Alumni News and Information Page


Then....During the mid 1940s, classmate boys were just turning 10-11 years old without an allowance available from mom and dad. So, to earn some money there were choices ranging from mowing lawns; selling popcorn, peanuts and Crackerjacks at the Champaign County Fair, or delivering evening newspapers after each school day for The Courier or The News-Gazette. The Courier paid more, but The News-Gazette had more routes. I decided to deliver The News-Gazette during 1946, 1947, 1948 and 1949. I had the largest route in Champaign of 189 papers, which took about 1-1/2 hours to deliver. The paper route taught me to be responsible, be on time, be courteous, and be respectful. Also, I met the public and, of course, I had to collect on Friday to pay my bill on Saturday downtown at The News-Gazette carrier window. Along the way, the Courier folded and The News-Gazette was the only local newspaper.

Now....Some years ago The News-Gazette management decided to change distribution of the newspaper from evening delivery, referred to as a "paper route," and the morning, referred to as a "motor route." This meant 10–11-year-old boys would not be delivering papers. Over the past years The News-Gazette has had a difficult time finding drivers, which has affected dependable delivery. Beginning Monday, February 12, The News-Gazette will be delivered via the U.S. Postal Service, which currently has its own delivery problems. On Saturdays, the paper will be a combined Saturday-Sunday newspaper, the Weekend Edition. No Sunday paper for the first time in my lifetime. This distribution by mail requires less management decisions. No more paperboy.

Submitted by Phil Matteson
February 11, 2024


Phyllis L. (Lichtenwalter) Keagle, 88, of Monticello, passed away Monday, February 5, 2024 at home. She was born November 4, 1935 in Windsor to Lawrence Chester and Rena Belle (Nesbit) Lichtenwalter. She married Clarence Ray Keagle on February 26, 1958 in Champaign. Phyllis is survived by her husband, two sons, six grandchildren, and 17 great-grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her parents and a brother. Phyllis was a retired nurse and a member of the Monticello Christian Church. She enjoyed cooking, painting, flowers, and spending time with her family. A graveside service will be Friday, February 9, at Grandview Memorial Gardens, Champaign. Memorials may be given to an organization of the donor's choice. Condolences may be sent to the family at

Phyllis graduated from Champaign Junior High School in 1950, where she was in homeroom 9-2 and sang in Girls Glee Club. At Champaign High School, with the Class of 1953, she was a member of Wig 'n' Paint, the Dramatic Club of CHS that produced major plays, which earned her membership in National Thespians. Also, she participated in Girls Athletic Association all three years, was a member of Commercial Club in her junior year, serving as club President in her senior year, and helped on the Junior-Senior Prom Committee. The caption with her senior picture in the yearbook reads...."She is quiet—unlike most girls."
(Source: The 1953 Maroon, page 31)

Submitted by Phil Matteson
February 7, 2024


Keith K. Whited, 89, of Champaign, died Tuesday, December 5, 2023, at home. Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. Tuesday February 6, 2024 at Danville National Cemetery, 1900 E. Main St., Danville. Military rites will be accorded for the Army veteran. Owens Funeral Home, 101 N. Elm St., Champaign, is in charge. (Published by The News-Gazette on Feb. 2, 2024.)

Keith was the son of Truman T. and Hazel C. Whited. He moved with his parents and brothers from Streator in 1949 to 213 West John Street. His father was a machinist at C.S. Johnson Company. (Source: Champaign and Urbana City Directory 1950)

Keith graduated from Champaign Junior High School in 1950. (Source: The 1950 Retro)

He graduated from Champaign High School with the Class of 1953, where he sang in A Capella Choir, along with playing football and running track. At the annual Elks banquet for the football team, Keith was a "C" letter winner to become a C Club member all three years at CHS. In his senior year, he played both Linebacker on defense and the lone senior Fullback on offense. (Source: The CHS Maroon)


In the CHS-Danville game, Keith Whited and several teammates are shown here stopping a Danville runner, but DHS went on to win 13-7. (Source: The Champaign Chronicle, October 17, 1952)

Keith indicated his future plans after CHS graduation as follows: "Hope to get an industrial job this summer. Plan to enter the U of I in Industrial Designing. If Uncle Sam drafts me, I will have to serve. If I enlist, it would be in the Air Force." (Source: The Champaign Chronicle, Friday, May 22, 1953) In 1954, Keith was a Draftsman at C. S. Johnson; in 1955, a U of I student; in 1959-1961, a Fabricator at Creative Builders; in 1962-1966, a U of I student; in 1967-1968 an Apprentice at Jones Optical; in 1971-1974 an employee at Leichner Manufacturing, and in 1975-1999 self-employed. (Source: Champaign and Urbana City Directory 1954-1999)
In his younger days, besides tinkering with cars, Keith liked to dance to Big Band music, which had him taking his date to the Champaign Moose Lodge, or driving to Keller's Ramada Inn in Effingham.
Keith attended many of our class reunions. Also, on April 30, 2010, he attended, along with some other CHS 1953 classmates, the dinner when Tommy Stewart received the Community Builder Award at the local 2010 Masonic Awards Banquet. On a personal note....I want to think that Keith had the ability to have a rewarding career. However, after studying with the John Birch Society, and working on the "Let Freedom Ring" project for over 45 years, his time was devoted to this cause, along with attending monthly National Rifle Association meetings. The caption with his senior picture in the CHS yearbook reads...."Says what he means, and means what he says." (Source: The 1953 Maroon, page 40)

Submitted by Phil Matteson
January 21, 2024


Nancy Ann (Klopfenstein) Davis, 88, of McKinney, Texas, formerly of Champaign, died peacefully Tuesday, December 26, 2023 in Plano, Texas. Nancy was born September 20, 1935 in Champaign to Marjorie and Fred Klopfenstein. She graduated from Champaign High School and attended Stephens College and the University of Illinois. She married Ivan W. "Terry" Davis (CHS 1950) on April 14, 1956. Nancy served on the Board of Directors of Cunningham Children's Home in Urbana, and the American Red Cross. She was also a member of the Champaign-Urbana Junior League, Faith United Methodist Church in Champaign, and First United Methodist Church in Richardson, Texas. In 2001, Nancy and Terry moved to McKinney to be closer to their grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her husband, Terry, and her sister, Freda. Nancy is survived by two daughters and sons-in-law, Diane (CHS 1980) and Chip Robinson, and Jennifer (CHS 1984) and John Mathis; two grandsons; two granddaughters; one great-granddaughter; a nephew, Fred Ebert (CHS 1961); and a niece, Ellen Ebert Mennenga. Graveside services will be Saturday, January 6, at Sparkman/Hillcrest Funeral Home, 7405 West Northwest Highway, Dallas, Texas. The family would like to thank the caregivers at Freedom Hospice. Memorials may be made to Cunningham Children's Home, 1301 North Cunningham Avenue, Urbana, IL 61802, or the Alzheimer's Association.
(Source: The News-Gazette, Sunday, December 31, 2023)

During her grade school and high school days, Nancy lived with her parents and sister at 1008 West John Street. Her father was President of Champaign Builders Supply Co. (Source: Champaign and Urbana City Directory, 1950.) After attending Southside Grade School, Nancy graduated from Champaign Junior High School in 1950, where she was in Homeroom 9-6, sang in Girls Glee Club, and participated in Drama Club.
(Source: The 1950 Retro)

She graduated from Champaign High School with the Class of 1953. During her years at CHS, Nancy was on the Maroon yearbook staff; active member in Wig 'n' Paint, the dramatic club, being Vice-President in her senior year; member of National Thespians, the Honorary level for dramatics accepted from Wig 'n' Paint club participation; participated in Girls' Athletic Association, earning her "C" letter in each year at CHS; a charter member of Future Teachers of America, a new club in 1952; learned about office work duties in Office Help club, and helped on the Junior-Senior Prom Committee. The caption with her senior picture in the yearbook reads...."Good things come in small packages."
(Source: The 1953 Maroon, page 30)

Submitted by Phil Matteson
December 31, 2023


Roger and Jeanette (Hieser) Sphar of Mahomet, celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary at a private dinner party with their children and grandchildren. They were married December 11, 1958 at Gibson City Bible Church. They have three children, seven grandchildren, and one great grandchild. Roger retired as a carpenter foreman from the University of Illinois in 1990 after 35 years of service. He also served in the National Guard for six years, and has been a member of Carpenters Local 44 for 68 years. Jeanette worked at Bacon & VanBuskirk, Cole Hospital, and then retired from the Christie Clinic Ophthalmology Department after 15 years of service.
(Source: The News-Gazette, Wednesday, December 13, 2023)

Submitted by Phil Matteson
December 17, 2023


Thomas N. Hammersmith, 88, of Champaign , Illinois, passed away on Thursday, November 16, 2023 at Carle Hospital with his family by his side. He was born July 21, 1935 in Champaign, the son of Charles and Laura Hammersmith. He married Bernadean Mullen (CHS 1958) on March 21, 1959. Tom is survived by one son, Craig, (CHS 1984); two daughters, Leslie (CHS 1988), and Tracy (CHS 1989); a granddaughter; a niece; a nephew; long-time friends Don and Mercedes Jones, and special friend Amy Butler. He was preceded in death by his parents, his wife, a sister, a brother, and two nephews. Tom graduated from Champaign High School in 1954. He was an electrician, retiring from the University of Illinois. He enjoyed meeting his long-time friends and classmates for lunch at Old Orchard Lanes. He enjoyed bowling, golf, and fishing. He was active in IBEW 601, American Legion Post 71, 40&8, and C-U Elks. Tom honorably served in the U.S. Navy from 1954-1957. Graveside service will be held on Friday, November 24, at 1:00 p.m. at Roselawn Cemetery, and a Celebration of Life will be held on Monday, December 4, 2023 at Old Orchard Lanes, Savoy, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
(Source: Morgan Memorial Home, Tuesday, November 21, 2023)

Tom attended Col. Wolfe Grade School where he had no problem getting to school each day, because he lived only a block west of school on Healey Street. He delivered Champaign-Urbana Courier papers on a route in the old Campus area. Tom graduated from Champaign Junior High School in 1950, where he was in Homeroom 9-6, and his Activity Club participation was in Boys' Sports. (Source: The 1950 Retro) Tom continued schooling at Champaign High School. However, for some overlooked reason early in 1953, he learned that he was short a credit to graduate with the Class of 1953. Therefore, he had to take an additional course to then graduate with the Class of 1954. I listed him in our Class of 1953 Directory, and talked him into attending our class reunions instead of 1954 reunions, but he attended both. On a personal note, Tom and I never had much of an occasion during high school to have a conversation, because we were never in the same homeroom, and he took shop classes. Because of our mutual interest in old cars, classmates Tom, Charles Cremeens, and myself were members in 1961 of a newly-formed Champaign Chapter of the Horseless Carriage Club of America. Later in the 1960s, our mutual interest took place at Old Orchard Lanes in Savoy, when I talked to Tom as I finished bowling in the early league, and Tom was arriving to bowl in the 9:00 p.m. late league. The bowling alley became a good place for a group lunch on a come-and-go basis. Over the years we were joined by classmates Terry O'Neill (deceased), Don Maxwell, Richard Rohr, Bob Slade, and Shirley (Hausman) Schweighart. During the 1990s, Donna and I enjoyed having conversations with Tom and Bernadean each fall at the pork chop dinner in Sadorus at the First Methodist Church.

Submitted by Phil Matteson
November 22, 2023


William "Bill" Dean Fleming, 88, of Monticello, passed away on Wednesday, October 4, 2023. Bill was born in Normal, Illinois, on September 26, 1935, to William G. and Geraldine I. Fleming. He married his best friend, Anita Joann Harrell, on June 19, 1960, in Champaign. Bill and Anita were the parents of two sons, blessed with six grandchildren. Bill is survived by two sisters, a brother, a sister-in-law, and eighteen nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, a sister, a sister-in-law, and a niece. Bill graduated from Champaign High School and began working in the family printing business, Fleming Printing Co., where he learned his trade as an offset print pressman. He was a member of the International Printing and Graphing Communication Union. He worked for numerous local printing companies for 50 years and retired from Carle Printing Services in 2013. He then worked as a courier for Ragle Dental Lab before his final retirement in 2015 at the age of 80. Early in life, Bill learned the building trade and built three homes and remodeled several others. He became a beekeeper in the late 1970s and sold award-winning honey under his business, Blue Ribbon Apiary. He was a member of the Eastern Illinois Beekeepers Assn. Bill enjoyed Illinois football and basketball, spending time with his grandchildren, fast cars, and listening to Blue Grass and Country music. He served as an Elder in several local Christian churches. A celebration of life service will be held at Monticello Christian Church at 10:00 a.m. October 13, 2023. Condolences may be sent to the family at
(Source: The News-Gazette, Sunday, October 8, 2023)

Bill graduated from Champaign Junior High School in 1950, where he was in Homeroom 9-4, and sang in the Boys' Glee Club. (Source: The 1950 Retro) He went on to graduate from Champaign High School in 1953. The caption with his senior picture in the yearbook reads...."A friendly fellow."
(Source: The 1953 Maroon, page 26)

In 1958, our Reunion Committee was planning our very first class reunion. Our reunion announcement letter going to 200 classmates was a project for a print shop in 1958, as opposed to running copies from a copy machine today. So, I went to Fleming Printing and Bill helped print our first reunion invitation and reservation letter. Bill attended a few of our early reunions.

Submitted by Phil Matteson
October 9, 2023


THEN....Back in the summer of 1958, some CHS 1953 class members were making plans for our first class reunion after five years. It was difficult to locate classmates, because many had not settled down, and many guys were in military service after being drafted or enlisted. A reunion committee consisting of James C. Smith (deceased), Margaret (Clabaugh) LeGrande, and Betty Lou (Baker) Shafer (deceased) handled reservations, and Jim Neal handled the money. Committee member, Richard Nesmith, was able to provide, at no cost, the AMVETS location at 203 West Hill Street because his dad was a member. The committee planned a Friday night event. On November 1, 1958, we attended, as a group cheering section, the Champaign vs. Urbana football game at Urbana. A pre-game party at the AMVETS was the gathering place to get re-acquainted. "Over 7,000 fans watched Urbana's powerful Tigers hand CHS its first loss in their last 27 games. Champaign 0 - Urbana 19."
(Source: The 1958 Maroon, page 116)

NOW...For decades, the address at 203 West Hill Street in Champaign was home to the AMVETS, an organization of veterans serving their fellow veterans and community. In 2020, a local developer purchased the property with the intent to re-purpose the building into apartments. In 2023, the First United Methodist Church, whose property is adjacent to the AMVETS, purchased the property and plans to tear down the building and create a playground and have age-appropriate play structures for its day care center.
(Source: The News-Gazette, Saturday, August 26, 2023)

Submitted by Phil Matteson
September 4, 2023


Dear 1953 CHS Classmates,
I reflect back to my school days, and sure thankful that I am not attending High school in today's environment. I want to thank all my teachers for sharing their knowledge and putting up with us over the years.
At graduation time, I was looking forward to a new job at Illinois Bell. I started 2 weeks after graduation and spent over 32 years with the Bell System.
Best to all, we have had a good life,
Harold Keller

Dear 1953 CHS Classmates
It has been a joy to be able to click into information about former classmates and friends.
I especially want to thank Harold Keller and Phillip Matteson for all the work they have put into keeping classmates in touch with each other.
Wishing all good health, happiness and peace.
Suzanne (Maley) Sullivan

Dear 1953 CHS Classmates,
On a personal note, I truly miss our in-person reunions to renew friendships. I am thankful for the elementary, high school, and college education I received from the teachers of our time in the Champaign school system and at the U of I. I am told that I live in the past. Well, during this aging process, I find much contentment thinking about the wholesome times of our youth and maturing years, compared to the unknown future of being 90 in a few years. One of my life's theme songs is "Lost in the '50s Tonight."
Yes...I graduated from CJHS in 1950, talked to a girl named Donna Schum for the first time at a Columbus Day dance in 1951, graduated from CHS in 1953, graduated from U of I in 1957, completed Army active duty in 1958 (I was a 6-month wonder), started my accounting career at an accounting firm in 1958, and married Donna in 1959...all right here in Champaign during the '50s. Best wishes to all, and stay in touch.
Phil Matteson

Hi, Harold — Thanks for your dedication and persistence in keeping the ’53 class members — that is, those still with us — informed on each other and reminded of many good old times at CHS. You and Phil are amazing and I hope doing well.
Best to you, John Wilson

Dear 1953 CHS Classmates
Many thanks for the "Special Determination Award!" It was a delightful surprise. We miss not having an in-person reunion, but certainly understand that the Reunion Committee classmates have earned a well-deserved "retirement" from their years of wonderful service to the Class.
Hank Hatch


At our last 65th reunion in 2018, it was announced that our reunion tradition was accomplished. Many classmates attended each reunion wherever the venue. Other CHS classes stopped after their 50th, 60th and 65th reunion.


On this weekend of July 29-30, 2023, we are having our CHS 1953 70th Class Reunion on our class website. No need to jump in your car or make any reservations. Just take a moment to reflect back 70 years that created memories and life-time friendships. If you desire to participate with a memory, just send your comments to:

REMEMBER...Before each football and basketball game, we proudly stood and sang..."Sing a Song for Champaign."
REMEMBER...One of the first things to consider to begin the school year was to buy a Student Activity Ticket for $5.75 on a Time Payment Plan $2.00 down with 50 cents weekly, or pay full price. (Source: Champaign Chronicle, September 8, 1952 No. 1)

REMEMBER...The weaker sex was in power at CHS back in 1952-53. CHS total enrollment was 785 with 370 boys and 415 girls.(Source: Champaign Chronicle September 19, 1952 No. 2)

REMEMBER...There was an early deadline to buy your 1953 Maroon for $3.50. Then, after the deadline it was $4.00. (Source: Champaign Chronicle October 31, 1952 No. 7)

REMEMBER...The Donkey basketball game was played in the CJHS gym. The admission price for students was only 50 cents. (Source: Champaign Chronicle February 13, 1953 No. 18)

REMEMBER...Our graduation site was determined after votes of 148 seniors out of our class of 219. The majority, 119 voters, balloted to graduate outside on the CHS west playground, while 29 wanted the inside CJHS gym site. (Source: Champaign Chronicle February 27, 1953 No. 20)

REMEMBER...Student Council sponsored a "signing party" on the day the Maroon yearbooks were distributed. The party took place on the west playground, where refreshments were served and pens and blotters were provided. (Source: Champaign Chronicle May 22, 1953 No. 30)


On the occasion of our 70th reunion, a special "Determination Award" is being awarded to classmate Hank Hatch.
During April 1953, before our graduation, Henry "Hank" Hatch passed his West Point entrance exams at Ft. Sheridan in Chicago. The exams lasted three days and consisted of 1-1/2 hours of algebra and trigonometry, 1-1/2 hours of English and literature, 2 hours of the West Point Mental Aptitude test, 1-1/2 hours of physical and aptitude tests, and 6 hours of more physical tests.
After CHS graduation, on July 3, Hank will leave Champaign on July 5 to report at West Point on July 7. (Source: Champaign Chronical May 1, 1953 No. 27)

Our class is definitely a part of CHS history, for which we can all be proud.
Submitted by Phil Matteson
July 29, 2023


"Proudly shout her name...." Our CHS alma mater had a banner year on the athletic fields and venues during 2022-23. The CHS Maroons won The News-Gazette Program of the Year honor for the first time since the honor was first handed out in 2005. The Maroons run to the top started with volleyball, baseball, and soccer teams, followed by swimming and diving, plus tennis. The Maroons topped the list of 46 high schools, with Urbana ranked at 12, and Uni High at 17.
(Source: The News-Gazette, Sunday, July 16, 2023)

Submitted by Phil Matteson
July 23, 2023

At last! On a warm Wednesday, June 3, 1953 evening, on the West playground of CHS at 8:00 p.m., we graduated as a group to be the Class of 1953 from Champaign High School. We learned from each other in preparation for adulthood. During those education years we formed a special circle of friends that created lifetime friendships.

Sadly, when we lose a classmate, our circle becomes smaller. Our total group to graduate was considered to be 215, and we have learned that 118 classmates have been lost to date. During the past 70 years, our classmates have covered the country from states of Washington to California to New York to Florida and in-between.

For 65 years we periodically gathered in Champaign for a class reunion. On our 70th anniversary, we now must visit on our website.

