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Pat and Lou Sisbarro to receive honorary degree at NMSU?s fall commencement

For 35 years, Pat and Lou Sisbarro have called Las Cruces home. The couple raised three children, built a successful company and became active in the community since moving from Michigan in 1981.


Woman?s headshot.
Pat Sisbarro will receive an honorary degree at New Mexico State University?s fall Commencement ceremony. (Courtesy photo)
Man?s headshot.
Lou Sisbarro will receive an honorary degree at New Mexico State University?s fall Commencement ceremony. (Courtesy photo)

For their commitment and service to New Mexico State University, the Sisbarros will be recognized as the honorary degree recipients at NMSU?s fall commencement Dec. 10.

?Pat and Lou Sisbarro are two of NMSU?s greatest champions. For years, they have devoted their time and support to causes that benefit this great university, to the benefit of our students and the greater Las Cruces community,? said NMSU Chancellor Garrey Carruthers.

From humble beginnings in New Jersey, the couple feels they are living the American dream.

?If we can do it, anybody can do it. It?s hard work, determination, draw that line and go for it,? Lou said. ?I knew we were going to be successful. There?s no doubt in my mind. I don?t think we had any idea we would reach the level we?ve reached.?

?Lou always says the harder I work, the luckier I get,? Pat said. ?And it?s true. We have worked very hard. We didn?t really have anything when we started, but we stayed focused, seven days a week, 24/7, there wasn?t a 40-hour week. We started off as owners, which meant we were janitors, sales people, and management. Lou would often come home for dinner with our children and return to the dealership to put in additional hours. It?s hard work, but when you have a goal in mind and you keep your eyes on that prize and you work toward it, anything is possible.?

In the summer of 1981, the Sisbarros purchased a General Motors dealership, Sisbarro Buick-Pontiac-GMC. Four years later, the couple opened Sisbarro Volkswagen, and in 1995, they launched Sisbarro Chevrolet-Cadillac-Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep and expanded to Deming.

With a number of used car operations, the Sisbarros, who have been married for 52 years, also own and operate a tire and accessories store in Las Cruces. Lou is president of the Sisbarro dealerships in Las Cruces and Deming, and Pat is the vice president and chief marketing officer for the Sisbarro dealerships.

After focusing on moving to the Southwest, the Sisbarros said NMSU was an important factor in their decision on where to relocate.

?Back in 1980 when we trying to think where we wanted to live and where we were going to start our business, looking back we absolutely made the right choice,? Pat said. ?This is home and this is where we like to be.?

?And how lucky we are to have made that choice,? Lou added.

In 2007, Pat spearheaded the establishment of NMSU Aggies Are Tough Enough to Wear Pink, breast cancer awareness and fundraising campaign. A cancer survivor and one of the original co-chairs, Pat continues to co-chair the initiative, which has raised more than $5 million cash and in kind to fund nationally recognized cancer research conducted at NMSU and the University of New Mexico. NMSU TETWP is the largest event of its kind in the world.

?I heard recently and it resonated, the first half of your life you are working for yourself and to succeed and the second half of your life you work to give back and to help other people. When I think back about our lives, I think that we have done that,? Pat said.

In January 2015, the couple made two transformational gifts to NMSU. The first gift established the Pat and Lou Sisbarro Current Use Fund. The gift ?supports excellence at New Mexico State University? and will allow the university to fund important initiatives over the next five years such as matching scholarship dollars for the 2016 Giving Tuesday event. The second donation created a substantial legacy gift, which will provide resources for NMSU to continue serving future generations of Aggies.

?I think involvement in the community, not only civic community but the university community, is very important,? Lou said.

In March 2015, NMSU unveiled the Pat and Lou Sisbarro Community Park, which features a running trail and exercise stations just east of Aggie Memorial Stadium. The park was named for the couple in recognition of their continued generosity and dedication to the university and Las Cruces community. The park fulfilled Pat and Lou?s vision of creating a space for the community to visit and use the resources on the NMSU campus.