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Father Jenco, Mister Rogers Among Graduation Speakers

May 10, 1987 GMT

Undated (AP) _ A former hostage in Lebanon pleaded for peace, William F. Buckley defended democracy and Mister Rogers led a chorus of ″Won’t You Be My Neighbor?″ while receiving honorary degrees Saturday as colleges and universities nationwide held spring graduation ceremonies.

Father Lawrence Martin Jenco, a former Lebanon hostage, urged graduates of the University of South Carolina-Spartanburg to be ″instruments of peace″ in a world torn apart by many forces of evil.

The Roman Catholic priest, who was released last summer after nearly 19 months in captivity, urged graduates to ″fill your hearts with all that is true and noble and good,″ when striving for a peaceful world.

Jenco received an honorary doctor of humane letters degree.

At Bowling Green State University in Ohio, Fred Rogers, host of the children’s television show, ″Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,″ led graduates and faculty in singing the show’s theme song after receiving an honorary doctor of humanities degree.

He stressed the importance of lifelong creativity.

″There would be no arts and sciences if human beings had no desire to create,″ Rogers said. ″It seems to me the most essential element of any creation, any art or science, must be love.″

Conservative columnist and National Review founder William F. Buckley, who received an honorary doctor of letters degree from Bowling Green, told graduating seniors to be loyal to the nation’s democratic system and ″mind your democratic manners.″

Vice president and GOP presidential candidate George Bush stressed ethics and values to graduates at Albion (Mich.) College, saying they should be taught in school because ″many in this country still have much to learn about right and wrong.″

″You often hear that you can’t teach values,″ Bush said. ″I don’t buy it.″

In Concord, N.H., New York Gov. Mario Cuomo urged involvement as he addressed the graduating class at the Franklin Pierce Law Center.

″I chose to be involved, to participate,″ said Cuomo. ″To lend my efforts ... with a full heart and an eagerness to make a difference, out of gratitude for all this country has meant to me and my family.″

Jorge Espinosa de los Reyes, Mexico’s ambassador to the United States, told the more than 3,200 graduates of Texas A&M University that improved relations between the two countries required a better understanding of their political, economic and cultural differences.

″Both of our countries have a rich cultural legacy, and must continue making efforts to gain better knowledge of each other while mutually respecting our differences,″ the ambassador told the graduates Friday evening.

Chuck Scarborough, New York’s WNBC-TV news anchorman and occasional NBC ″Today″ show host, was the commencement speaker at Southern Mississippi University, his alma mater.

In Nashville, Navy Adm. Frank Kelso II, commander of the Atlantic Fleet, urged 67 seniors from Vanderbilt and Tennessee State universities to ″make sure the Stars and Stripes continue to fly.″

At Rice University in Houston on Saturday, school president George Rupp wished graduates ″personal satisfaction and joy and abundance, but may your lives also allow for participating in community and causes that liberate your from the prison of self-preoccupations.″

In De Kalb, Ill., 45-year-old Jean Donnelly Herbert, the 1962 Miss Illinois, received her college degree in fulfilling a promise to finish school, one she made to her father 25 years ago.

Mrs. Herbert earned a bachelor’s degree in home and family resources with honors from Northern Illinois University. She maintained a straight-A average.

″It’s been incredible, the most difficult thing I’ve tried to accomplish,″ said Mrs. Herbert, who now has her sights on law school.