Best wishes to each classmate. Website Reunion Committee
June 1, 2023

The Champaign Chronicle dated May 22, 1953


Louie F. Mays, 86, of Oakland, IL passed away Saturday, October 29, 2022, at Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center. He was born on November 9, 1935 in Champaign to Louie F. Mays, Sr. and Irma G. (Walker/Mays) Owen. At the age of 29, he married the love of his life, Sharon Kay Watson of Oakland on October 4, 1968. Lou always lived life to the fullest and was always ready for an adventure. He loved board games, fishing, and spending time with his entire family. He had a huge sense of humor and the best laugh! He has left his family with only the best of memories. He was preceded in death by his wife, parents, step-father, Robert Owen, and a brother. He is survived by three children and eight grandchildren. In accordance with Lou's wishes, he was cremated and there will be no services. For online condolences, go to
(Source: The News-Gazette, Wednesday, November 2, 2022)

Louie lived with his parents on Harwood Court off John Street, and attended Lincoln Grade School. He graduated from Champaign Senior High School with the class of 1953. During his time at CHS, he was baseball manager, participated in track, and achieved membership in "C" Club. The quotation with his name in the Maroon yearbook reads..."What would the teams do without him?"
(Source: The 1953 Maroon, page 32)

Submitted by Phil Matteson
November 6, 2022


* November 11, 1920 was when the first football game was played at McKinley Field, where there was nothing but cornfields.
* In 1968-69, Unit 4 School District added a new high school with CHS, and included ninth grade as a part of high school. All football games are now going to be played on the new high school field, which was named Tommy Stewart Field, even though Tommy neither coached or taught at the new school.
* In 2016, Champaign voters approved a $183.4 million referendum, which ended up well over $240.0 million. As part of the referendum, the McKinley Field project was a $7.1 million renovation.
* On October 11, 2018, after passage of the referendum, the City of Champaign and the Unit 4 School District entered into an inter-governmental agreement that stated CHS can use the renovated McKinley Field for athletic and educational events, except for varsity football, because of neighbor concerns of "excessive traffic and parking demand" along with lack of streetlights.
* On July 16, 2020, with the McKinley Field renovation basically complete, the CHS football coach stated he would like to see CHS play a Saturday afternoon game there.
* On February 25, 2022, a CHS Booster Club dad asked Unit 4 to allow the CHS team to play one game at McKinley Field on a Saturday afternoon this upcoming season. The opponent was later named to be Urbana. (Imagine...after 55 years a Champaign vs. Urbana football game at McKinley Field!)
* On July 11, 2022, Unit 4 School Board gives a 6-0 vote to explore an amendment to the inter-governmental agreement to allow a varsity game.
* On August 10, 2022...Poof!! Urbana announced that the school would not field a varsity football team, because the roster numbers did not include enough senior players to safely support a varsity season.
* On September 13, 2022, the game was green-lit with CHS playing a to-be-named opponent after a 5-3 vote by the Champaign City Council.
* On September 24, 2022, after the CHS Athletic Director found a replacement opponent, the game was played, making it a very memorable event. The opponent was ranked No.4 in the State. Final score: Wheaton St. Francis 69, CHS 14. Where are CHS coaches like Fred Majors and Tommy Stewart with winning records?

Submitted by Phil Matteson October 9, 2022


Martha Lou (Roper) Allen, 87, passed away on Monday, April 4, 2022, at Illini Heritage Rehab & Healthcare in Champaign. She was born on June 26, 1934, in Centralia, Illinois, to Roy and Ada Mae Roper. Martha married Percy Edward Allen on December 19, 1952. Martha is survived by a daughter, six grandchildren, several great-grandchildren, and her dog, Cooper. She was preceded in death by her parents, husband, a son, a granddaughter, and four siblings. Martha loved animals. She had a pet pony named Tony when she was young, and had many dogs and cats throughout her lifetime. Martha loved spending time with her grandchildren, and attended all of their sports, games and activities. A celebration of Martha's life was held April 10, 2022 at Sunset Funeral Home and Cremation Center in Champaign. Internment was held at Danville National Cemetery. Memorial donations may be made in Martha's name to Champaign County Humane Society.
(Source: Sunset Funeral Home and Cremation Center, April 4, 2022)

During her growing-up days, Martha lived with her parents at 410 East Eureka Street, during which time her father passed away in 1950 when she was 16 years old. After finishing grade school, Martha attended Champaign Junior High School from 1948-1950, where in ninth grade she was in homeroom 9-7 and participated in Girls Glee Club, Future Homemakers of America, and the Knitting Club. At Champaign Senior High School, from 1951-1953, Martha was a member of the Library staff, and active in the Future Distributors of America Club, which involved working during the school day away from school, meaning she earned money and was given a grade by her employer. The caption with her senior picture in the yearbook reads...."Trouble and I have never met."
(Source: The 1953 Maroon, page 36)
Martha did not attend any class reunions, but provided information for the CHS Alumni Directory 2008 that she was a retired associate from Jewel Foods of in retail that, being a member of FDA in high school, she was prepared to accomplish.

Submitted by Phil Matteson
Sunday, April 24, 2022


James "Jim" L. Phillips, 86, of Champaign, died Tuesday, November 30, 2021, surrounded by his family. There will be a graveside funeral service at 11:00 a.m. Monday, December 13, at Bailey Cemetery, Tolono. Owens Funeral Home is assisting the family with arrangements. Jim was born May 6, 1935, to Verne and Margaret (Reis) Phillips. He married Nancy Cooper on June 1, 1958 in Champaign. Together, they had three children. Jim honorably served in the Illinois National Guard. He is survived by his wife of 63 years, two sons, one daughter, four grandchildren, and one great-grandson. Jim enjoyed cars so much that his professional and personal life was devoted to them. He started working in the parts department of Sullivan Chevrolet when he was in high school and retired as the parts manager 43 years later. Jim was a founding member of the Charioteers Car Club, and could usually be found working under a car in his own garage. Condolences may be offered at
(Source: The News-Gazette, Sunday, December 5, 2021)

Jimmy came from the Champaign grade school system like most of us, to be a classmate at Champaign Junior High School from 1948 - 1950, where he was in homeroom 9-6, served as a Patrol Boy, and participated in the Photography Club.
(Source: The 1950 Retro)

He continued being a classmate at Champaign Senior High School from 1951 - 1953. The caption with his senior picture in the yearbook reads..."Let the world slide by, I'll not move an inch."
(Source: The 1953 Maroon)

Submitted by Phil Matteson
December 5, 2021


Sharon (Lappin) Lumsden was born on July 27, 1935 at Carle Foundation Hospital, Urbana, and passed away Saturday evening, November 13, 2021. She was the wife of Robert (Bob) Lumsden, daughter of Kenneth and Margaret Lappin, and mother of Paul Lumsden. She is survived by her husband, son, two granddaughters, a brother and a sister-in-law. She was preceded in death by her parents and a brother. Sharon attended Dr. Howard Grade School, Champaign Junior High School, and Champaign Senior High School, Class of 1953. She graduated with honors from the University of Illinois in 1957, with a degree in Art Education. She taught art for five years at a K-8 in Skokie from 1958 to 1962, and completed a Master of Fine Arts in Art Education at the U of I in 1963. Sharon was past president of C-U Tri-Delta Alumnae and the C-U Herb Society. She authored "Green Byways," a book about garden discoveries in the Great Lakes states. She was an avid Illini sports fan. She enjoyed bird watching during extensive domestic and international travel. Australia was a favorite destination. She loved herb gardening, swimming, and crocheting, where she could play with colors and textures she so enjoyed during her 25-year career as a weaver of limited-edition women's garments. In recent years, she donated nearly 1,000 warm crocheted items to various local charitable programs. There will be a celebration of life at a later date.
(Source: The News-Gazette, Wednesday, November 17, 2021)

At CJHS, from 1948-1950, Sharon was in homeroom 9-6 and was numbered among the "Banner Kids," who played an important part in the activities of the ninth grade in 1950. She was one of nine members (all girls) to be in the National Junior Honor Society for 1950. Her student activities included: Student Council, Editor-in-Chief of the Highlights, Girls Glee Club, and Bureau of Decorations.

At CHS, from 1951-1953, Sharon was very involved during her sophomore, junior and senior years, which included: Student Council, National Honor Society, Junior Class Secretary, Maroon Art Editor, Chronicle Staff, Quill and Scroll National Honor Society for working in journalism, GAA, Maroonafins, the advanced swimming club for girls, A Capella Choir, Vocalettes, Madrigals, Baton Club for participation in musical activities, and Junior-Senior Prom Committee. Sharon attended some of our early class reunions when her health permitted. The quotation with her senior class picture in the yearbook reads...."With her art she's very clever, what she draws will live forever."
(Source: The 1953 Maroon, page 30)

Submitted by Phil Matteson
November 21, 2021


THEN....October 31, 1952 was the date for the annual big crosstown football game between the Champaign Maroons and Urbana Tigers, with CHS winning the last nine games, Coach Fred Major announced his starting lineup:

LE Koch-------LT Foster------LG Murdock------C Hull------RG Stayton------RT Dickson------RE Gabbard

------------------------------------------------------QB Schrader-------------------------------------------

-----------------------LH Beu-----------------------------------------------------RH W. Whited----------------

---------------------------------------------------FB K. Whited---------------------------------------------

The captain of the winning team will be presented with the reversible blanket trophy. It is the policy for the sports editor of The Chronicle to present the blanket to the winner. This year of 1952, the blanket will be awarded by Don Scott, Sports Editor.
(Source: The Champaign Chronicle, Friday, October 31, 1952, Vol. XXVII, No. 7)

In 1952, Urbana came to Champaign with one of the strongest teams in their school history, compared to one of the weaker Champaign teams. But, because of injuries in the Urbana starting lineup, the Maroons went into the game as the favorite. Urbana scored first. In fact, UHS scored the first three touchdowns compared to none for CHS. With the score 26-0, late in the fourth quarter, CHS went into their confusing spread. Schrader faded back and winged one to end Koch. The total coverage was 66 yards and a score. Powell's conversion was blocked. Final score: Champaign 6 - Urbana 26.
(Source: The 1953 Maroon, page 97)

NOW....September 17, 2021 was the date for the annual big crosstown football game between CHS and UHS, a rivalry that started in 1894. However, just days prior to the game with CHS, the UHS coach cancelled the rest of their varsity football schedule for 2021. In their first two games of the season, UHS was outscored and outmanned bad, losing their last game 60-0. The UHS coach explained that he only had four seniors, with the rest of the team being under-classmen with no experience. CHS needed this win because they ended the season with a 2-7 record.

Submitted by Phil Matteson
October 31, 2021

P.S. - CHS varsity football games are no longer played at McKinley Field. Pursuant to an agreement with the City of Champaign, only freshmen and sophomore games are played at McKinley Field because of complaints from neighbors about traffic and noise. Varsity games are played at Tommy Stewart Field/Unit 4 Field at Champaign Centennial High School.


In 2020, the Colonel Wolfe Grade School building was declared surplus property by the University of Illinois Board of Trustees, who purchased the 116-year-old former Champaign Unit 4 school district property at 403 East Healey Street in 1964. Four potential buyers submitted proposals to purchase Colonel Wolfe. The winning bid came from the University Group, a Champaign-based apartment rental company for $2.5 million. The winning proposal had several important components:

A. Preserving the historical significance of the exterior of the building.
B. Agreeing to a covenant that prevents the building from being demolished.
C. Extensively renovating the interior to allow the building to again become a vibrant part of the community, and
D, Providing funding of $2.4 million to help address deferred maintenance.

The school was named for Col. John Simms Wolfe, who was instrumental in recruiting troops from the area during the Civil War.
(Source: The News-Gazette, Saturday, July 3, 2021)

With Dr. Howard Grade School building getting bulldozed three years ago, the title of oldest permanent school building in Champaign belongs to Edison Middle School (formerly Champaign Senior High School) at 306 West Green Street, Est. 1914...though it may not look like it on the inside. A $25.8 million make-over, the school's first significant update since the Eisenhower Administration, brought a new cafeteria, a new gym, renovated classrooms, a new HVAC system, and a much better view from the inside with new windows. The last renovation of the windows was with a couple feet of clear glass, and the rest was glass block. Now, there are clear views of the neighborhood and trees.
(Source: The News-Gazette, Sunday, September 5, 2021)

Thanks to the big bond issue passed by taxpayers about three years ago, the Champaign Maroons basketball team will start this coming 2021-2022 season in a new-and-improved gym.
(Source: The News-Gazette, Sunday, September 5, 2021)

Submitted by Phil Matteson
September 6, 2021


Back in 2017, the taxpayers (not me) of Champaign, passed a huge $183.4 million referendum for school building renovations, additions, and replacement pertaining to Central High School, Centennial High School, Dr. Howard Elementary, and Southside Elementary, along with a large amount of funds allocated for new football, baseball, track, soccer and softball facilities across the Unit 4 District. After three years of construction, the District Director of Capital Projects and Planning states that plenty remains unfinished. Right now, rooms meant for athletic activities are being used as temporary classrooms. Anxious to show taxpayers how their dollars have been spent during the past three years, even though the construction is incomplete, the District held open houses each day this past week. On Monday, May 17, the District conducted an open house at partially renovated Champaign Central High School, our old Champaign Junior High School. As part of a six-person tour group was CHS Class of 1953 classmate JR Stillwell.

CHAMPAIGN-As JR Stillwell meandered upstairs during Champaign Central's open house, looking at the new additions, 71 year-old memories came flooding back to him. Stillwell went to Junior High there, graduating in 1950, before the District made the switch with the building that is now Edison Middle School, and he states that some of the building looks similar. "I walked upstairs and said, I know where my seventh-grade homeroom and my ninth-grade homeroom were," Stillwell said. Parts of the building don't look much different than they did before the renovation. The colors in the old hallways remain the same, accented by new, brighter lighting.
(Source: The News-Gazette, Tuesday, May 18, 2021)

Submitted by Phil Matteson
May 23, 2021


Lois R. (Smith) Dunn, 86, of Champaign, passed away at home on Saturday, April 10, 2021, surrounded by family. Lois was born on August 23, 1934, in Champaign, to Ray and Gladys McMains Smith. She married Merle K. Dunn in September 1954. He preceded her in death August 19, 2014. She is survived by a daughter; a son; her twin sister, Louise (Lewis) Hill; five grandchildren; one step-grandchild, and eight great-grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her parents, a brother and a sister. Lois graduated from Champaign High School. She enjoyed her family, Wednesday shopping trips, and her Friday night dinner with her twin sister and brother-in-law. Lois worked at W. Lewis & Co. and then at Christie Clinic as a receptionist. She was the first President of the Exchangettes, the female version of the Exchange Club of Champaign. Visitation will be from 11:00 a.m. to noon Thursday, April 15, at Morgan Memorial Home, Savoy. Graveside services will follow at 1:00 p.m. at Grandview Memorial Gardens, Champaign. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Dementia Society of America or Carle Hospice. Condolences may be made at
(Source: The News-Gazette, Wednesday, April 14, 2021)

Lois entered Champaign Junior High School from Colonel Wolfe Grade School in 1947. During nineth grade, she was in homeroom 9-7. She was one of five cheerleaders chosen by CJHS students to work with Mrs. Donnabelle Kirby, the coach. In the 1949 Fall Review, Lois was a high-stepping dancer in the popular Can Can act. Also, she was in the Girls' Glee Club and worked as a Retro Staff helper.
(Source: The CJHS 1950 Retro)

At Champaign Senior High School, during 1950-1953, Lois participated by working on productions in the dramatics club, Wig 'n' Paint; played organized girl sports in G.A.A.; swam in the advanced swimming club for girls, Maroonafins; sang in A Capella Choir, and served on the Senior Class Skip Day Committee. The quotation with her senior picture in the yearbook reads...."So sweet, so pretty, she cannot live long---single."
(Source: The 1953 Maroon, page 38)

Submitted by Phil Matteson
April 14, 2021


The University of Illinois is looking for a buyer for the historic Colonel Wolfe School building in Champaign, and a local preservationist is concerned the structure could wind up being demolished. The U of I has advertised the 110-year-old former grade school at 403 East Healey Street as available for sale or swap, with offers due by December 21. The Colonel Wolfe School building is architecturally and historically significant according to Susan Appel, Vice-President of the Preservation and Conservation Association of Champaign County. The school building served as a public grade school until 1964. It is a handsome building, with a brown-brick facade set off by contrasting yellow brick work in diamond shapes and horizontal lines, Appel said. "It has an interesting exterior," she said. "It's not elaborate, but it has a lively quality." The building originally had eight classrooms, one in each corner of its two stories, and also has an attic and basement. The building was designed by Spencer & Temple, an architectural firm that also designed Columbia School in Champaign. The school itself was named for a local Civil War hero and lawyer, who was instrumental in raising troops from the area in 1861 and 1864. The appraised value of the property is not being disclosed.
(Source: The News-Gazette, Wednesday, December 2, 2020)

Submitted by Phil Matteson
December 13, 2020


Mary Ann (Stahl) Baker, 85, of Sun Lakes, Arizona, formerly of Champaign, passed away March 4, 2020 in Mesa, Arizona. She married Thorlow F. Baker on February 25, 1954, at the First Baptist Church in Champaign. Mary Ann worked nearly 40 years as a secretary/bookkeeper in Champaign. She was an avid reader and loved to knit and work on cross-stitch pictures. She was a member of the First Baptist Church in Champaign. Her husband was concrete ready-mix manager for Central Material Co. in Champaign from 1971 until retirement in 1993. After retiring, the Bakers' made their home in Sun Lakes. Mary Ann became a member of United Church of Christ in Sun Lakes. She was survived by her husband, one daughter, one son, four grandchildren, six great-grandchildren, and her brother, Richard (Valerie) Stahl, CHS 1949. Mary Ann was cremated and the immediate family celebrated her life in a private ceremony.
(Source: The News-Gazette, Sunday, December 6, 2020)

Mary Ann was very active during her high school years at Champaign Senior High School. In her junior year she was President of Student Council and attended the Illinois State Student Council Convention. She participated in A Capella Choir, Vocalettes, and Modernaires, being the piano accompanist. She also sang with Madrigals, played in Band, and earned Baton Club membership. She was on the Maroon and Chronicle staff, worked on dramatic productions in Wig 'n' Paint, and earned Honorary Member status in GAR. Also, she was involved with Stunt Show, Junior Red Cross, Junior-Senior Prom Committee, Senior Banquet Committee, and Tri-High Council, being chairman in her senior year. The caption with her senior picture in the yearbook reads...."Ah, yes, she has her sense of wit, and we often hear her use it."
(Source: The 1953 Maroon, page 38)

While living in Champaign, Mary Ann enjoyed attending our CHS 1953 class reunions. Upon moving to Sun Lakes, she maintained computer contact with her classmate friends.

Submitted by Phil Matteson
December 6, 2020


Lewis Gene Fincham passed away Sunday, November 1, 2020, at Arbor Rose, Monticello. Funeral services were held Wednesday, November 4, with Masonic rites by Western Star Lodge 240. Burial followed in Mount Olive Cemetery, Mayview, with military rites by American Legion Post 71, Urbana, and the United States Air Force. Gene was born August 4, 1934 in Champaign, the son of Earl H. and Reba M. (Kelley) Fincham. He married Mary Ellen Jester on August 27, 1971, in Champaign. He is survived by his wife, one daughter, and one granddaughter.

