connections translates into monthly contributions for the Fredrick Spaulding Society.
"I am happy to help the students and the University," he says. "I would strongly encourage other UT alumni to think about helping out."
John now lives in Pasco County but said he will make the trek to Tampa to see his grandson play baseball at UT.
"I'll be at every game, unless I'm in the hospital!"
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