Gene graduated from Champaign High School in 1953. He served in the U.S. Air Force with his final assignment in Guam. After service, he worked for Illinois Central Railroad, retiring after 50 years. Gene was a two-gallon blood donor. He was a 50-year member of Western Star Masonic Lodge 240 AF&AM, 32-degree Valley of Danville Scottish Rite, ANSAR Shrine, Illini Shrine Club. He was a life member of American Legion Post 71, Urbana, a life member of VFW Post 5520, Champaign, and a life member of AMVETS Post 3, Champaign. He volunteered at Provena and Carle Foundation Hospitals. Also, he was a volunteer driver for the VA Hospital through the local VFW. Memorial contributions may be made to Shriners Hospitals for Children, 4400 Clayton Avenue, St. Louis, or the Champaign County Humane Society, 911 East Main Street, Urbana. Condolences may be offered at
(Source: The News-Gazette, November 3, 2020)

The caption with Gene's senior picture in the yearbook reads...."Never let your studies interfere with your education."
(Source: The 1953 Maroon, page 26)
Submitted by Phil Matteson
November 10, 2020


Tresa Lee (Peterson) Berry passed away August 12, 2020. She was born on February 16, 1935, in Champaign to Edwin Lee Peterson and Clara Inis Slade. Tresa relocated to California where she met Charles Phillip Berry in 1961, and they were married for thirty beautiful years. He preceded her in death in 1991. She never remarried. Tresa began her professional career at General Telephone in Illinois right after high school in 1953. She worked there for eight years until transferring to California, where she continued work with the company for five more years. After that, she became a stay-at-home mom and housewife to a large blended family. Chuck and Tresa relocated to Possum Kingdom Lake in Texas after Chuck's retirement in 1976. Tresa was a real estate agent for 13 years in the PK Lake area. Most recently, she worked at the PK Lake Welcome Center. She loved her real estate career. Tresa was an avid bowler for over 60 years, during which time she had two 600 series games. She was a member of the PK Lake Community Chuch. She volunteered for the USDA dispensing commodities for over a decade. She was often referred to as the "cheese lady" by many PK Lake residents. Tresa was preceded in death by her parents, two sons, two sisters and a brother. She is survived by three sons, two daughters, fourteen grandchildren and numerous great-grands. There are many friends and caregivers to thank for their immense help in recent years to do whatever was needed by Tresa. Tresa lived her life her way. She loved life, even through much tragedy and recent health struggles. She used to say, "my road was not always easy, but it was always worth it." The loss of her two sons were the holes in her heart that could never be filled. Still, Tresa stood strong and gave all the love in her heart to her family. She was an incredible example of competence, self-love and grit. She showed nothing but resilience in situations where most people would crumble. There will be a celebration of life at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, September 12, 2020, at Possum Kingdom Lake, Texas.
(Source: Baum-Carlock-Bumgardner Funeral Home, Mineral Wells, Tx 76067)

Tresa attended kindergarten and grade school in Champaign, graduating from Champaign Junior High School in 1950. During her three years at Champaign Senior High School, classmate Tresa enjoyed GAA, the organized sports club for girls; Maroonafins, the advanced swimming club for girls; participated in Library and Office Occupations; along with being corresponding secretary for Commercial Club, and working in afternoons of school days to broaden her outlook in the commercial world. The quote next to her senior picture in the yearbook reads...."The commercial world is her field for fame."
(Source: The 1953 Maroon)

Submitted by Phil Matteson
September 6, 2020

A CLASSMATE REMEMBERED (Wife of Harold Keller- webmaster)

Carole E.(Taylo) Keller, 82, of Centennial, CO passed away at Littleton Adventist Hospital on Sunday, August 9, 2020 She was born in August of 1937 at Burnham City Hospital in Champaign, IL to Charles E. and Violet Taylo.
Carole is preceded in death by her parents and brother Charles J. Taylo
She is survived by her husband Harold of 64 years and daughter Diane Keller-Coblentz of Clifton, CO.
She moved from Champaign in 1969 to Colorado Springs for 10 years before moving to Centennial, CO.
Carole volunteered in schools in Colorado Springs and worked as a Candy Striper at Penrose Hospital.
She retired as a teacher's assistant at Cherry Creek Schools.

She attended schools in Champaign and graduated from Champaign High School in 1955.
During her three years at Champaign Senior High School, she was active in music, A Capella, Vocalettes, Musical Moods, Pops Concert, and Stunt Show.The quotation with her senior picture in the yearbook reads…."Music has charm that soothes the savage heart."

Her interest along with Harold, was antique glass and attending glass shows across the United States.
She loved reading, working with elementary children and loved animals, birds and hiking the trails in Colorado.

Interment will be at a later date with her husband. A commitment "To be together forever".

Memorials may be given to the Friends of Arapahoe Libraries.

Submitted by Harold Keller
August 17, 2020


Word has been received that Theodore B. “Ted” Appel III, 84, died last December 24, 2019, surrounded by the family he loved. Born October 20, 1935 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, he graduated from Franklin & Marshall College in 1957, earned his medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1961, and underwent four years of specialty training at hospitals in Akron, Ohio. After two years of practice in Lancaster, he became a medical officer in the U.S. Army caring for patients at Fort Carson in Colorado Springs, Colorado. After service, he joined the Boulder Medical Center in 1969. He became president of the medical staff at Boulder Community Hospital and served on the board at Boulder Medical Center. Over the course of a 37-year medical career, he delivered more than 5,000 babies. Though he poured much of his energy into his work, he was also an avid outdoorsman. After retirement in 1996, he moved to Vail, Colorado, where he volunteered and taught at Vail Ski School. He had a deep personal faith and was a trustee at First Presbyterian Church. Ted knew Alzheimer’s would strip him of his memories, intellect and ability to control his own body, but accepted his fate with grace and gratitude for the many blessings in his life. He reminded his children of the family code….Do the best you can with what you’ve got. Ted is survived by his wife of 60 years, Deborah; sister Elizabeth Bailey; son Theodore IV; son James; daughter Elizabeth Burgess, and five grandchildren. The family is grateful for the staff at Sunrise Living of Boulder for the loving compassionate care they provided in the final 19 months of his life. A memorial service was held January 25, 2020, at First Presbyterian Church in Boulder.
(Source: Christ Mortuary & Cremation, Boulder, Colorado)

Ted played on the Dr. Howard Grade School basketball team in 1947. At CJHS from 1948-50, his ninth grade home room was 9-7, he played quarterback and lettered on the grid squad, he played guard for the Comet cagers, he played cornet in Band, and he served in the Bureau of Declamation service club. (Source: The 1950 Retro) At CHS, from 1951-53, Ted was very involved, mainly in sports, playing quarterback position in football, earning his letter which qualified him for “C” Club membership. Also, he participated in basketball, track, wrestling and golf. He played cornet in Orchestra and Band, holding membership in Baton Club, a club of the Music department. In addition, he was in the Camera Club, on the Speech Team, and was appointed to the Class Skip Day Committee, Commencement Speaker Committee, and Baccalaureate Committee. In his senior year, Ted maintained a 4.50 grade average which made him a member of the National Honor Society, the highest and most treasured honor a student can obtain while attending Champaign Senior High School. The quotation with his senior picture in the yearbook reads….”Nothing is hard to a willing mind.”
(Source: The 1953 Maroon, page 20)

Submitted by Phil Matteson
August 2, 2020


Robert L. “Bob” Selvey, age 85, of Madison, Wisconsin, passed away peacefully on Tuesday, July 14, 2020, at Agrace HospiceCare. He was born on April 20, 1935, at St. Mary’s Hospital in Clarksburg, W.V., the son of Robert and Mary (Meek) Selvey. Bob moved to Champaign with his parents during August 1952, where he graduated from Champaign High School in 1953. He graduated from the University of Illinois with a bachelor’s degree in marketing. He served in the U.S. Army until February 1959. On December 29, 1962, Bob married the love of his life, Beverly A. Heinz. His career employment over 25 years in Wisconsin included; in 1961, sales work for Marathon Corporation in Wausau; in 1967, account executive for WAOW-TV in Wausau; in 1969, account executive, sales manager, general manager and V.P. of Marketing for WKOW-TV channel 27 in Madison; and in 1985, general sales manager for WKBT-TV in LaCrosse. Bob became self-employed for the next 34 years when he moved back to Madison, and on October 1, 1986 opened a promotional products distributorship named Ad Specialty Enterprises. Bob was the past president of the Madison South Rotary Club and a Paul Harris Fellow. He loved playing golf, watching his grandchildren grow up and attending their activities. He was an avid Badgers, Packers and Brewers fan. He enjoyed being with his friends in the Madison area along with his loyal customers. He always looked forward to seeing his long-time Champaign High School friends at their class reunions.

Bob is survived by his wife of 57 years, Beverly; one son; two daughters; seven grandchildren, and his sister, Deborah (Carter) Smith. He was preceded in death by his parents and brother, Ronald Selvey. The public may visit with Bob’s family with a drive-by viewing from your car. Funeral services will be Monday, July 20, 2020 at Gunderson Funeral Home, Madison, WI. A private graveside service will be held at Roselawn Memorial Park in Madison. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the family for a fund to be established. Online condolences may be made at

Bob was a transfer from Washington, D.C. in 1952 at the start of our senior year at Champaign Senior High School. He immediately became involved playing basketball and baseball, participated in Hi-Y and was appointed to Senior Banquet Committee. The caption with his senior picture in the Maroon yearbook reads….”I love the ladies, they love me – I understand them perfectly.”
(Source: The 1953 Maroon, page 37)

On a personal note….When Bob moved to Champaign with his parents in 1952 and started his senior year at CHS, he immediately became friends with classmates Don Scott, Wally Heintzen and myself. Many memories come to mind of the foursome golf outings on the old U of I nine-hole golf course and on the longer more difficult course at Lake of the Woods. Of our group, Bob always had the low score. This friendship between Bob, Don, Wally and myself has covered 69 years with Christmas and birthday cards, along with special get-togethers at each class reunion. Sometimes, we would meet at Don’s home in Palatine to reminisce. In November 1959, Bob was an usher at my wedding when I married Donna. Today, more than ever, I am so grateful that Bob and Bev drove down from Madison to attend our 60th Wedding Anniversary dinner party last November. This was the last time I saw Bob. I have many good memories about my classmate and my long-time friend, Bob Selvey.

Submitted by Phil Matteson
July 18, 2020


Carol A. (Merrifield) Woods, 85, of Champaign, went home to her Lord on Wednesday, June 3, 2020, at Arbor Rose of Monticello. A family graveside service will be held at Woodlawn Cemetery in Urbana. Pastor Mike Mack will officiate. Carol was born in Champaign on January 2, 1935 to parents Daniel, Jr. and Edna Trotter Merrifield. They preceded her in death. Also, preceding her in death were two brothers. On March 16, 1962, Carol married Donald L. Woods in Champaign. Her husband survives, along with four daughters, four grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. Carol graduated from Champaign High School. She was a member of Meadowbrook Community Church, where, in lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made. Condolences may be offered at
(Source: The News-Gazette, Thursday, June 4, 2020)

During her high school days at CHS with the Class of 1953, Carol had early interest in Glee Club, Maroon staff, and Library staff, while serving as Secretary of Elstaff in her senior year. Her main interest all three years was Commercial Club, meaning she attended school in the morning and worked in the afternoon. She served as Secretary of the Commercial Club in her senior year. The caption with her senior picture in the yearbook reads...."I find laughter and joy in everything."
(Source: The 1953 Maroon)

Submitted by Phil Matteson
June 5, 2020


Classmate J.R. Stillwell was featured on the front page of The News-Gazette wearing his American Legion Post 24 cap, talking about Memorial Day services. The following are excerpts from the front page article:

J.R. Stillwell has been a part of Memorial Day services at Champaign's Mt. Hope Cemetery since 1948 until this year. The coronavirus pandemic has forced a change to Stillwell's routine. "There won't be any services," said Stillwell of Champaign Legion Post 24. Stillwell said the ceremonies go back more than 100 years. Spanish-American War Veterans participated, a sign of the longevity of the tradition. During the extended holiday weekend, Stillwell will continue to honor the many veterans at Mt. Hope and Roselawn cemeteries. He has American flags waiting for the loved ones of fallen veterans. Stillwell will be in his 1995 Mercury near the mausoleum, handing them out to anyone who asks. "I will be here almost all day Saturday, Sunday and Monday," Stillwell said. He estimates there are 600 to 700 veterans buried at Mt. Hope and Roselawn cemeteries. Stillwell, 85, served in the U.S. Army from January 1955-58. He was stationed in Orleans, France, 85 miles south of Paris. Later, Stillwell spent 38 years working in the insurance office at the University of Illinois. His late father, Clyde, first got Stillwell involved in the Memorial Day ceremonies. While still in junior high, Stillwell created a record of the burials in the Roselawn Military section. Does he think the Memorial Day ceremony will return to normal in 2021? "I hope so," Stillwell said.
(Source: The News-Gazette, Friday, May 22, 2020)

During this current weekend activities and on Memorial Day Monday, May 25, 2020, we pay tribute to all veterans, and a special "thank you for your service," to all our veteran CHS 1953 classmates.

Submitted by Phil Matteson
May 23, 2020


In remembering Judy (Turner) McCune, I think back to our 40th Class Reunion on July 24, 1993 at The Chancellor Hotel and Convention Center. This was the last time we saw and talked with Judy. For some reason, there was a big buildup to our 40th, with our school newspaper, The Champaign Chronicle, arriving each week of the school year with news from 1952-53. This did promote interest, which made our 40th one of the highest, if not the highest, in attendance with about 128 classmates plus guests for a total gathering of around 200. This interest in our 40th Class Reunion brought our class officers back to Champaign. President Mike Bowen had previously passed away due to an automobile accident, but Vice-President Ola Bundy came from Bloomington, Secretary Judy Turner came from New York, and Treasurer Mary Jane Bruggeman came from Downers Grove.

The returning class officers were asked to say a few words during the evening program. Our class was fortunate that classmate Russell Guy recorded the events of our 40th, including the program. His video recording was incorporated in the DVD played at our 65th reunion in 2018. The remarks by Judy on video were lighthearted. However, she was sincere when she said...."The music department was everything to me and music teachers were my role models." Then, she lightheartedly stated...."My senior year at CHS was an embarrassment. I was the only class member whose mother was pregnant." In later years, it was revealed that she viewed this as a miracle, as she had always longed for a sibling after her mother remarried.

Again, thank you to Jackie (Luce) Wilen for letting the class learn about news of Judy. In a recent telephone conversation with Jackie about being in band with Judy, she told me that Judy played a good clarinet and that she played a not-so-good flute. Sadly, all of our class officers elected to lead CHS 1953 have now passed away.

During this stay-at-home period of time, our ability to reflect has not been restricted.

Submitted by Phil Matteson
Sunday, May 3, 2020


Judith Allyn (Turner) McCune, 84, of Huntington, NY, passed away peacefully in her sleep on January 17, 2020 after a long illness. She was born on December 8, 1935 in Urbana, Illinois, the beloved daughter of Helen Dillon Keegan and Roy Everett Turner. She is survived by one son, three daughters, three grandsons, and one brother. She was predeceased by her parents, with her father being lost in a car accident when Judy was five years old. Judy graduated from the University of Illinois 1957 BA in Music Education. She was an accomplished musician and music educator, serving the Harbor Fields Community School District in Huntington at the T.J. Lahey Elementary School from 1969 to 1992. Judy devoted her retirement years to her two passions, being music and canine creatures. As a faithful parishioner, she sang in her church choir and volunteered at the Huntington League for Animal Protection. Judy loved dogs and participated in many educational events advocating for animal rescue and adoption. A Mass of Christian Burial was offered at OLQM Roman Catholic Church in Centerport, NY. Interment was at Huntington Rural Cemetery to the accompaniment of a New Orleans jazz band.
(Source: Excerpts from obituary provided by family)

Judy graduated from Champaign Junior High School in 1950. In ninth grade, she was in Homeroom 9-9, earned Junior Honor Society membership, voted class Vice President officer, played clarinet in Orchestra and Band, sang in Girls Glee Club and Vocalettes, and participated in Drama Club and Junior Red Cross.
(Source: The 1950 Retro)

During her three years at Champaign High School Judy was elected to Student Council, voted Senior Class Secretary officer, selected to Baton Club for her band and orchestra clarinet playing, selected to National Thespians for her Wig 'n' Paint activities, sang in A Capella Choir, Madrigals, and Vocalettes, member of the Maroon staff, appeared in the Stunt Show and appointed to Junior-Senior Prom Committee, Class Memorial Committee, and Commencement Speaker Committee. (Source: The 1953 Maroon) In September 1952, the Fall Stunt Show included a vaudeville act titled "Little Bit of Honey" with Judy Turner, Susan Black, Sharon Lappin and Mary Ann Stahl.
(Source: The Champaign Chronicle, September 26, 1952)

In October 1952, Judy was chosen for her all-around outstanding ability to be the first "Student of the Month" chosen by a Student Council Committee. The students pictures and activities were on display in the trophy case in the front hall.
(Source: The Champaign Chronicle, October 27, 1952)

In January 1953, it was announced that on February 7, 1953 Dick Cisne orchestra will play for the Vice-Versa dance, where the girl invites her guy and pays the bill. Tickets are $2.50 per couple. The dance is sponsored by the music department Baton Club with Judy Turner, President of the Baton Club, as General Chairman.
(Source: The Champaign Chronicle, January 9, 1953)

The caption with Judy's senior picture in the yearbook reads...."She needs no introduction; her music and personality have made her known to everyone."
(Source: The 1953 Maroon)
Thanks to classmate Jackie Luce Willen for providing news and information about her lifelong friend.

Submitted by Phil Matteson
April 30, 2020


Wilma Cox, 84, of Champaign, died Tuesday, March 31, 2020 at Carle Foundation Hospital, Urbana. There will be a graveside funeral service at 10:00 a.m. Tuesday, April 7, 2020 at Grandview Memorial Gardens, Champaign. Wilma was born June 2, 1935 in Iola, a daughter of Emory and Ollie (Simmons) Cox. She was preceded in death by her parents and three siblings. Wilma worked locally as a bookkeeper at Montgomery Ward Department Store, and as an Optometrist at both Jones Optical and Feoko Optical. She graduated from Champaign High School in 1953. Condolences may be offered at
(Source: The News-Gazette, Sunday, April 5, 2020)

During her high school days, Wilma served as an Office Helper in her sophomore year. She attended some early class reunions. Her senior picture in the yearbook has a caption that reads...."She has kind words for all."
(Source: The 1953 Maroon, page 24)
Submitted by Phil Matteson
April 5, 2020


Robert W. Bokenkamp, 98, passed away after a brief illness on Tuesday, October 29, 2019 at Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana. Funeral services were held Saturday, November 2 at St. John Lutheran Church in Champaign. Burial will be at 10:00 a.m. Monday, November 4, at Woodlawn Cemetery in Urbana. Robert was born June 24, 1921 in Washington, Indiana. He married Alice Katherine Birnier on August 15, 1948. He is survived by his wife, two sons, one daughter, 12 grandchildren, and 18 great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his parents, one son, and four brothers. Robert served honorably as a Lieutenant J.G. for the US Navy in the Pacific Theater during World War II. After the war, he earned degrees in architectural engineering and education from Eastern Illinois University and the University of Illinois. After teaching architectural and engineering drawing at Champaign High School from 1946 to 1960, he worked at the University of Illinois, where he rose to the rank of Assistant Dean of Engineering, a position he held from 1966 until his retirement in 1986. During his adult life, he was active in the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod. He served as President of the St. Lutheran Church congregation and on various committees. Memorial contributions may be made to Lutheran World Relief or St. John Lutheran Church of Champaign.
(Source: The News-Gazette, Thursday, October 31, 2019)

In ninth grade at Champaign Junior High School in 1950, I was in "Mr. B's" mechanical drawing class. This class and his teaching were something I have never forgotten. Mr. Bokenkamp was nice enough to accept our invitation to be a guest teacher at one of our earlier class reunions.
Submitted by Phil Matteson
Sunday, November 3, 2019


Donna Faye (Keene) Meeks, 83, of Lenexa, Kansas died Thursday, October 10, 2019 at Olathe Health Hospice House. Graveside services will be at 11:00 a.m. Saturday, October 26, at Grandview Memorial Gardens, 4112 Bloomington Road, Champaign. A celebration of life will be held at noon October 26 at Monical's Pizza, 205 North Mattis Avenue, Champaign. Memorial contributions may be made to Olathe Health Hospice House. Donna was preceded in death by her parents, Donald and Marie Keene, and her sister, Betty Keene Ohl (CHS 1952). She is survived by her husband of 65 years, Cecil Vachel Meeks; a son; four granddaughters; and one great-granddaughter. Condolences may be offered on line at Arrangements are by Porter Funeral Homes & Crematory, Lenexa, Kansas.
(Source: The News-Gazette, Thursday, October 17, 2019)

After attending Lottie Switzer Grade School, Donna graduated from Champaign Junior High School in 1950. At CJHS, she was assigned to homeroom 9-4, played the character June Ainsworthy in the Spring Operetta entitled "Ask the Professor," sang in the Girls' Glee Club, participated in the Bureau of Declamation service club, and the Drama Club activity club.
(Source: The 1950 Retro)

At Champaign Senior High School, where Donna graduated in 1953, she was on the Maroon staff, member of G.A.A., sang in the A Capella Choir, helped with the Senior Stunt Show, participated in Junior Red Cross, and served on Junior-Senior Prom Committee. Her senior picture in the yearbook has a caption that reads...."A bright, accomplished lass is she, full of fun and frivolity."
(Source: The 1953 Maroon)

Over the years of having our class reunions, Donna attended many celebrations until recently.
Submitted by Phil Matteson
October 17, 2019


Carl W. Meeks, 85, of Fort Myers, Florida passed away September 10, 2019 after a hard-fought battle with Alzheimer's. He was born July 15, 1934 at home in Urbana, Illinois to Chester Earl and Fretha Fern (Wright) Meeks. He graduated from Champaign Senior High School in 1953, where he was a state championship wrestler, securing the IHSA Wrestling Championship state title in 1953 for the 120 lb. weight class. Carl attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, working in construction and hustling golf games during the summers to pay for college. His affection for playing and watching golf lasted throughout his lifetime. Carl served in the US Army from 1956 to 1958 as a Missile Defense Launching Crew Member in the Battery Delta 83rd AAA Missile Battalion in Camp Hanford, Washington. He received commendation as a Marksman for the AAA Nike Missile. He served in the US Army Reserve until 1962. Carl founded the family business, Meeks Construction, in the late 1960s in Fort Myers, where he was joined by his parents and later by his two brothers, Earl and Richard. Upon his retirement, the company was named Insurance Reconstruction Services. He was active in the local Kiwanis Club and enjoyed ringing the bell for Salvation Army at Christmas time. He and his wife of 38 years, Patricia (Shevitski), were active in Saint Hillary's Episcopal Church, where he served as usher before joining St. Luke's Episcopal Church. Carl was preceded in death by his parents and three siblings. He is survived by his wife; a daughter; a stepdaughter; two grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren. In lieu of flowers, please make donations to Lee's Summit CARES, 1555 NE Rice Road, Lees Summit, MO 64086, or your favorite charity in his honor.
(Source: National Cremation & Burial Society, North Fort Myers, Florida)

Carl graduated from Champaign Junior High School in 1950, where he was assigned to 9-1 Homeroom. His interest was football, playing reserve quarterback position. At Champaign Senior High School he continued to participate in football, but concentrated on wrestling, being team captain, along with membership in the "C" Club. His senior picture caption in the yearbook reads...."If my studies had to wait, 'twas with wrestling I had a date."
(Source: The 1953 Maroon)

Submitted by Phil Matteson
September 29, 2019


Joyce E. (Simpson) Deakin, 83, of Mahomet, died Monday, July 29, 2019, at home, surrounded by her family. Friends may greet the family from 3:00 to 4:00 p.m. Saturday, August 3, at Blair-Owens Funeral Home, 102 East Dunbar Street, Mahomet. There will be a brief service to conclude the visitation at 4:00 p.m., when friends may share stories. Joyce was born October 24, 1935 in Champaign to Walter and Lela (Norman) Simpson. She married Thomas Deakin in 1972. He passed away in 2002. She was also preceded in death by a daughter, a son, her parents, two sisters, and three brothers. Joyce is survived by a son, two granddaughters, and one great-grandson. Joyce spent her entire life in the Champaign County area, attending Champaign Schools and graduating from Champaign High School in 1953. She worked at Illinois Bell Telephone Company (which became AT&T) for 32 years, earning retirement in 1990. Joyce was an excellent seamstress and sold some of the items she made, including clothes for stone geese. Her family will always remember the clothing she made for her grandchildren. She also enjoyed spending time in Florida. Condolences may be offered at
(Source: The News-Gazette, Wednesday, July 31, 2019)

Joyce graduated from Champaign Junior High School in 1950. At CJHS, she sang in the Girls Glee Club, served on the Retro Staff, and participated in a Social Dancing Club. (Source: The 1950 Retro) At CHS, Joyce joined the Girls Athletic Association, I.O.O.A, Commercial Club, and was an Office Occupations Reporter. The caption with her senior picture in the yearbook reads...."May she never change, except in name."
(Source: The 1953 Maroon)

Sadly, Joyce is our third classmate to die this past month of July.

Submitted by Phil Matteson
August 1, 2019


Theron "Jerry" Barham, 84, of Champaign, died Thursday, July 23, at home. He was born on June 4, 1935 in Champaign, a son of Artie and Lily Carol (McCurry) Barham. He married Patricia Bradley in Homer on June 29, 1957. Jerry is survived by his wife of 62 years, Pat; a son, Theron (CHS 1979); a daughter, Ann (CHS 1984); three grandchildren; two honorary grand-kids; and his brother, Bennie (CHS 1946). He was preceded in death by two sisters and one brother.
Jerry honorably served in the Marine Corps. Upon discharge, he worked for the US Postal Service as a letter carrier in Champaign for over 30 years. While working full time, he also built and grew a successful rental property business. Owens Funeral Home will conduct a private graveside service on Friday, July 26, at Woodlawn Cemetery, Urbana. A public celebration of life will be held at a later date. Condolences may be offered at
(Source: The News-Gazette, Thursday, July 25, 2019)

Jerry graduated from Champaign Junior High School in 1950. While at CJHS, he was in Homeroom 9-6 and played guard position on the Comets football team. At Champaign Senior High School, he continued playing football and earned membership in "C" Club. The caption with his senior picture in the yearbook reads...."Actions speak louder than words."
(Source: The 1953 Maroon)

Jerry was a quiet, soft-spoken classmate. Although he lived his entire life in Champaign, he never attended one of our class reunions. Sadly, Jerry is the fifth classmate to die this year.

Submitted by Phil Matteson
July 25, 2019


Jack Dixon, 85, of Pana, formerly of Champaign, died Thursday, July 11, 2019 at Life's Journey of Pana. A Mass of Christian Burial will be at 10:00 a.m. Monday, July 15, 2019 in St. Patrick's Catholic Church, Pana, with Father Rodney A. Schwartz officiating. Visitation was Sunday, July 14, at Kennedy & Sons Funeral Home, Pana. Burial will follow at 2:00 p.m. in Woodlawn Cemetery, Urbana, with Military rites by the Illinois Navy Honor Guard. Jack was born May 11, 1934 in Petersburg, Indiana, the son of Oscar L. and Ruth L. (Chamness) Dixon. He was raised in Champaign and graduated from Champaign High School with the Class of 1953. He was a veteran of the U.S. Navy and served during the Korean War on the aircraft carrier USS Boxer. Jack married Donna J. O'Neill on June 11, 1956. He retired as a salesman and beer distributor, being the owner of R&R Beer Distributors of Pana. He was a member of St. Patrick's Catholic Church, Knights of Columbus and Oconee American Legion. He founded the 3 on 3 Basketball Program in Pana. Jack is survived by his wife, Donna, one son, one daughter, three grandsons, one granddaughter, five great-grandchildren and one brother, Hank (CHS 1962). Jack was preceded in death by his parents, son Mark in 2013, two sisters and one brother. Memorials may be made to Alzheimer;s Research or Pana Community Hospital. The family is being served by Kennedy & Sons, Pana. Condolences may be offered at
(Source: The News-Gazette, Sunday, July 14, 2019)

Jack graduated from Champaign Junior High School with the Class of 1950. He was assigned to Homeroom 9-5 in ninth grade. He was a letter winner for the CJHS Comets at a guard position and participated in the Projector Club.
(Source: The 1950 Retro).

At Champaign Senior High School as a sophomore, Jack was a member of Future Farmers of America, but then his interest was only in sports. He was a letter winner in football. In basketball, Jack was one of only four seniors who won a letter. Because of his standard of athletic competition, he earned membership in the "C" Club. The caption with his senior picture in the yearbook reads..."Don't plague me with studies, I have weightier matters on my mind."
(Source: The 1953 Maroon)

While living in Champaign, Jack was co-chairman of our early CHS 1953 class reunions. Upon moving to Pana, he continued to attend some reunions until recently.
CHS 1953 classmates who attended the burial service in Woodlawn Cemetery were Bob Slade and Phil Matteson.

Submitted by Phil Matteson
July 15, 2019


Champaign Central High School

Construction is in full swing at four of the six Unit 4 buildings included in a voter-approved referendum project that now carries a total price tag of $239.8 million, almost $50 million over the original referendum amount. Work will continue through the summer at the following sites:
South Side/McKinley Field: The elementary school will receive a $12.1 million face lift, including a new addition, while McKinley Field work features a new $6.9 million football/track stadium. Centennial High School: The now $71.5 million renovation includes additions on either side of the school, a new gym, and more classroom space.

Dr. Howard: The old grade school building has been demolished, making way for a new elementary school that is expected to cost $18.1 million.

Champaign Central High School: The priciest project, now estimated at $96.3 million, is due to be completed in 2022. It will include new classrooms, more gym space, and on-site sport fields.
(Source: The News-Gazette, Friday, June 14, 2019)

As part of the school referendum for school construction work, the former McKinley YMCA at 500 West Church Street (home to our 500 Club Youth Center during our school days) has been torn down for an on-site sport field. Also, a section of Park Avenue has been removed of pavers for school expansion on the north side of our former CJHS, now Champaign Central High School. Unit 4 has made the 9-pound pavers available for free while quantities last. Nostalgia is one reason to pick up a paver.
(Source: The News-Gazette, Thursday, June 13, 2019)

Submitted by Phil Matteson
June 16, 2019


Joyce A. (Denman) Butsch, 83, of Urbana, passed away Sunday, June 2, 2019 at Meadowbrook Rehab Center, Urbana. A celebration of her life, with a gathering of family and friends, will be held Wednesday, June 19, from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. at Renner-Wikoff Chapel and Crematory, 1900 Philo Road, Urbana. Joyce was born in Mattoon on July 19, 1935, the daughter of Arthur and Irene (Brown) Denman. She married Joseph M. Butsch on November 14, 1964, and he preceded her in death October 24, 2013. She is survived by four children, a sister, and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Joyce graduated from Champaign High School. She worked as a telephone operator at Chanute Air Force Base in Rantoul, the University of Illinois, Carmen's, Illini Studio, Champaign Telephone Co., Jewel/Eisner and Schnucks. She and her husband spent much of their years together collecting classic cars and going on road trips to collect antiques for their home. They also frequented local diners for decades like Taffie's and Steak 'n Shake. Joyce was a bejeweled, high heel and animal print wearing woman. She loved to spoil her dog, JoJo. In lieu of other expressions of sympathy, memorial contributions may be made to the Champaign County Humane Society. Condolences may be offered at
(Source: Champaign News-Gazette, June 9, 2019)

Joyce attended many of our class reunions over the past 65 years. The caption with her senior picture in the yearbook reads...."One may live and learn." Sadly, her passing is our third classmate this year and makes a 99 total of known deceased classmates.

Submitted by Phil Matteson
June 10, 2019


Word has been received from Sandra Adams Kortkamp of Rockford that her brother Bob Adams, our classmate, passed away. Bob wrote his own obituary, which will be published in The News-Gazette prior to April 20, which was his birth date. The following are excerpts from his writing.

Robert Franklin Adams, age 83, passed away on Monday, January 21, 2019 in Northwest Heart and Vascular Institute in Margate, Florida, where he had been a patient since late November 2018.
Bob was born on April 20, 1935, a son of Frank Morris Adams and DeEtte Schaede Adams. He married Kay Robinson in 1957 and they divorced in 1993. He is survived by his partner, three sons, one daughter, ten grandchildren, three great-grandchildren, sister Sandra Adams Kortkamp (CHS 1956), sister-in-law Carolyn Miner Adams (CHS 1954), several nieces, nephews and cousins. He was predeceased by his parents, an infant daughter, brother Richard Russell Adams (CHS 1951), and grandparents, as well as several aunts, uncles and cousins. Bob's grandfather, Pete Adams, served as the first Chief of Police at the University of Illinois, and his great-grandfather Schaede Adams conducted the orchestra at the U of I's first commencement ceremony. Bob retired from the University of Illinois Film and Video Center in 1990 after 35 years of service. He was a Life Member of the Consortium of College and University Media Centers. While at the University, Bob volunteered as a reader for the blind. He also was in the first group of volunteers in the community to learn CPR and taught over 100 classes.

During his lifetime, Bob had many hobbies and interests. As a teenager Bob became interested in dogs, and at 16 years old began showing his first show dog, a Doberman Pinscher, which he purchased in 1950 from local breeder and judge Helen Kammerer. Soon he was asked to show dogs for other exhibitors, and in no time became a Professional Handler, showing many different breeds at shows all over the Midwest, and even exhibited at the Westminster Kennel Club Show in Madison Square Garden. He served a term as President of the Doberman Pinscher Club of Central Illinois, of which he was a founding member. His last dog was a champion Pug, which Bob trained to be a therapy dog. Bob also had a love of gardening, especially roses, which led to exhibiting in flower shows. He was quite successful and won many top awards. He became a Consulting Rosarian for the American Rose Society and helped form a local ARS affiliated Rose Society Chapter, serving a term as president. Bob had a love of horses that started as a very young boy, and he eventually purchased a Standardbred yearling, which raced and won several times. He also loved saddle-bred horses and for a number of years had a box seat at the World's Championship Horse Show in Louisville, KY. Bob also collected coins, grew plants under lights, and raised and bred tropical fish. For a number of years he collected antiques, primarily glass, but his main interest after retiring was International travel. He visited England, Switzerland, France, Italy, Germany, Lichtenstein, Austria, Greece, Spain, Turkey, Hungary, Croatia, Monaco, Mexico, Belize and a number of Caribbean islands. Bob had spinal surgery in 2013 and suffered a stroke in 2015, so travel abroad was no longer possible. But, he continued to be active and engaged until the end.
(Source: The personal obituary written by Bob Adams in 2017)

After grade school Bob attended Champaign Junior High School, graduating from ninth grade in 1950. At CJHS he was in homeroom 9-1 and took part in the "Down at the Station" 1949 Fall Revue entertainment act. On to Champaign Senior High School, Bob's interests in student activities centered around drama. He was in the Fall Play and worked each semester on dramatic productions, which earned him membership in Wig 'n' Paint, the dramatic club of CHS. The caption with his senior picture in the yearbook reads...."A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men." (Source: The 1953 Maroon, page 20) Bob always kept the class informed of his current address so he could receive class news. His devotion to travel, and his recent health, prevented him from attending a class reunion. The family will be holding a Celebration of Life on Bob's birth date, April 20, at the Crystal Lake Park Pavilion in Urbana between 2-5:00 p.m.

Submitted by Phil Matteson
April 7, 2019


Terrance Leo O'Neill, 83, of Champaign, died Wednesday, March 13, 2019 at Carle Hospital in Urbana. Terry, as he was known, was born May 4, 1935 at Burnham City Hospital in Champaign, the youngest child of Thomas Leo and Sarah (Bates) O'Neill, who brought him back to the family home on West John Street, where he was raised and where he would live his entire life. Terry graduated from Champaign High School in 1953. He was captain of the Maroon football team and he ran track. He earned a B.S. in Business Administration from the University of Illinois. He was a staunch supporter of the University, the U of I Foundation, and Fighting Illini Athletics, especially Illinois baseball, and the 1998 Big 10 Championship team, on which his son Dan played. He was active in the Rotary Club of Champaign for 50 years, and he was a member of the Knights of Columbus and the Elks Club. In 1957, Terry joined Champaign Asphalt Company, the family business founded by his father. He served successfully as Vice President, President and Chairman of the Board until he retired in 2003. In 1962, he married Julia Friedman of Champaign, and together they raised four children. His wife survives him, as do two sisters, four children, ten grandchildren, and one great-grandchild. Terry was a life-long parishioner of Holy Cross Catholic Church. He went to grade school at Holy Cross, married Julie there, and attended Mass there throughout his life.
His funeral will be celebrated with a funeral Mass at Holy Cross, 405 West Clark Street, Champaign, on Monday, March 18, at 10:00 a.m. Burial will be at St. Patrick's Cemetery, Tolono. Visitation will be from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. Sunday, March 17, with a Rosary at 3:30 p.m. at Morgan Memorial Home, 1304 Regency Drive West, Savoy. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions in Terry's name can be made to Holy Cross School, 410 West White Street, Champaign, IL 61820. Online condolences can be shared with the family at
(Source: The News-Gazette, Friday, March 15, 2019)

Terry graduated from eighth grade at Holy Cross Grade School in 1949. Then, he attended Champaign Junior High School in Homeroom 9-5. He played football on the Comets grid squad and scored two touchdowns against Urbana, leading the way to an 18-0 winning score. He graduated from CJHS in 1950.
(Source: The 1950 Retro)
At Champaign Senior High School, Terry participated in football, track, and wrestling. He played halfback and was captain of the football team and earned membership in "C" Club. The caption with his senior picture in the yearbook reads...."A penny for your thoughts."
(Source: The 1953 Maroon)
Terry enjoyed attending all of our class reunions, because he enjoyed conversation with other classmates. He made a special effort, using a walker, to attend our 65th reunion last year, which was announced to be our final reunion.

Submitted by Phil Matteson
Saturday, March 16, 2019


Looking back on the Class of 1954's News and Information page, I found this article and may be of interest to some of my classmates.
This song was introduced at Donna Matteson's 55th class reunion, by Jean (Hayes) it is on "You Tube", along with various scenery shots of the Champaign area.
Sung by Carl Perkins. Co-written by Carl and Bob Dylan in 1969

Another song by an Illinois Native, Illinois ~ Dan Fogelberg

While viewing youtube, I found three more that may be of interest that will bring back memories. By Mike Moran
Link to: Illinois State Song with University of Illinois Scenes



Submitted by Harold Keller
January 28.2019


Roger and Jeanette Spahr of Mahomet celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary with a dinner party with their children and grandchildren. They were married on December 11, 1958 at Gibson City Bible Church, Gibson City. They have three children and seven grandchildren.
Roger served in the National Guard for six years and has been a member of Carpenters Local 44 for 63 years. He retired as a carpenter foreman for housing at the University of Illinois in 1990. Jeanette worked for Bacon & Van Buskirk Glass Company and Cole Hospital. She retired from the Christie Clinic Ophthalmology Department after 15 years.
(Source: The News-Gazette, Wednesday, December 12, 2018)

Submitted by Phil Matteson
December 16, 2018


Per Anniversaries section article in The News-Gazette Wednesday, November 7, 2018, Lewis and Treva Fox of Fisher celebrated their 65th Wedding Anniversary on November 7, with a family dinner in Urbana. Lewis Fox and the former Treva McWethy were married on November 7, 1953 in Monticello. They have three children: Beverly, the late Ellen, and the late Steven; four grandchildren, and fourteen great-grandchildren. The Reverend Fox is a retired ordained minister and a Union carpenter for Local 44. Mrs. Fox is a homemaker.

Submitted by Phil Matteson
November 11, 2018

CHS 1953 - 65th REUNION * IN REVIEW *

Our 65th Class Reunion weekend is now behind us. Because this was our "Farewell Reunion" there was a sense of joy in being together, but also sadness to say farewell to life-time friendships from grade school, CJHS, and CHS. In pre-planning, the Reunion Committee did not know what expectations should be for attendance. For all events during the Reunion weekend the attendance exceeded our expectations. The good attendance is what made this reunion a success and memorable. Our optional gatherings at Steak 'n' Shake, social time on Friday night, and breakfast at the Hilton on Saturday and Sunday were well attended. The Saturday night main reunion event began with social time and showing of a Fabulous 50s video with 50s music. The opening prayer was recited by Shirley (Hausmann) Schweighart followed by a moment of silence in memory of deceased classmates. We have lost a total of 96 classmates, with 20 being during the last five years since our last reunion.

The plated sit-down dinner was followed by a Welcome and Remarks by Phil Matteson reviewing our Class of 1953 contributions to CHS history. We were the 56th class to graduate from CHS, and the current 2018 class was the 151st. Our class is definitely a part of CHS history. Phil reviewed the accomplishments of our school yearbook staff, our school newspaper staff, our drama cast, our speech team, our debate team, our musicians, our building trades group, our football, basketball, baseball, track, golf and tennis sport teams. Phil made a special mention of our most successful sport team being the wrestling team, which placed first in the Big 12, first in the Sectional, and 4th in the State. Captain Carl Meeks finished first in the state 120 lb. weight class. For his individual accomplishment representing our class, a Carl Meeks 1953 Championship banner hangs high in the rafters of CHS Combes Gym overlooking the gym floor. Members of that team who attended the reunion were Bill Hartz and Hank Hatch. Phil mentioned our one CHS 1953 classmate in the CHS Athletic Hall of Fame being Ola Bundy. Also, reference was made to Susan (Black) Drummond who, along with other CHS 1953 classmates, started the Max Maroon mascot tradition. Phil stressed that each CHS 1953 classmate was an important member of our class, and that we all can be proud of our class contributions toward the history of CHS.

In closing, Phil acknowledged a "thank you" to each classmate who helped with reunions over the past 65 years. A special "thank you" to Harold Keller for his excellent work in maintaining our class website since June 28, 1999. A special "thank you" to Shirley (Hausmann) Schweighart for her many years of organizing. As for himself, Phil stated that he has enjoyed event planning for the class going back to our ninth grade dance..."Dreamers Holiday" and our Junior-Senior Prom..."Ball Parisian."

Raffle items were won by....Charles Cremeens (Mens CHS Polo) - Don Maxwell (Womens CHS Polo) - Bob Apperson (Dr. Howard 1907 coat hook) - Terry O'Neill (CHS Athletic Hall of Fame book) - and Bob Selvey (Steak 'n' Shake Teddy Bear).

Our class website will continue for an indefinite period of time. Visit our website at for class news, directory, and 65th reunion pictures.

Classmates who made reservations for the reunion were:

Robert Alsop, Martha (Anderson) Hursey, Robert Apperson, Barbara (Bailey) Thrash,
Ruth (Bulkley) Warfield, Charles Cremeens, Patricia (Demlow) Williams, Joyce (Denman) Butsch,
Ray Griffet, Richard Haines, Tom Hammersmith, Bill Hartz, Hank Hatch, Shirley (Hausmann) Schweighart,
Wally Heintzen, Kay Kessler, Jackie (Luce) Wilen, Doris (McCown) Potts, Phil Matteson, Don Maxwell, Louis Mays,
Jim Neal, Terry O'Neill, Virginia (Percy) Strong, Kay (Pfiester) Goodling, Myrna (Primmer) Anglin,
Richard Rohr, Carolyn (Schloz) Hamrick, Nancy (Schubert) Darnall, Don Scott, Bob Selvey, Bob Slade,
Lois (Smith) Dunn, Louise (Smith) Hill, Roger Sphar, J. R. Stillwell, Keith Whited, and Ruth Woodworth.

Submitted by Reunion Committee
July 31, 2018

The News Gazette/ Top of the Morning, July 22, 2018

Champaign High’s Class of 1953 produced a state wrestling champ in Carl Meeks, a trailblazing IHSA bigwig in Ola Bundy and even a nickname for the school’s menacing mascot (Max Maroon) — plenty of fodder for their once-every-five-years reunion.

Next weekend, 38 members from the Class of ‘53 — and their guests — will swap tall tales for the last time in what will be a farewell 65th get-together.

“During high school, we developed a circle of friendship that lasts a lifetime,” said Phil Matteson, who for many years has coordinated the reunion. “There’s still that circle. It’s just a smaller circle.”

Holding reunions in all corners of Champaign — never in Urbana — the Class of ‘53 has enjoyed some memorable moments. Like the Dog-N-Suds themed shindig in ‘98 that saw two former Champaign High music teachers, Don Hamacher and Jim Griggs, join the festivities. They founded the restaurant in 1953 and went on to hire a slew of former Maroons.

But age has taken a toll on the group, nearly 100 of the 230-member class having passed away. So next weekend’s reunion at Hilton Garden Inn will be the last one.

“Classes before us had their last reunions at 50 and maybe 55 years,” Matteson said, “and we went a little longer than that. Once you reach 65 years, it’s going to be a smaller group. But so many are appreciative of trying to keep this together.”

The News Gazette Interviewed Phil Matteson
Submitted by Harold Keller
July 22, 2018


Information has been received regarding the passing of Carolyn (Beck) Hammock some five years ago in the Crestview, Florida area. According to family members, there was no published obituary. Carolyn was born during 1935 in Chicago, and later adopted by Oscar A. and Louise "Bobbie" Beck. She married Michael Hammock, who preceded her in death, as did her parents. She was survived by two daughters, Debra and Laura; three sons, Robert, Jeff and Daniel; and two brothers, Ronald (CHS 1956) and Gordon (CHS 1957).

Carolyn was retired from working in Florida as a bowling lanes manager. During the early 1950s, she lived with her parents at 212 West John Street. Her father ran a neighborhood grocery store next door at 210 West John Street. Carolyn attended Lincoln Grade School, Champaign Junior High School and Champaign Senior High School. At CJHS, she was in homeroom 9-6 and participated in the Girls' Sports Activity Club. At CHS, where she graduated in 1953, she was on the Chronicle staff, participated in G.A.A., and helped on the Library staff. The caption with her senior picture in the Maroon yearbook reads...."No storm ever ruffled the current of her life."
(Source: The 1953 Maroon)

Classmate Harold Keller brought the passing of Carolyn to our attention after reading an obituary last week of her brother, Ronald Beck, who was preceded in death by a sister, Carolyn. Harold stated that he would go to the Beck neighborhood grocery store on John Street, which was only a few blocks from his house, and buy pop and candy. Harold seemed to think that Mr. Beck liked him because he would save some bubble gum for Harold, when bubble gum was scarce in 1946. Harold wonders now if Mr. Beck was setting him up with Carolyn. Harold and Carolyn both went to sixth grade at Lincoln Grade School. According to Harold, nothing ever came of it.

Submitted by Phil Matteson
June 24, 2018


Helen (Worsham) Tingleff, 82, of Harbor Springs, Michigan and Barrington, passed away peacefully on Sunday, June 20, 2018 in Petoskey, Michigan. Daughter of Robert and Myrtle (Lake) Worsham, Helen was born on June 28, 1935 in Champaign. She attended the University of Illinois where she met her husband, John Tingleff, who preceded her in death in 1999. Helen graduated in 1957 with a Bachelor's Degree in Education. Helen was a lifetime member of the Chi Omega Sorority. She enjoyed playing golf and tennis in her youth, and knitting and travel throughout her life. Helen and John took several trips around the country in their motor coach. Helen was a member of the Presbyterian Church in Harbor Springs, Michigan, where she will be interred in their columbarium with John during a private family service at a later date. Helen is survived by her sons, Stephen (Jen) and David (Ann Marie); two grandsons and a granddaughter. Those wishing to honor Helen's memory are asked to make a memorial donation to the Little Traverse Conservancy, 3264 Powell Road, Harbor Springs, MI 49740.
(Source: The News-Gazette, Friday, June 15, 2018)

During the 1950s, Helen lived with her parents at 1214 West Park Avenue in Champaign. She attended Dr. Howard Grade School, Champaign Junior High School and Champaign Senior High School. At CJHS in 1950 Helen was in homeroom 9-3 and achieved the status of Banner Kid as a member of the National Junior Honor Society, sang in the Girls Glee Club and Choralettes, and served on the Retro staff. After three years at CHS, Helen graduated with the class of 1953. In high school, she was a member of the National Honor Society, Student Council, Maroon staff, Wig 'n' Paint, G.A.A., Concert Choir, Art Club, and served on Announcement Committee, Junior-Senior Prom Committee, and Senior Banquet Committee. The caption with her senior picture in the yearbook reads...."They always save the best to the last," because her name was the last one shown in alphabetical order in the yearbook.
(Source: The 1953 Maroon, page 41)

Submitted by Phil Matteson
Sunday, June 17, 2018



Dr. Laurence "Larry" B. Rice died at his home in Huntsville, Alabama on Thursday morning, March 22, 2018. He was born on Easter Sunday, April 21, 1935, to Herbert O. and Cynthia C. Rice in Champaign, Illinois, and received his early education at a two-room rural school. His subsequent education was completed at Champaign High School, the University of Illinois (B.S. in Engineering Physics), Clemson University (M.S. in Physics), and the University of Virginia (Ph.D in Physics). As a high school student, he joined the U.S. Navy Reserve as an electronics technician, completing an eight-year enlistment. While a University student, he gained summer employment and experience at General Electric, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and at the Naval Research Laboratory in Anacostia, DC. After completing his Doctorate in 1962, he began employment at the RCA Service Company at Patrick AFB, Florida, in support of the Air Force Eastern Test Range. His work there focused on improving radar tracking data on the Range and on the USNS Arnold and the USNS Vandenburg tracking ships. In 1973, he joined Science Applications International Corporation in Huntsville, where he initially worked on both the Ballistic and Concrete Early Warning Systems. He continued with SAIC in Huntsville and in Indianapolis, Indiana until his retirement.

In June of 1963 he married Barbara, his close friend and fellow graduate student at the University of Virginia chapel. They are the parents of four children and grandparents of five grandchildren. Larry and Barbara were avid independent travelers and took every opportunity to explore places new to them. In this process they visited six of the seven continents and all 50 states, generally with children and grandchildren accompanying them. As father of a growing family, Larry served as a church youth group leader and supported his children's activities. He had a green thumb for horticulture and began raising tropical plants while living in Florida, and continued this hobby in Huntsville with many more challenges. In retirement, he was a member and past president of the Heart of Dixie Orchid Society, and an instructor and board member of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at UAH. Funeral services were held at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church, Huntsville on Monday, March 26, 2018. Burial was at Wabash Presbyterian Church, Allendale, Illinois. Memorials may be made to the Huntsville Parkinson's Support Group or to the Huntsville-Madison Public Library.
(Source: The Huntsville Times, March 25, 2018)

Larry graduated from Champaign Junior High in 1950. At CJHS he was in Homeroom 9-2 and played in the newly-formed organized string orchestra under the direction of Mr. James A. Griggs.
(Source: The 1950 Retro)

At Champaign Senior High School, Larry continued playing his string instrument in Orchestra, and took part in Student Council activities. The caption with his senior picture in the yearbook reads...."Others are effected by what I do or say."
(Source: The 1953 Maroon)

Larry never was able to attend a class reunion. However, in 1998, he did register to attend our 45th reunion, but his obligations in Huntsville prevented him from making the trip to Champaign. His wife, Barbara Rice, with all that is on her mind at this time, was so kind to inform the class last week regarding this sad news. She related that she was able to care for Larry at home during his final illness for which she was grateful.

Submitted by Phil Matteson
April 16, 2018

CHS Class of 1953 REUNION!

March 6, 2018
Hello CHS 1953 Classmate,
Hope all is well with you in this early part of the New Year….2018.

Another five years have passed since our last class reunion in 2013.
So, to keep us forever young at heart….our CHS Class of 1953 will have a reunion this year.
We will have our 65th class reunion on Friday, July 27, and Saturday, July 28, 2018.

The Reunion will be held at the Hilton Garden Inn,
1501 South Neil Street in Champaign.
Telephone 217-352-9970.
This location is the corner of South Neil Street and Kirby Avenue,
where the Pines was located back in our day.

Preliminary plans, subject to change, are as follows:

Friday lunch at Steak ‘n Shake for early arrivals.
Friday evening casual get-together at Hilton Garden Inn with light hors d’ oeuvres.
Saturday breakfast at Garden in the Hilton.
Saturday evening casual reunion at Hilton Garden Inn with buffet dining and program.
Sunday farewell breakfast at Garden in the Hilton.

Over 65 years, all costs to hold any event in Champaign have increased.
The committee, however, will keep reunion costs to a minimum for our total enjoyment.

If you have any comments, please contact the committee by email at:
or telephone Phil Matteson at 217-352-8832.

CHS 1953 Reunion Committee


After the recent good news announcement of our 65th Class Reunion this year, sad news has been received that Rev. David Ronald Warnock, PhD, a retired US Navy Lieutenant, died Saturday, September 8, 2012, at age 77 in Hurst, Texas. A celebration of life was held at Shady Oaks Baptist Church in Hurst. David was born on August 24, 1935 in Eldorado, Arkansas. He was a proud pilot in the US Navy for five and a half years. During his working career, he was an IT Bell employee and retired from Electronic Data Systems. David sang in the Bellevue Baptist Church choir. He is survived by his wife, Adoria, four daughters, one son, and grandchildren.
(Source: Star-Telegram, Sunday, September 9, 2012)

David attended CJHS for seventh, eighth, and ninth grades. In ninth grade, he was assigned to homeroom 9-6 and played French horn in Orchestra and Band.
(Source: The 1950 Retro)

During CHS days, he continued his music interests in Orchestra, Band, A Capella Choir, Troubadours, and Madrigals. Also, he was on the Chronicle school newspaper staff, in Wig 'n' Paint, played on the tennis team, member of Baton Club, in the Stunt Show, and enjoyed being on the Debate team. Along with his senior picture in the yearbook, the caption reads...."Let fools the studious despise, there's nothing lost by being wise." (Source: The 1953 Maroon)

David was unable to attend a class reunion, but his wife stated over the telephone from Hurst, Texas that he had returned to Champaign some years ago to see the old high school and relive his fond memories of school days in Champaign.

Submitted by Phil Matteson
March 11, 2018


Personal Note: In 1950 at Champaign Junior High School I took a Mechanical Drawing class taught by Mr. Bokenkamp, who was addressed as "Mr. B." Only boys in our CJHS Class of 1950 would remember "Mr. B" because no girls took a mechanical drawing class at that time. "Mr. B" was invited and attended as a guest teacher to our CHS 1953 45th Class Reunion in 1998. "Mr. B" might possibly be the only living teacher from our CJHS and CHS school days. For the past several months, The News-Gazette has been featuring a military veteran interview story entitled WORLD WAR II VETERAN. The following is the current article:

In taking several islands in the South Pacific, Bob Bokenkamp, a retired associate Dean of Students, said American troops got a great assist. "The Australian and New Zealand troops helped us capture some of those islands," he said. A retired University of Illinois engineering administrator, Bokenkamp, 96, grew up all over the country. "We lived wherever there were railroads, as my father was a railroad man," he explained. Bokenkamp had just graduated from Eastern Illinois State Normal School (now Eastern Illinois University) in 1943, when he enlisted in the Navy. Part of the Navy's attraction was it wasn't the Army. "He didn't want to go to Germany because he had relatives there," said his daughter, Jodie Thies, who helped out recounting Bokenkamp's story where her father's memory was hazy, something that only began recently. He was the oldest of five boys, another of whom also joined the Navy. As a mid-shipman, Bokenkamp was sent for additional training at Columbia University in New York, and then sent to the South Pacific. His job was to gain intelligence about islands held by the Japanese. The Japanese were clearly in retreat as the war progressed, and Bokenkamp saw the horrors of war, including a large number of Japanese who jumped off a cliff and drowned. After returning to the United States and after his discharge, Bokenkamp started teaching at Champaign Junior High School, followed by joining the faculty at Champaign Senior High School. He earned a master's degree in education in 1950, a springboard to joining the University of Illinois Administration at the Urbana campus. He and his wife, Alice, raised four children.
(Source: The News-Gazette, Tuesday, December 26, 2017)

Submitted by Phil Matteson
December 29, 2017


Champaign's largest and oldest commercial radio station, WDWS, has moved back, as of October 18, 2017, to its roots, once again sharing a building with The News-Gazette in downtown after seventy years apart. WDWS-AM, named for News-Gazette founder David W. Stevick, as well as FM station WHMS (re-named in the 1980s for Helen M. Stevick) and the more recent acquisition WKIO-FM have completed their move. WDWS-AM signed on at 8:00 a.m. on January 24, 1937 from the second floor of the original News-Gazette building at 48 Main Street. In December 1948, WDWS-FM went on the air, and the entire radio operation moved from downtown to South Neil Street. The new 420-foot tower on South Neil Street was said to be the highest structure in East Central Illinois then. The South Neil Street building was state of the art during the 1960s, after being custom-built for radio in 1948. Now, the transmitter tower remains on South Neil Street, but all the digital studios and satellite broadcasts are at the News-Gazette building at 15 Main Street.
(Source: The News-Gazette, Wednesday, October 18, 2017)
The old News-Gazette building and surrounding properties at 48 Main Street were sold last January for $l.77 million and will be converted to a project that is going to be retail, restaurant and apartments.
(Source: The News-Gazette, Sunday, October 15, 2017)

Some CHS 1953 classmates may recall during our high school days listening to WDWS-1400 radio for the Teen-Age Tune Time on Saturday mornings. Every other week the show featured playing records of the latest hit tunes, or well-liked songs from the past. The radio program was made possible by Myers' Fashions and Cable Piano. In 1952, the two regulars who gathered all the info for listeners were Sharon Cruthers and Martha Sanford. They had the job of writing all the ads used on the show and choosing a topic of discussion for each program with two CHS invited guests. (Source: The Champaign Chronicle, Friday, March 21, 1952)

Submitted by Phil Matteson
October 20, 2017


Our classmate, Don Maxwell, spent four years in the Air Force after high school graduation. After that, he went to Southern Illinois University, got tired of that, and came back home to start farming. Having grown up on a farm he always figured he would become a farmer. Taking over farming is not easy, but doing so in the 1950s did not require a great big loan to start out for Don. The farm is now in its fifth generation, transitioning from a big dairy farm in the late 1800s to more of a corn and soybeans farm today. Don does not plan to quit anytime soon, saying....."it is my way of life."
(Source: The News-Gazette, Sunday, October 15, 2017, page A-6, Sunday special: "A Lifetime Investment"....That's why, for many aging farmers, hanging it up can be difficult)

Submitted by Phil Matteson
October 15, 2017


This past week, in downtown Champaign, at 48 Main Street, a portion of Main Street was closed off while a large hydraulic crane removed the printing press at the News-Gazette (formerly the Champaign Daily News). This press had printed billions of papers for East Central Illinois, including The News-Gazette, Chicago Tribune, Daily Illini, and others. All that ended last June 25, when the press was shut down for the last time. For the first time, since September 1852, a newspaper is not being printed in Champaign. Along with The News-Gazette, the Bloomington Pantograph, the Springfield State Journal-Register, six other dailies, and a host of weeklies are now printed in Peoria and trucked back to their home town for distribution.
(Source: The News-Gazette, Sunday, October 15, 2017, page 1)

Submitted by Phil Matteson
October 15, 2017


Lewis R. "Ron" Selvidge, Jr., 82, passed away September 17, 2017 in the loving presence of family at St. Francis Hospital in Columbus, Georgia. Lew was born December 21, 1934, in Wichita Falls, Texas, to Lewis R. and Iva (Pickett) Selvidge, Sr. Shortly after the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941, WWII took Lew's dad from his job as a school principal in Antelope, Texas to Federal Civil Service as an Instructor at Chanute Air Force Base in Rantoul and the family settled in Champaign. After high school Lew drove a Coca-Cola truck for a year and then joined the Air Force in 1954. Lew married Alma Lee Wootton in Champaign before Lew was sent to McConnell AFB, Wichita, Kansas, where he served as a hydraulics specialist on B-47 aircraft. Upon completion of his tour in the Air Force, Lew earned his BS and MS in Industrial Studies at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale 1958-1963. He accepted a teaching position at State University of New York in Oswego, followed by post-graduate work at University of Illinois before his final teaching position at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro starting in 1968 and retiring in 1997 as a Professor Emeritus of Industrial Technology. He authored two text books and published many articles on Free Enterprise, World Class Manufacturing, and Total Quality Management. Lew was also a master woodworker, building many Colonial Williamsburg reproductions, in addition to custom designs of his own. One of his other passions was writing Christian Gospel tracts and bookmarks that he used for evangelism. Lew and Alma were faithful members of First Baptist Church in Statesboro where they taught Sunday school and Lew served as a Deacon. Since moving to Phenix City, Alabama in 2008 Lew was a member of Wynnbrook Baptist Church, where he was active in prayer ministry and Sunday school. Lew leaves behind a loving wife, Alma, of 64 years, sons Lewis R, III and Mark, one granddaughter, two grandsons, and sister Karol. Funeral service was held Friday, September 22, 2017 at Cox Funeral Home in Rosiclare, Illinois, preceded by public visitation. Burial was in the Karbers Ridge area.
(Source: The family of Lewis R. Selvidge, Jr.)

Ron lived with his parents and sister Karol (CHS 1958) during the early 1950s at 504 West Beardsley Street. Ron's father was an instructor at Chanute Air Force Base. Ron attended Columbia Grade School where he played on the 1947 sixth grade basketball team and was a cager, who participated in grade school league play on Saturdays in the CJHS gym. At Champaign Junior High School he was in homeroom 9-3, and played on the 1949 CJHS Comets football team at center position, becoming a letter winner. Also, Ron played in the band and participated in Social Dancing club activity.
(Source: The 1950 Retro)

At Champaign Senior High School, he preferred involvement in sports being football, basketball and baseball in his sophomore year and only football in his junior year. Along with his 1953 senior picture in the school yearbook, the quote reads...."He fears the wiles of maidens' smiles."
(Source: The 1953 Maroon, page 37)

During our grade school days on many occasions during basketball season, I would be in the Selvidge driveway. Ronnie and I, along with others, would be shooting baskets at a hoop on the front of his garage. Many H-O-R-S-E shootouts. Ron and I talked to each other and saw each other more after high school than during our junior high and high school days. School days create life-time friendships. After Ron and Alma moved to Statesboro, Georgia from Champaign in 1968, Donna and I were taking vacations to Florida in March. Upon return trips, we would swing over to Statesboro for a visit, covering a period of over 15 years. Ron seemed to enjoy return trips to Champaign for our class reunions. Donna and I helped celebrate Ron's life career and our friendship by attending his funeral service in Rosiclare, Illinois on September 22, 2017.

Submitted by Phil Matteson
September 23, 2017


John Edward Wible, 82, of Urbana, died at 10:05 p.m. Sunday, July 30, 2017, at Heartland Health Care, Champaign. Funeral services will be held at 11:00 a.m. Saturday, August 5, 2017, at Renner-Wikoff Chapel and Crematory, Urbana. The Rev. Rich Gregory will officiate. Burial will be in Woodlawn Cemetery, Urbana. Visitation will be held from 10:00 to 11:00 a.m. Saturday at the funeral home. John was born on March 16, 1935, in Champaign, the son of Calvin Jessie and Rinda Edith Nelson Wible. He married Betty Wilson on July 5, 1953, in Urbana. She survives. Also surviving are one daughter, two sons, eleven grandchildren, and ten great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by one sister, two brothers, and one great-grandson. John retired from Washington National as an insurance agent. He loved to golf and was an avid sports fan. John had a great love for cats. Memorial contributions may be made to the Champaign County Humane Society. Condolences may be offered at
(Source: The News-Gazette, Wednesday, August 2, 2017)

John attended Gregory Grade School and played on the sixth grade basketball team that participated in league play on Saturdays in the CJHS gym. At Champaign Junior High School he was assigned to homeroom 9-6 and played guard position on the CJHS Comets football team in 1949, coached by Robert Taylor that had six wins and only one loss. (Source: The 1950 Retro) At Champaign Senior High School, in 1953 as a senior, John was elected to the Board of Directors of the state Association of Future Distributors. This eighth annual convention was held simultaneously with the Illinois Office Occupation Association meeting. In the State of Illinois, eighteen school are participating in the IOOA program, and forty-four schools are taking part in the AFD program.
(Source: The Champaign Chronicle, Friday, February 27, 1953 Vol. XXVII, No. 20)

John was Camera Shy for his senior picture in the yearbook, but the quote with his name reads..."It hurts to let go of any information."
(Source: The 1953 Maroon, page 42)

John never attended a class reunion. Shortly after high school, I would see him on occasion working in the men's department on the second floor at Jos. Kuhn & Co. After that, I saw him sometimes at the Champaign Post Office lobby on North Neil Street, picking up mail for his career job with Washington National. He always was quiet and polite.

Submitted by Phil Matteson
August 2, 2017


Margaret A. McHenry "Dottie" Eveland, 81, of Oakwood, Illinois died Friday, June 30, 2017, at Provena Covenant Medical Center, Urbana, Illinois. Visitation was held from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Wednesday, July 5, 2017, at the Renner-Wikoff Chapel and Crematory, Urbana. Funeral services were held at 1:00 p.m. Wednesday at the funeral home. Burial was at Grandview Memorial Gardens, Champaign. Dottie was born on September 28, 1935 in Urbana, the daughter of Loren R. and Thelma L. Spradling McHenry. She married Edward Eveland (CHS 1951) on February 21, 1953, in Champaign and he survives. Also surviving are two sons, three daughters, one brother, three sisters, eight grandchildren and ten great-grandchildren. She was preceded in death by two sisters and one brother. Dottie owned and operated Eveland Ceramics until she retired. She was a member of the VFW Post 5520 Women's Auxiliary and the National Ceramics Association. Memorial contributions may be made to the American Cancer Society.
(Source: The News-Gazette, Sunday, July 2, 2017)

Margaret attended Champaign Junior High School, and in the ninth grade she was assigned to homeroom 9-9.
(Source: The 1950 Retro)
At Champaign Senior High School she participated in Wig 'n' Paint, GAA, Elstaff, Commercial Club, and was Secretary in her senior year of the International Office Occupations Association club activity. The comment with her senior picture in the yearbook reads..."She, with her class, just wouldn't tarry, but hustled off her love to marry."
(Source: The 1953 Maroon, page 31)

Submitted by Phil Matteson
Wednesday, July 5, 2017


Champaign Central High School, formerly Champaign Senior High School in 1953, playing the Class 3A State Baseball Tournament on Saturday, June 10, ended their season at Silver Cross Field in Joliet against Marmion Cadets with a 7-1 loss.
The Maroons (30-11-1) completed a dream season under Coach John Staab by finishing with a fourth-place trophy in the tournament. A fourth-place finish is the best for Champaign since the program placed second in 1940, the first year of the State Tournament.
(Source: The News-Gazette, Sunday, June 11, 2017)

Our Maroon baseball team in 1953 was coached by Tom Stewart. The team won all their non-conference games and ended the season with a 17-10 record. Classmate Bob Slade was a letter winner and leading slugger with a .416 batting average. Other CHS 1953 classmates who played baseball and earned letters were: Bob Alsip, Dwight Bennett, Wendell Hull, and Tom Meeks.
(Source: The 1954 Maroon, pages 126 and 127)

Submitted by Phil Matteson
June 13, 2017


Donna Ann Davis, 82, daughter of Harold and Betty Davis of Urbana, passed away on Monday, May 1, 2017, due to lung cancer. She was born on March 19, 1935 in Danville, Illinois. Davis leaves behind one sister, Jo Alice Hellmich; one son, James Brown; three grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren. Davis was preceded in death by her daughter, Kathy Mann. She leaves behind her long-time friend, Jim Kippes of Dewey.

Davis was a life-long educator and outdoor enthusiast, and she retired from the Urbana school system as a grade school teacher. She was a member of the Arrowhead Sages Bowling League, and she enjoyed playing bridge with her friends. Davis will be cremated and her remains will be scattered in Montana.

Memorial donations may be made in her name to the National Park of your choice or the St. Joseph Library. Please join her family in sharing memories on her Tribute Wall at
(Source: The news-Gazette, Wednesday, May 3, 2017)

Donna enjoyed dramatics during her sophomore, junior and senior years at Champaign High School. She retained membership in Wig 'n' Paint each year by working on the Stunt Show, Fall Play, Christmas Play, Mid-Winter Play, and Exchange Assembly productions. This work qualified her for National Thespians membership. Also, she participated in GAA and Maroonafins, and served on the Class Ring Committee and Junior-Senior Prom Committee. The quote with her senior picture in the Maroon yearbook reads...."She's a quiet girl - sometimes."
(Source: The 1953 Maroon, page 25)

Submitted by Phil Matteson
May 4, 2017


On November 11, 2016, at 10:00 a.m., in the Chapel at Woodlawn Cemetery, Urbana, Illinois, a Memorial Service was held for classmate Sharon Ruth (Cruthers) Van Doren, who died December 25, 2015, and her husband, Dr. Carlton S. Van Doren, who died July 29, 2016. A gathering of about 20, including family, friends, and classmates Sharon (Lappin) Lumsden and Phil Matteson filled the small Chapel. The Rev. Carolyn H. Eklund traveled from St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Brunswick, Maine to officiate the service. The opening passage was followed by a hymn, as well as a First Reading poem by daughter, Abigail Van Doren, and a Second Reading poem by daughter, Rebecca (Van Doren) Minear. Then, the Homily was given by Rev. Eklund, followed by welcome comments and thanks to friends in attendance from daughters Abbie and Becky. After the service in the Chapel, those assembled traveled to the burial site, which was a Cruthers family plot, where they made a circle around the plot. Upon placement of the Urn containing ashes of both Sharon and Carlton into the grave, the Rev. Eklund recited a prayer while casting dirt into the grave...."earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust." Family members followed, placing dirt into the grave. Rev. Eklund led the assembled with the Lord's Prayer, blessed the people, and presented the dismissal ending with a .... "Alleluia."

All were cordially invited to join family for lunch at The Big Grove Tavern in downtown Champaign.
Submitted by Phil Matteson
November 12, 2016


A telephone call from classmate, Nancy (Klopfenstein) Davis, provided news of a recent classmate death.

Mary Elizabeth “Beth” (Sonderskov) Maley, age 81, of Brewster, NY, died October 8, 2016 in Danbury, CT. Beth was born on June 16, 1935 in Champaign - Urbana Illinois to the late Robert and Alice Beth (Foster) Sonderskov. She graduated from Champaign High School in 1953 in Champaign, IL. After she graduated from high school she attended the University of Illinois at Champaign and transferred to Illinois State University where she received a bachelor degree in education. She worked for one year at a public school in the suburbs of Chicago before moving to NY. She continued her education in NY at Hunter College receiving her first of two Master’s degrees in deaf education. Her second Master’s degree was received from Leeman College in speech and language.

On May 1, 1965 Beth married Fred Maley in Summit, New Jersey. She and Fred moved to Brewster, NY in 1969. Fred predeceased Beth on December 1, 2015. Together they were members of the First United Methodist Church of Brewster, where she was a junior choir director and a youth group leader. She was an active member of the Putnam Chorale for the last 16 years where she was the president. Beth was also a member of the American speech and hearing association. Beth began her career as a teacher of the deaf in NYC before continuing in 1974 as a speech pathologist at BOCES in Yorktown, NY before retiring in early 1996. Beth had a love for music, which originated from her childhood and included singing and playing the piano. She appreciated life and her family. Beth was always there for her children. She was a brownie leader of Den mothers and never missed a moment of their life. She valued the life she and Fred created. Beth was a humanitarian, always helping others. Even with allergies to animals, she helped all types of animals in need.

Beth is survived by her two children, Alison Voisine and Matthew Maley, as well as her brother Robert Sonderskov. Also, three granddaughters. A memorial Service will be held on Sunday, November 13, 2016 at 1:00 pm at the First United Methodist Church of Brewster, 83 Main Street, Brewster, NY. A reception will follow at the church. A private cremation was held earlier. Beecher Funeral Home assisted the family with arrangements. Contributions in Mrs. Maley’s memory may be made to the Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation, 5526 West 13400 South #510, Salt Lake City, Utah 84096 and/or Putnam Chorale, P.O. Box 982, Carmel, NY.
(Source: Beecher Funeral Home, Brewster, NY)

During Champaign High School days, Beth was known as Molliebeth. She enjoyed singing in A Cappella Choir and Vocalettes, along with drama activities in Wig ‘n’ Paint, performing in a number of play productions. In her senior year, she was in newly-organized Future Teachers of America as one of the charter members, serving as Historian. It is interesting that her music and teaching interests at CHS developed further in her adult life. The caption with her senior picture in the yearbook reads….”Always happy, always gay, laughing and talking the livelong day.”
(Source: The 1953 Maroon, page 38)

Submitted by Phil Matteson
November 6, 2016


The Champaign High School Class of 1956 arrived in Champaign for their 60th reunion this weekend.
This was the last high school class to graduate from the Green Street building location. They conducted a "moving day" in 1956, with each student helping move library books, materials and supplies to the Champaign Junior High School building on University Avenue, which then became Champaign High School starting with the class of 1957.

The CHS 1956 group gathered Friday evening, July 8, at the old Coca-Cola Bottling Plant building on South Neil Street, which has now been converted to the Papa Del's Pizza Factory. This casual evening was attended by about 90+ graduates and guests, with a private pizza buffet and bar.

On Saturday evening, July 9, the class of about 100+ went to the Champaign Country Club for an informal dinner, followed by a "pass the mic" program. A piano player provided background music during dinner. The reunion organizer indicated this would be their last class reunion.

Submitted by Phil Matteson July 10, 2016


A quiet and friendly group of about 90 people gathered at noon on Saturday, July 2, at the American Legion Hall in Pesotum for an informal celebration of life for Tom Meeks, who was a US Army Veteran. Tom's family, including his first wife Karen Newhope, and second wife Lorita, who are good friends, greeted everyone with a request to sign the guest book. Interment was at 4:00 p.m. at St. Joseph's Cemetery in Pesotum, which is the same cemetery where his son is buried. It was Tom's desire to have his ashes near his son, Tommy, who took his life at age 18.
The Champaign High School Class of 1953 was represented to remember our classmate Tom. In attendance were Gene Fincham, Tom Hammersmith, Phil Matteson, Terry O'Neill, Bob Slade, Shirley Schweighart, and Ron Stahl, who attended Lincoln Grade School and CJHS with Tom before continuing school in Urbana.

Submitted by Phil Matteson
July 2, 2016


Thomas W. Meeks, 80, of Camarillo, California, formerly of Champaign, died October 22, 2015, at Los Robles Hospital, Thousand Oaks, California. A celebration of life for the U.S. Army veteran will be at noon July 2 at the American Legion Hall in Pesotum. A light lunch will be provided. Interment will be at 4 p.m. July 2 at St. Joseph's Cemetery, Pesotum.
(Source: The News-Gazette, Sunday, June 26, 2016.)

Submitted by Phillip K. Matteson
June 26, 2016


Erma Jean (Knupp) Pemberton, age 80, of Howell, Michigan, passed away at her home Tuesday, July 7, 2015. She was born February 20, 1935 in Toledo, Illinois. After some time as a foster care child, Erma was adopted by Donald and Constance (Bidwell) Carter. She enrolled at the University of Illinois in the Fall of 1953, but later transferred to Southern Illinois University, graduating in 1957 with a Bachelor's Degree in Teaching. While in Carbondale, Illinois attending school, she met Ronald D. Pemberton and they were married on May 3, 1958. She and her husband relocated to Howell, Michigan and Erma began teaching Special Education in Detroit public schools, retiring in 1967. She was involved with the Great Lakes New Foundland Dog Club. She was preceded in death by her husband Ronald, who passed away on July 22, 2002 and her daughter, Jo, in 2014. She is survived by her daughters, Lisa, Beth, and Ann; four grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. Memorial contributions may be made to the Livingston County Meals on Wheels.
(Source: MacDonald's Funeral Home, Howell, Michigan)

In the early 1950s, Erma lived at 706 South Fourth Street, Champaign in a house owned by Clyde W. Titus. (Source: Champaign and Urbana City Directory 1950) At Champaign Junior High School during her ninth-grade school year 1949-1950, she was assigned to Homeroom 9-5 and participated in Girls' Glee Club, Junior Red Cross, Future Homemakers of America, and Sewing Club. The Fall Revue production in the CJHS gym on the evening of November 3, 1949 was a fun time for Erma, who performed in the Hop Scotch Polka Act along with her classmate friends Donna Carter, Ruth Bulkley, Sarita Alexander, and Carol Sue Stahl.
(Source: The 1950 Retro)

At Champaign High School, she participated on the Maroon Yearbook staff, Wig 'n' Paint drama, Girls' Athletic Association, Senior Class Stunt Show, and Future Teachers of America. The caption with her senior picture in the yearbook says...."A girl with a wealth of golden hair."
(Source: The 1953 Maroon)

According to her daughter Ann in a recent telephone conversation, Erma always referred to her years in Champaign at CJHS and CHS as enjoyable years. She was unable to attend class reunions due to distance and schedule, however her thoughts were with us.

Classmate Ruth Bulkley Warfield provided the news about Erma's passing.

Submitted by Phil Matteson
April 11, 2016


Sharon Ruth (Cruthers) Van Doren, 80, formerly of College Station, TX, and Anderson, SC, passed away peacefully of natural causes at the Mid Coast Hospital in Brunswick, ME, on December 25, 2015.
She is survived by her husband of 60 years, Dr. Carlton S. Van Doren of Anderson, SC; her daughter Abigail Van Doren and son-in-law Paul Womer of Brunswick, ME; her daughter Rebecca (Van Doren) Minear and son-in-law Scott Minear of Houston, TX; and her granddaughter Mallory Minear also of Houston. Sharon was born in Urbana, IL, attended the University of Illinois, and received her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of South Dakota in Vermillion. Sharon taught at elementary schools in South Dakota and Michigan. Later, with her fondness for travel, she was a travel agent for A&M Travel in College Station. Throughout her life, she had a great love of small dogs who accompanied her everywhere. Accordingly, in lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals or to a local animal humane society or shelter of the donor’s choice. There will be a private memorial service for Sharon at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Brunswick at a date and time to be determined. Interment will be at Woodlawn Cemetery in Urbana. Condolences may be expressed to the family at
Arrangements are under the care of Funeral Alternatives, 8 Pleasant St. Brunswick, Maine,
(Source: Anderson Independent Mail - 12/29/2015)

Sharon was born on July 1, 1935 to Clarence W. and Lucille Cruthers. During the early 1950s she lived with her parents at 608 West Washington Street. Her father was a clerk at the Champaign Post Office.
(Source: Champaign and Urbana City Directory 1949)

At Champaign Junior High School, with the Class of 1950 during ninth grade, Sharon was in Homeroom 9-1. She appeared in the "Down at the Station" production act in the 1949 Fall Revue. Also, she was very busy as Editor-in-Chief of the 1950 Retro Yearbook and Secretary of the Student Council
(Source: The 1950 Retro)

At Champaign Senior High School, with the Class of 1953, Sharon was named Outstanding Student for the month of March 1953. She was chosen for her good citizenship and wide participation in school activities. Being very active in dramatics and music, she was also in Thespians, Wig 'n' Paint, and was a member of the Drama Board. She was likewise an active member of the A Capella Choir, Vocalettes, and Baton Club. Sharon represented her school both as Vice President of the Student Council and as a member of the student cast for the "Maroon and White Teen-Age Tune Time," a radio program on WDWS heard every other Saturday morning. She was also Secretary of the Student Council in her junior year.
(Source: The Champaign Chronicle, Friday, March 13, 1953)

The caption with her senior picture in the Maroon Yearbook reads...."Pretty hair, sunny smile, laughing and joking all the while."
(Source: The 1953 Maroon, page 24)

Sharon did not attend our class reunions in recent years because of the travel distance and health issues. However, she always remembered her CHS 1953 classmates by sending a personal note offering wishes for a successful reunion evening in Champaign.

On behalf of CHS 1953 classmates, I thank Sharon's daughter, Abigail Van Doren, for wanting to share the obituary information regarding her mother.

Submitted by Phil Matteson
December 30, 2015

Maroon Basketball celebrated Alumni Night during and after Friday's, December 4, home opener at Combes Gymnasium. First-year coach, Jeff Finke, wanted to get energy and excitement around the program by inviting former coaches, players, and managers to meet the current players. Alumni watched the game as a group in the bleachers behind the CHS bench, and attended a meet-and-greet gathering after the game. During half-time, Ted Beach (CHS 1947) and George Shapland (CHS 1949) were recognized as outstanding alumni. In this home opener, CHS was nervous at the start. During a five-minute stretch in the first quarter, the Maroons could not break the Normal West zone. Then, in the fourth quarter, they started to run their offense with good scoring. CHS won the game 56-46. I attended this Alumni Night to represent myself, along with other CHS 1953 players and managers, who were affiliated with CHS basketball. Unable to attend were: Captain Stan Butts, Ted Appel, Jack Dixon, Wally Heintzen, Larry Hopkins, Louie Mays, Bob Selvey, Bob Slade, and Ray Wise.

With the crowd and buzzer noise, I was back in thought to 1951, 1952 and 1953. My thoughts were with our deceased CHS classmates who participated in basketball. In memory were Tom Carleton, Ron Koch, Tom Meeks, and Ray Schalk.

Submitted by Phil Matteson
December 6, 2015


Janet L. Gray passed away last March 11, 2015 in Champaign. She worked for many years with, and retired from, the Illinois Department of Public Health in Champaign as an Office Associate.
(Source: Champaign High School Alumni Directory 2008, page 95.)

Janet never married and was preceded in death by her parents and twin brother, Louis (CHS 1953), who died February 5, 2004. She is survived by a niece, Nina L. West, who is the Independent Executor of the Estate. Janet was cremated after her death and funeral arrangements are still incomplete at Heath & Vaughn Funeral Home and Tribute Center, 201 North Elm Street, Champaign, IL 61820.

Janet attended Gregory Grade School where she started to attend a special sight-seeing class to help improve her sight. In 1950 she graduated from ninth grade at Champaign Junior High School. At Champaign Senior High School, she was interested in singing by being in the Concert Choir during her sophomore year, and in the A Capella Choir during her junior year. Her real interest was in Junior Red Cross during all three years at CHS.

In the yearbook, for some unknown reason, Janet had her name incorrectly shown as Mary, which was her mother's name. The caption with her senior picture reads...."She's quiet and good natured."
(Source: The 1953 Maroon, page 27)

Submitted by Phil Matteson
November 17, 2015


An email message has been received from Lorita Meeks stating Thomas "Tom" Wayne Meeks, 80, of Camarillo, California passed away 9:30 p.m. on Thursday, October 22, 2015. He was born on March 27, 1935 in Urbana, the son of W. Cecil Meeks and Ella May Meeks. His father was a Foreman at Swift Soy Bean Mill.
(Source: Champaign and Urbana City Directory 1949)

During the late 1940s, Tom lived with his parents at 9 East Springfield Avenue in Champaign and attended Lincoln Grade School, where he played sixth grade basketball. At Champaign Junior High School, during ninth grade in 1950, he was assigned to 9-2 homeroom and was a letter winner in football playing quarterback and in basketball playing guard.
(Source: The 1950 Retro)

At Champaign Senior High School Tom continued to prefer sports; however, he participated in Student Council during his sophomore year. During his senior year he was on the committee to plan Senior Skip Day and was voted King of the Vice-Versa Dance. In sports, he was on the football team, played basketball, being voted most valuable in 1953, and played baseball, being elected captain of the 1953 team. Tom earned membership in the "C" Club during both his junior and senior years by earning a letter and having active participation in sports. The caption with his senior picture in the yearbook reads...."When he fights, he fights to win."
(Source: The 1953 Maroon, page 33)

After graduation from CHS in 1953, Tom worked a short period of time at Goodell Engineering in Champaign, along with classmate Eddie Castor, until he joined the US Army and served for two years. After service, he briefly worked as Produce Manager at the Eisner Grocery Store in Champaign. Then, he was employed 37 years for the US Postal Service, becoming Postmaster in Sadorus, Illinois. He moved to California where he married Lorita in 1994. Tom worked eighteen years at Guardsmark doing security work in California, until he retired in 2014. Survivors include Lorita, first wife Karen Newhope, daughters Cheri Tingly of Iowa, Cyndi Heimerich of California, sons Scott Meeks of California and Eric Meeks of Colorado. Also surviving are one brother, Vachel Meeks (CHS 1950), and one sister, Pamela Fulfer, eleven grandchildren and one great-grandchild. He was preceded in death by his parents and a son, Tommy Meeks.

Tom attended our 50th class reunion in 2003 and said that he had a good time returning to Champaign for a visit, spending a lot of time with Ron Koch. However, Tom stated in 2013 that he lost interest in returning again after learning that Ron had passed away.

Submitted by Phil Matteson
October 27, 2015


Classmate Terry O'Neill and his wife, Julie, have T-shirts, hats, and magnets to prove that they are a pair of Houston Astros baseball fans in Champaign, which is definitely Cubs and Cardinals territory. They cheer the Astros because their son, Dan, works for the baseball team. A former Champaign and Illinois baseball star, Dan is Houston's manager of team operations, handling everything from travel arrangements to ticket distribution. Terry pays extra to his Cable company so that every Astors game is available on his 32" TV. And if the Astros keep winning? If they reach the World Series, Terry and Julie will be there. Until then, the long-time Illini fans will watch from their cozy house on West John Street, where they have lived together for 53 years, and where Terry grew up.
(Source: The News-Gazette, Saturday, October 10, 2015)

Prior to post-season Game 3 of the American League Division Series at Houston today, the series with the Kansas City Royals is tied 1-1.
Submitted by Phil Matteson
October 11, 2015


Sad news has been received from classmate Nancy (Klopfenstein) Davis that Mary Jane (Bruggeman) Stevens, 79, of Downers Grove, Illinois passed away on Tuesday, September 16, 2015. She was the daughter of Charles A. and Kathleen Bruggeman, and wife of Philip Stevens. Mary Jane is survived by three children: Perry, Sandra and Jeffrey; five grandchildren; two great-grandchildren, and her sister, Freda A. (Bruggeman) Breland (CHS 1949). She was preceded in death by her parents and husband. Visitation will be 3 to 9:00 p.m. Sunday, September 20, at Hallowell & James Funeral Home, 301 75th Street, Downers Grove. Funeral service will be 10:30 a.m. Monday, September 21, at Faith United Methodist Church, 59th Street and Fairview Avenue, Downers Grove. Interment will be in Clarendon Hills Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be given to Faith United Methodist Church or American Cancer Society. (Source: Chicago Tribune Media Group)

During the 1940s and 1950s, Mary Jane lived with her parents at 912 West Healey Street, which was a "Sears Roebuck House." Her father was Store Manager of the Sears Roebuck & Co. store in downtown Champaign. After attending South Side grade school, Mary Jane graduated from Champaign Junior High School in 1950. At CJHS during ninth grade, she was assigned to homeroom 9-2, appeared in the Fall Revue act entitled Casey Jones, and participated in Girls' Glee Club, Future Homemakers of America, and Drama Club. At Champaign High School, Mary Jane graduated with the class of 1953, where she was active in Wig 'n' Paint, GAA, A Capella Choir, and Vocalettes all three years. Besides theatre including National Thespians, sports including Maroonafins, and singing groups, she was very involved during her senior year serving as Class Treasurer, being a Class Memorial Committee member, and taking part in the Stunt Show, Musical Moods, and FTA. The caption with her senior picture in the yearbook reads...."Pep, personality, and perseverance personified." (Source: The 1953 Maroon, page 22) After CHS graduation, Mary Jane attended and enjoyed each class reunion with her husband and friends.

Submitted by Phil Matteson
September 20, 2015


A telephone call has been received from a local relative of classmate Roy Feldcamp, with information that Roy passed away August 5, 2015 in Springfield, Illinois. Details are somewhat incomplete without an obituary, however he recently had simple surgery for gallbladder removal and developed complications from the surgery. Roy married his wife, JoAnn, May 2, 1957 in Altamont, Illinois, where they resided for the past 56 years. In Altamont, Roy owned his own small engine repair business.

At CHS, Roy was in Future Farmers of America during each school year. From incomplete reunion records and recollections, Roy never returned to Champaign for a CHS 1953 class reunion. The caption with his senior picture in The 1953 Maroon reads...."A good lad, and cheerful."
(Source: The 1953 Maroon, page 26)

Submitted by Phil Matteson, August 9, 2015


Donnabelle Kirby, 105, departed this life on Thursday, May 21, 2015. She was born on July 10, 1909 in rural Douglas County. She married Francis "Frank" Kirby on June 25, 1945 at University Place Christian Church, Champaign. He departed this life on June 10, 1995. Mrs. Kirby is survived by a nephew, two nieces, and 18 great-nephews and great-nieces. She was preceded in death by her parents, two brothers, three sisters, six nieces and nephews, and one great-nephew. Mrs. Kirby received her Bachelor of Science and Masters degrees in Education, and completed course work toward a Ph.D. in Physical Education from the University of Illinois. While a student at the University of Illinois, she excelled in track and field, gymnastics, soccer, and field hockey. In the spring of 1928, at a Woman's Track and Field event with Big 10 schools participating, she set a new track record of 11.6 seconds in the 100-yard dash. In 2003, at the age of 94, she was awarded a Varsity "I" because of her participation in women's sports at the University of Illinois.

Her teaching career began at the Baldwin School in Sadorus Township. Her transportation to school was to ride her horse "Molly" from her parent's country home in Douglas County. One of the farmers near the school kept "Molly" until the school day was over, when she and "Molly" returned home. In the fall of 1929, she was hired for the Pesotum school system. In 1936, she joined the Decatur school system, followed in 1943 by a move to LaGrange at Lyons Township High School. In the fall of 1945, Mrs. Kirby began her long and highly successful career in the Champaign Unit 4 schools....first at Champaign Junior High School, and then in 1956 to Edison Junior High School, from which she retired as Senior Physical Education teacher and Chairman of the Department.

Memorial donations in remembrance may be made to the donor's choice. Visitation will be from 5 to 7:00 p.m. Thursday, May 28, at Morgan Memorial Home. Funeral services will be at 1:00 p.m. Friday, May 29, at the funeral home. Burial will follow in Mt. Hope Cemetery, Champaign.
(Source: The News-Gazette, Tuesday, May 26, 2015)

Submitted by Phil Matteson
May 27, 2015


Last year there was a dedication of the new Roger Ebert statue located in front of Champaign's Historic Virginia Theatre. Even though Roger is no longer with us, the Ebertfest continues.

Photos courtesy of JoAnn (Joyce) Pairman, CHS 1958

In 1915, an audience estimated at 800 was present for the formal dedication of the new Champaign High School building on West Green Street, held in the school auditorium. Architect, N.S. Spencer, turned over the building's keys to W. L. Gray, president of the school board. Spencer, in his address, said the building was in the shadow of the greatest University in the middle West and the high school soon would be the greatest in the middle West.
(Source: The News-Gazette, Wednesday, May 6, 2015)

Submitted by Phil Matteson
May 6, 2015


In 1915, elaborate preparations were being made for next week's Home Coming at Champaign High School, including the official opening of the new school on West Green Street by the Board of Education on May 5. A May festival would occur on May 6. An Alumni program would be May 7, and the eighth annual Alumni Dinner served in the new gymnasium of the new high school, was to be Saturday, May 8. A five-piece orchestra would furnish music during the dinner and for a dance at 9:00 p.m.
(Source: The News-Gazette, Wednesday, April 29, 2015)

Submitted by Phil Matteson
May 4,2015


Word has been received from classmate Shirley Price Taylor that her friend, Shirley Pheris Foster of Huffman, Texas, died after fighting cancer for about two years. Additional information was obtained in a telephone conversation with sister-in-law, Helen Merry Pheris (CHS 1952) that Shirley was born on August 8, 1935 to William and Helen Mack Pheris. She married Ben Foster in 1956, and during their early married years his work with Lockheed Aircraft had them moving to Michigan, California, and ending in Houston, Texas where he worked as a Field Technician for NASA. Shirley retired from Pepsi-Cola of Houston, Texas as an Administrative Assistant. She was preceded in death by her parents, seven brothers and sisters, husband Ben, and daughter Kimberly. She is survived by sons Bill and Kevin, and five grandchildren living in the Houston, Texas area.

Shirley attended kindergarten and grade school in Champaign prior to Champaign Junior High School and graduation from Champaign Senior High School. In ninth grade (1949-1950), she was in home room 9-9 and participated in the Fall Revue as a member of a girl's group performing tumbling feats.
(Source: The 1950 Retro, pages 46 and 62)

As a junior at CHS (1951-1952) she was a member of G.A.A. and the Commercial Club. In her senior year at CHS (1952-1953), she continued in Commercial Club and took part in Office Occupations. The caption with her senior picture in the 1953 Maroon Yearbook reads...."She doesn't say much, but her smiles say all."
(Source: The 1953 Maroon, page 35)

Submitted by Phil Matteson
December 7, 2014


Champaign school board members were presented by two members with a proposal for what to do with the current high school building (formerly Champaign Junior High School) if and when the new Central High opens in September 2017. The proposal is to convert the building into a mixed-use public/private development called a "Live/Work Community." Under the proposal, all Administrative functions would move from the Mellon Administrative Center to the first and second floors. Another section of the building would be where small business ventures are identified and started. Part of one floor and the basement would be converted into leased office suites, artist's lofts, and an art gallery. The shops and kitchens would be for rental use, and Combes Gym and the theatre would be for community functions.
(Source: The News-Gazette, Tuesday, March 18, 2014.)

However, prior to March 18 a committee made up of teachers, principals, parents and students recommended moving Edison Middle School to the building. For Champaign voters, the choice on November 4 is simple: accept a hefty property tax hike or reject a proposal to fix the two public high schools. But one decision you won't have to make, if the Unit 4 Champaign Schools Superintendent has anything to say about it, is whether to pay for replacing 79-year old Central High, or renovating 51 year-old Centennial High. They are a package deal.
(Source: The News- Gazette, Friday, April 4, 2014.)

From the Unit 4 point of view, the where-to-build-a-new-Central is over. Its official end will come in May when Unit 4 becomes the sole owner of 80 acres of farmland in northern most Champaign. The plot will cost the district $3.2 million, or $40,000 an acre.
(Source: The News-Gazette, Friday, April 4, 2014.)

The Champaign Unit 4 school administration and board are relentless in their determination to create a new high school campus somewhere in north nowhere. Is there a Plan B if the deck of cards put up by the board should fail?
(Source: Guest commentary by Dannel McCollum, a former Champaign Mayor, The News-Gazette, Sunday, April 13, 2014.)

One thing Champaign school board members can agree on: it's time to replace the one building in the District that is older than Wrigley Field. It's Dr. Howard Elementary School.
(Source: The News-Gazette, Wednesday, April 16, 2014)

It was good to see that the Champaign-Urbana area was rated No. 5 in the nation in Smart Growth America's rating of compact metropolitan areas. The Champaign School District's decision to locate a new high school on the very edge of town will promote urban sprawl, raise transportation costs for the families of the students and staff, and isolate the new campus from the rest of the community. The plan should be scraped.
(Source: From Our Readers, The News-Gazette, Wednesday, April 23, 2014.)

In the "Comedy of Errors" that has characterized the Champaign School Board and Administration, the latest scene was to hire a firm to conduct a rather confusing poll as to where and under what circumstances the public wants the proposed new high school to be located. With the results in, the school Superintendent said she "fears" that the questions "weren't clear enough."
(Source: From Our Readers, The News-Gazette, Sunday, June 15, 2014.)

With more questions than answers about a proposed tax hike to pay for school construction, the Unit 4 Superintendent sometimes finds herself at a loss for words. "I wish I could say more. But so much is up in the air right now," she said.
(Source: The News-Gazette, Sunday, July 6, 2014.)

A new Champaign Central High School will have to wait, at least until next April, or possibly longer. By a 1,200-vote margin on November 4, voters turned down the plan to build a new $97.7 million Central High School on the northern edge of town and $51.3 million to renovate Centennial High School, the largest school construction proposal in county history.
(Source: The News-Gazette, Wednesday, November 5, 2014.)

Submitted by Phil Matteson
November 23, 2014


Barbara June Cook Williams, 79, transitioned peacefully on Sunday, September 28, 2014, at her Urbana home surrounded by her family and dedicated caregivers. Barbara was a resident of Urbana for the past 32 years. She was a graduate of Champaign High School in 1953. Then, she attended Tennessee State University followed by work for the School City of Gary, Indiana. She retired from Governors State University in 1987. Barbara was preceded in death by her father, Earnest T. Cook; mother, Nettie L. Cook; and brother, Gernon Head. She is survived by her husband, Willie J. Williams; two daughters; and two grandsons. Barbara was a devoted mother, wife, skilled homemaker, gifted interior designer with a knack for silk flower arrangements, and a master gardener of flowers and vegetables. Celebration of life memorial services will be held at 11:00 a.m. Saturday, October 11, at Stone Creek Church, 2502 South Race, Street, Urbana, IL 61801. In lieu of other expressions of sympathy, please make donations to the Alzheimer's Association.
(Source: The News-Gazette, Sunday, October 5, 2014)

During the 1950s, Barbara's father and his brother operated Cook Brothers cleaners with locations at 505 North Fourth Street and 21 Main Street in Champaign. Barbara lived with her parents at 412 East Church Street.
(Source: The Champaign-Urbana City Directory 1950)

At Champaign Junior High School in 1949-1950, Barbara was in 9-7 homeroom and sang with Girls Glee Club. (Source: The 1950 Retro, page 40) She continued singing in the Concert Choir at CHS during her sophomore and junior years, along with being on the Class Ring Committee. In her 1953 senior year, she participated in Wig 'n' Paint, the Stunt Show and served on the Class Memorial Committee. The caption with her senior picture in the yearbook reads, "A winning way, a pleasant smile, dresses so neat, and much in style."
(Source: The 1953 Maroon, page 24)

Submitted by Phil Matteson
October 8, 2014


Information has been received that Carolyn "Sue" Fletcher Batchelor, 79, of Palm Bay, Florida passed away Wednesday, July 16, 2014. A native of Champaign, IL, Sue moved to Florida in 1985. She was a member of the VFW Ladies Auxillary, Moose Lodge, and American Legion. She enjoyed Bingo with friends and doing crossword puzzles.

She is survived by her husband of 59 years, William "Bill" Batchelor; son, David L. Batchelor of Port St. Lucie; daughter, Judith Newhouse of Palm Bay; sister, Barbara Ann Truitt of Illinois; 6 grandchildren, and 15 great-grandchildren.
(Source: Fountainhead Funeral Home, July 24, 2014)


Belated information has been received that Donna Carter Reifschneider, 76, passed away January 15, 2012 in Scottsbluff, Nebraska. Burial took place at Bayard Cemetery in Scottsbluff. Donna was born October 9, 1935 in Ogden to James and Virginia Eubanks Carter. She attended grade school in Ogden and continued at Champaign Junior High School when her family moved to Champaign. She graduated from Champaign Senior High School in 1953. She worked for Supreme Bakers as a finance clerk. In 1954, she met Kenneth and was married September 8, 1954. They moved to Fairbanks, Alaska for two years. After Ken's discharge from the Air Force, they moved to a farm near Minatare, Nebraska, where they farmed for forty years until retiring to Scottsbluff in 1990. Donna was a long-time member of the Zion Evangelical Church where she taught Sunday school, sang in the church choir, and was a member of the Valley Voices. She loved to garden and raise flowers, being awarded the Golden Spade numerous times. She served on the Scottsbluff Extension Council, was a 4-H leader, member of Women's Guild, and a member of the Pleasant Hour Extension Club for 35 years. She loved to travel and go fishing with Ken. Their travels took them to Spain, Africa, Germany, Austria, Canada, Alaska, Hawaii, the Bahamas, and across the United States. Donna is survived by her husband of 57 years, Kenneth; son Jeffrey; daughter Paula; brother Jim (CHS 1961); four grandchildren, and numerous nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her parents, two sons, and two brothers.
(Source: Jolliffe Funeral Home, January 19, 2012)

During the early 1950s, Donna lived with her family at 507 South Randolph Street. Her father was treasurer of R&P Motors, Inc. Packard Motor Car Sales & Service located at 511-513 South Neil Street.
(Source: Champaign-Urbana City Directory 1950)

Upon moving to Champaign from Ogden, Donna attended CJHS ninth grade 1949-1950 in homeroom 9-4. She participated in the Spring Opera as part of a three-girl group, which included her, Barbara Alexander, and Mary Cochran. Then, she took part in the Fall Review "Hopscotch Polka" act with Carol Sue Stahl, Erma Knupp, Ruth Bulkley, and Sarita Alexander. Donna sang in the Girls Glee Club and the select group of Choralettes, along with joining the activity clubs of Future Homemakers of America and Girls' Sports.
(Source: The 1950 Retro)

At CHS 1950-1953, Donna joined the Girls' Ensemble and continued her music and music and singing interests in the band, A Capella choir and Vocalettes. The quote with her senior yearbook picture reads...."Always nice , always kind."
(Source: The 1953 Maroon, page 23)

Submitted by Phil Matteson
May 22, 2014


From an obituary for Alora Bowles (CHS 1947) in The News-Gazette last month, the article revealed that her brother and our classmate, Quinton Bowles, preceded her in death. Additional information about Quinton was obtained by telephone conversation with his other sister, Barneda Bowles Waddell (CHS 1941).
Quinton O. Bowles passed away on February 9, 2014 in Columbia, Maryland. He was born in 1935 in Champaign, being one of eight children born to Theotto and Luvata (Cabell) Bowles. He was survived by his wife Alfreda, who now resides in a nursing home, and four siblings; Barneda (CHS 1941), Theola (CHS 1943), Alora (CHS 1947), and Destin (CHS 1949). He was preceded in death by his parents, a son (Daryl), and three siblings; Wilburn, Yvonne, and Morris (CHS 1940).
After CHS graduation in the summer of 1953 and at the request of Don Hamacher, Quinton worked inside at the original Dog n Suds root beer stand at the NW corner of North Prospect Avenue and Bradley Avenue. He served up the only items on the menu, being a 20-cent Coney dog and a mug of root beer. Later, Quinton worked in the home office in charge of shipping root beer and related items of uniforms, paper goods, and root beer labels. Don Hamacher, co-founder of Dog n Suds, stated in his personal memoir published in 2012, that Quinton was a "super employee." Quinton and Alfreda were married in 1958. They both were bowling enthusiasts. Quinton retired as a percussionist with the United States Army Field Band stationed at Fort George G. Meade. He retired from the band after twenty-two years of touring around the world. In 1958, Quinton attended our CHS 1953 45th class reunion, which made Dog n Suds the theme. He was able to reunite with Don Hamacher and Jim Griggs.

During the early 1950s, Quinton lived with his family at 411 West Maple Street and attended Gregory Grade School. His father at this time was a janitor at Piggly Wiggly #1 grocery store located at 130 West Church Street.
(Source: Champaign-Urbana City Directory 1950)

During grade school, Quinton started his interest in playing drums while taking part in the Summer Band Program put on by the Champaign Park District. When he attended Champaign Junior High School from 1947 thru 1950, his interests continued to be in band, along with football. He played the snare drum in band conducted by Mr. Victor Self. In football, coached by Mr. Robert Taylor, Quinton was a letter winner at tackle position for the CJHS Comets.
(Source: The 1950 Retro)

At Champaign Senior High School, Quinton concentrated his participation in music by taking part in playing the majestic kettle symphonic drums in both the orchestra and band, sang in A Capella choir and Troubadors, which earned him membership in the Baton Club. In his sophomore year, he participated in football and joined the Art Club. His main interest in sports was tennis, which he played all three years, winning his "C" and membership in "C" Club. The quote with his senior yearbook picture states...."Humor is the harmony of the heart."
(Source: The 1953 Maroon, page 22)

Submitted by Phil Matteson
May 4, 2014


The CHS Maroons ended the 2012-2013 basketball season 5W - 20L and had not won a Class 3A Regional title in six years. CHS started the current season with new coach Wayne McClain, who previously coached high school championship teams at Peoria Manuel, followed by years as assistant coach under Lou Henson at the University of Illinois.

On Friday night, March 7, the Maroons (16W - 10L) knocked off cross-town rival Centennial (24W - 4L) 50-45 at a sold-out Combes Gym to capture the Class 3A Regional Championship. The Maroons became the best in town, beating both Centennial and Urbana, and now the best in the regional.
(Source: The News-Gazette, Saturday, March 8, 2014)

On Tuesday night, March 11, the Maroons (17W - 10L) beat the second ranked Class 3A team in Illinois, stunning the Springfield Lamphier Lions (25W - 2L) 78-73 in the Class 3A Sectional semi-final game in Mattoon. The Maroons withstood an attacking 1-3-1 zone defense the Lions displayed and made critical plays in the second half to prevail, while never trailing in the game.
(Source: The News-Gazette, Wednesday, March 12, 2014)

On Friday night, March 14, the CHS Maroons (18W - 10L) played top-ranked Lincoln Railsplitters (32W - 2L) in the championship game of the Class 3A Sectional Tournament in Mattoon in front of a sold-out crowd of 2,200. March Madness turned to March sadness, as CHS lost 47-30. The Maroons are not champions of the state, but are definitely champions of Champaign-Urbana for 2014.
(Source: The News-Gazette, Saturday, March 15, 2014)

C-C-CHS! Submitted by Phil Matteson
March 16, 2014


After years of debate, the site selection for a new Central High School will take place Monday night, December 9. The much-anticipated announcement will not take place Monday night. The School District says it will negotiate a contract with the land's seller before revealing the site. The District Superintendent revealed some details:

....The School Board will wait until next fall's election, at the earliest, to ask voters for a property tax increase.
....The School Board will seek a site with at least 47.7 acres.
....The final site will be decided by how each board member ranks a lengthy list of criteria.
....Once the site is selected, the School Board will allow students, faculty and staff members to give their ideas for what the school needs, which will drive both the building's design and how much money to request from taxpayers.

(Source: The News-Gazette, Thursday, December 5, 2013)

Submitted by Phil Matteson
December 22, 2013


Harold "Alex" Alexander, 89, of Arden Hills, Minnesota, passed away on Tuesday, November 5, 2013 in Minnesota. He was born January 4, 1924 in LaHarpe, Illinois. He married Marjorie Roberts on June 13, 1948. He was Professor Emeritus at the University of Illinois (Interior Design 1966-1980) and the University of Minnesota. He is survived by a loving wife, Marjorie, of 65 years of marriage; and five children; Jeffrey, Cassie, Peter, Timothy, and Pat; eight grandchildren, and one great-grandchild. Alex was active in the Episcopal Church of St. John in Champaign, and St. Matthew of St. Paul, Minnesota. Alex loved art, design, reading, writing, flowers, and traveling all around the world. He always had interesting stories to tell. Memorial service will be held at St. Matthew Episcopal Church, 2136 Carter Avenue, St. Paul, Minnesota, on Saturday, November 30, 2013, at 2:00 p.m. Memorials may be made to the McNeely Conservatory at Como Park in St. Paul, Minnesota.
(Source: The News-Gazette, Sunday, November 24, 2013)

At Champaign Senior High School in 1950, the school paper reported new teachers on the staff. The article read....New faculty head of the art department is Mr. H. H. Alexander. After attending Western Illinois State College in Macomb, he completed his studies at the University of Illinois. He now resides in Urbana with his wife and son, Jeffrey, who was born on the 4th of July. Mr. Alexander was in the Air Force three years and has been a practice teacher here. Painting and drama are his chief hobbies.
(Source: The Champaign Chronicle, Vol. XXV No. 2, Friday, September 22, 1950)

In our junior year at CHS, Mr. Alexander was a teacher sponsor, who helped us with our Junior-Senior Prom responsibility. We turned the CJHS gym into a scene from Paris called "Ball Parisian." Outdoor cafes' lined both sides of the gym with the Eifel Tower rising at center court to the rafters. The 1952 Maroon stated that the junior class did an extraordinary job on the prom that will be remembered for a long time to come.
Thank you, Mr. Alexander.

Submitted by: Phillip Matteson
November 24, 2013


.....The Champaign School Board will consider a total of 15 sites for a possible new Champaign Central High School before it starts to narrow that list. The goal is to choose a site for the new high school by the end of the year. More things the Board will have to decide: (1) when to ask taxpayers in an election for a property tax increase, and (2) whether that referendum would ask for money for a new Central High School, or for other renovation projects as well.
(Source: The News-Gazette, Saturday, November 9, 2013)

.....After on-and-off talks dating back almost a decade, Champaign Central High School is closer than ever to having a new mailing address. The school district is considering sites that are 30 acres and larger. That's considerably smaller than the 70 to 80 acres it went searching for in previous years, but a whole lot bigger than the five acres the high school occupies now.
(Source: The News-Gazette, Sunday, November 17, 2013)

.....The six site finalists for the new Champaign Central High School were announced late Monday night by the school board. All sites are located north of the city, over two miles from the current location.
(Source: The News-Gazette, Wednesday, November 20, 1013)

Submitted by: Phil Matteson
November 24, 2013


"It was a real enjoyable evening. The roast beef hot dinner was very good. The displays of downtown Champaign pictures put the town back together during our time growing up." ... Ray Griffet, St. Joseph, Illinois

"I think it was the best reunion we have had over the past sixty years." ... Gene Fincham, Champaign, Illinois

"The committee worked extra details with the maroon and white M&Ms, putting a "M" on the maroon ones and a "W" on the white ones." ... Don Scott, Palatine, Illinois

"No complaints. Very good." ... Richard Haines, Mahomet, Illinois

"Let's get the local classmates here at the reunions. I traveled some distance to attend, and I would like to see and talk to some local classmates." ... Jan Royse, Laramie, Wyoming

"I gave each member of the reunion team an A+ grade." ... Wendell Hull, Durham, North Carolina

"I thoroughly enjoyed the reunion. It was relaxed, fun, and interesting. Lots of nice little touches." ... Wally Heintzen, Hinsdale, Illinois

Our 60th reunion is behind us and part of our class history, along with our previous reunions. With the loyalty of our classmates, we look forward to 2018. Be positive and stay healthy.

CHS 1953 Reunion Committee
July 31, 2013


Mrs. Donnabelle Kirby, B.S., M.S., taught girls' physical education, health, Social Dancing, and Tumbling at CJHS during our 7th, 8th, and 9th grade years in 1948, 1949, 1950. She taught at CJHS from 1945 to 1974. Mrs. Kirby was recognized as a pioneer in girls' athletics, and as being a promoter and administrator responsible for the implementation and development of girls' athletic programs at CJHS. She graduated from the University of Illinois in 1935, and at the age of 94 was the oldest recipient to receive a Varsity "I" letter from the University of Illinois at a Recognition Brunch held in the Assembly Hall on Sunday, November 23, 2003. At this same event, our classmate, Ola Bundy, a 1958 graduate of Illinois was also honored with a Varsity "I" letter. Mrs. Kirby will celebrate her 104th birthday on July 10, 2013. If you would like to wish her a Happy Birthday, send a card to Donnabelle Kirby, Prairie Winds of Urbana, Apt. 210, 1905 Prairie Winds Drive, Urbana, IL 61802.

Submitted by Phil Matteson
July 4, 2013


Martha E. Sloan Liebman, 77, passed away on April 27, 2013, at her home in Redlands, California. She was born on August 11, 1935 in Champaign to Robert D. and Florence C. Sloan. After graduation from Champaign Senior High School in 1953 she attended the University of Illinois before transferring to Southern Illinois University, where she graduated in 1960 with a teaching degree. Martha started her career as an elementary teacher in Los Angeles, where she taught for five years. She married Arthur Liebman in 1966 and continued her teaching career in Redlands, retiring in 1999. Martha loved her Koinonia Bible Study group, where she formed close and living friendships. She enjoyed monthly lunches with retired teachers. Her brightest star was her only grandson. Martha is survived by her husband of nearly 47 years, Arthur; daughter Lori Liebman Bruch; son Brent Liebman; grandson Jacob Bruch; and sister-in-law Mildred Sloan of Phoenix, AZ. A Celebration of Life service was held May 8, 2013. You may honor Martha by contributing to a fund for needy families at the school where she taught. Make check payable to Franklin School, 850 East Colton Avenue, Redlands, CA 92374. On the memo line, indicate in memory of Martha Liebman.
(Source: Telephone conversation with Arthur Liebman and newspaper obituary provided by Classmate Virginia "Ginny" (Hanson) Rose.)

During the early 1950s, Martha lived with her parents at 204 West Ells Avenue. Her father was a pipefitter for ICRR and her mother was a bookkeeper at Busey First National Bank. (Source: Champaign and Urbana City Directory 1950.) In ninth grade, 1949-1950 school year at Champaign Junior High School, Martha was in 9-6 homeroom. She participated in the Girls Glee Club, Future Homemakers of America, and Social Dancing. (Source: CJHS 1950 Retro) At CHS during her sophomore year, she worked on the Chronicle school newspaper staff and participated in G.A.A. (Girls Athletic Association). In her junior year, she continued with the Chronicle and G.A.A., plus served on the Junior-Senior Prom Committee. Then, in her senior year was involved again with G.A.A., along with F.D.A. (Future Distributors of America) as Chapter Reporter. The comment with her CHS 1953 Maroon senior class picture reads...."Friendship is not a plant of easy growth."
(Source: The 1953 Maroon)

Submitted by Phil Matteson
July 1, 2013


Last week on Thursday, I received a telephone call from Tom Meeks in California relaying the news that Ron Koch passed away after a short illness fighting cancer. Tom and Ron normally would share hotel room expenses when attending our reunions. Tom still plans to attend our 60th reunion, which will give him a chance to see his brother, Vachel, who is married to classmate Donna Keene.

Ronald R. "Ron" Koch, a resident of Montgomery, AL passed away May 22, 2013. He attended Purdue University on a football scholarship and later retired as president of Hudson-Thompson Co., a local Montgomery business. A Celebration of Life will be held at 1 pm on Saturday, June 1st at Southern Memorial. Mr. Koch is survived by his wife Nancy Koch; sons, Ron (Angela) Koch, John (Susan) Koch; daughter, Elizabeth Johnson; 6 grand children, 5 great-grandchildren; sisters, Debbie Reeland, Paula Yanney and many many friends.
(Source: Montgomery Adviser, Friday, May 31, 2013)

Ronnie attended Holy Cross Roman Catholic School, graduating from eighth grade in 1949. He continued to ninth grade at Champaign Junior High School with the class of 1950. At CJHS, he was in homeroom 9-5 and was a letter winner, playing End for the Comets football team, and Forward on the basketball squad. At CHS, he participated in football, basketball and track during all three years, earning him "C" Club membership in his junior and senior years. In his sophomore year he was class treasurer. At the annual Champaign Elks banquet after football season Ronnie was elected the Most Valuable Player for the 1952 season. He received the trophy and congratulations from Coach Fred Major at the Elks Club on November 11, 1952. In track, at the Urbana Relays, he placed third in the individual discus event. During these high school days, Ron dated Nancy J. Reed (CHS 1954), who later became his wife. Ron enjoyed returning to Champaign for our class reunions, and he was very involved with our 15th reunion in 1968 when he provided some very nice door prizes.

The caption with his senior class picture reads...."If there's nothing else to do at night, I study."
(Source: The 1953 Maroon, page 30)

Submitted by Phil Matteson
May 31, 2013


From our class reunion invitation mailing last month, we now learn that...
JACQUELINE JOBE DOBBS, of St. Peters, Missouri, died on Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at the age of 77. Loving wife of John "Ed" Dobbs; dear daughter of the late William J. Jobe and Violet Anglin; devoted mother of Debbie (Denis) Wilhelm, John (Susan) Dobbs, and Brett (Tamara) Dobbs; cherished grandmother of Tyson, Bess, Blake, Johnny, Christopher, Sean, Magan, Sherri, and Nicci; loving great-grandmother of Madison, Charlise, Anna, Noah, Braden, and Morgan. She is also survived by her two sisters and one brother. A private service will take place at a later date.
(Source: Internet Obituary Search)

Jackie was born August 9, 1935. During her Junior year at CHS, she particpated in Commercial Club and Rifle Club activities. Then, in her Senior year she continued in Commercial Club, along with Library and I.O.O.A. The caption with her 1953 senior picture in the yearbook reads..."May your heart be ever gay."
(Source: The 1953 Maroon, page 29)

Submitted by Phil Matteson
May 9, 2013


There is an old saying that bad news comes in threes. Well, this has happened to our class, in that Sonny Matteson passed away March 17, and Julia Clark Job on March 24, and now...
Edward Lee Castor, 78, of Danville, formerly of Champaign, died at 4:15 p.m. Thursday, March 28, 2013, at the Veterans Affairs Illiana Health Care System, Danville, Illinois. Graveside services will be at 11:00 a.m. Tuesday at Danville National Cemetery with military rites by American Legion Post 210. Chaplain Brian Manigold will officiate. Rortvedt Funeral Services of Tilton is in charge of arrangements.
(Source: The News-Gazette, Sunday, March 31, 2013)

Eddie was born January 23, 1935, the only child of W. Ralph and Elma Castor. His father was a helper at Hansen Inoculator Co., a bacteriological laboratory on North Lincoln Avenue in Urbana. During the late 1940s and early 1950s, Eddie lived with his parents at 505 South Edwin Street.
(Source: Champaign and Urbana City Directory 1950)
He attended Dr. Howard Grade School. At CJHS in 1950, in the ninth grade, he was in homeroom 9-9.
(Source: CJHS 1950 Retro)
The caption with his CHS 1953 Maroon senior class picture reads..."He's a good boy in school, but have you ever seen him any other place?"
(Source: The 1953 Maroon)

Following in the steps of his father, who served in WWII, Eddie enlisted in the U.S. Army after CHS graduation. In the Army, he was awarded the National Defense Service Medal and a Pistol Marksmanship pin. He was a Korean War veteran serving for two years. After his tour of duty, he encouraged both his sons to serve their country, which they did. Eddie was survived by his sons, Mark and Jeff.

Upon completion of his service duty, Eddie worked for Goodell Engineering, Inc., a civil engineering firm in Champaign. His working career as a land surveyor covered a 30-year period, which included survey work on Marco Island in Florida. In the late 1990s, he returned to Champaign-Urbana from Florida with a support system for his weakness. About 2007, his son, Mark, had to move Eddie from Rantoul for additional assistance to Bowman Estates in Danville until February 2013, when he was admitted to the VA hospital in Danville.

While living in Champaign during the 1960s, Eddie did attend an early class reunion, but we have not been in touch with him for over 45 years. Classmate Ray Griffet remembers a story about Eddie from the mid 1940s. Ray had a pair of roller skates, but most streets in Champaign were dirt. So, when Ray had a chance to be near the nice wide sidewalk on the UI quad, he would skate over from Mathews Avenue, where his sister worked at Bud's Cafe. On one particular day, he got acquainted with Eddie, who was also skating on the quad. After skating together for a while, Eddie said he could outrun Ray in a foot race. They did race and Ray says he won. However, I wonder what Eddie would say about that.

Attending a burial service in a National Cemetery was a new experience for me. It was a clear, sunny day for the service. The few people in attendance under the tent were protected from the chilling wind by the sides of the tent. After the ending words spoken by the Chaplain, the silence of the cemetery was broken for a moment by the rounds fired in a gun salute, followed by the calming sounds of taps, saying farewell to our classmate, Eddie Castor.

Submitted by Phil Matteson
April 3, 2013


Sad news continues to be our Class News to start 2013.
Julia Clark Job, 77, died Sunday, March 24, 2013 in Knoxville, Iowa. Julia was born July 28, 1935 in Champaign to Robert and Louise Clark. Julia graduated from Champaign High School and attended the University of Colorado, where she was a member of the Pi Beta Phi Sorority. In 1956, she was united in marriage to Ned K. Job. Julia enjoyed walking, flower gardening, golf, playing bridge, being outside with nature, and spending time with her family. She handled designer clothing for many years. Julia was a long-time member of the First Federated Study Club of Knoxville. Julia is survived by a son, Stuart, and a daughter, Susan; brother, Stuart Clark (CHS 1957); a daughter-in-law; seven grandchildren; and many nephews and nieces. She was preceded in death by her husband of 56 years, Ned; her parents; a son, Matthew; and a brother, Robert Clark, Jr. Memorial services will be at 11:00 a.m. Thursday, March 28, at Celebrate Community Church, Knoxville, Iowa. Prior to the memorial, a private family interment will be held in Graceland Cemetery in Knoxville. Memorial contributions may be made to First Federated Study Club Scholarship Fund.
(Source: The News-Gazette, Tuesday, March 26, 2013)

During the early 1950s, Julia lived with her parents at 916 West Clark Street and attended Dr. Howard Grade School. Her father was a wholesale beverage distributor, with offices on North Elm Street in Champaign. In the ninth grade at CJHS, she was in home room 9-5, sang in the girls Glee Club, and participated in Bureau of Decorations and Girl's Sports. (Source: The 1950 Retro) During all three years at CHS, Julia was a member of Wig 'n' Paint, GAA, Cheerleaders, and Maroonafins. In her 1952 Junior year, she also sang in both A Capella Choir and Concert Choir, along with serving on the Junior-Senior Prom Committee. In her 1953 Senior year, she was also on the Maroon staff, sang in A Capella Choir, served on Class Skip Day, and participated in the Stunt Show. Because she was a Varsity Cheerleader, the caption with her senior picture reads...."Come on, you kids, let's really yell."
(Source: The 1953 Maroon, page 23)

Julia attended our class reunions until her health was a factor. Her husband, Ned, was one of our classmate spouses who enjoyed coming to our reunions. In fact, he was getting ideas for his own class reunion while attending our 45th in 1998.

Submitted by Phil Matteson
March 26, 2013


Deak "Sonny" Laverl Matteson, 78, of Sebring, Florida, formerly of Champaign, passed away Sunday, March 17, 2013, at home. He was born March 13, 1935 in Champaign to Thorne Deak and Mary (Rosenberger) Matteson. He graduated from Champaign High School. He was on the wrestling team and came in second in the State tournament in 1953. After graduation he joined the U.S. Army and was in the 82nd Airborne Division. Deak is survived by two sisters, Beverly Grob and Carol Langer; and one brother, John Matteson, all of Urbana; and children, Gail, Deak Jr., Melinda, Sean, Victoria, Travis, Janet, Matthew, Joseph; and long-time friend, Debbie Burnsed. He was preceded in death by his parents. Cremation services were held in Sebring, Florida.
(Source: The News-Gazette, Friday, March 22, 2013)

According to his sister, during his four-year tour of duty in the U.S. Army, Sonny was stationed for a period of time in Okinawa. Sometime after completion of his service duty, he established DLMC, Inc. based in Florida. This construction work required traveling across the country for periods of time. He planned to attend our 50th class reunion in 2003 by sending in his reservation; however, he never showed because of a job completion deadline somewhere at a shopping mall in Texas.

In the early 1950s, Sonny lived with his parents at 109 Wesley Avenue in Savoy. At CJHS, he was in homeroom 9-5. His Activity Club preference in 9th grade was Social Dancing. (Source: CJHS 50-Retro) During his 1951 sophomore year at CHS, he participated in football, wrestling and F.F.A. (Future Farmers of America.) Then, in his 1952 junior year, he continued in F.F.A. and wrestling, becoming a member of "C" Club. In his senior year, he was President of the F.D.A. (Future Distributors of America) and wrestled, earning another year of membership in the "C" Club. Sonny was on a successful 1953 wrestling team that had a 9-5-1 season record. In the Big 12 tourney at Mattoon, where Sonny was defending champion, the team copped first place and Sonny was again an individual champion. In the Sectional at Urbana, the team again won the title with a second place by Sonny. In the State finals, Sonny was one of seven Maroon representatives going to the tourney, where the team placed fourth, helped again by an individual second place from Sonny in his 145 lb. weight class. During the regular season, Sonny wrestled 15 times, ending with a 12 won - 3 lost individual record. (Source: The 1953 Maroon, pages 106, 107, 108 and 109) According to his sister, Sonny was survived by six former wives. This bit of information puts added meaning to the caption associated with his CHS senior picture, which reads..."How could the girls get along without me?"
(Source: The 1953 Maroon, page 32.)

Submitted by Phil Matteson
March 22, 2013


Information has been received from Bob Alsop, Donna Keene Meeks, and former Illinois Power Company (now known as Ameren Illinois) employees, that Carl J. Conley was listed as deceased in the current Ameren magazine (formerly known as Illinois Power Highlights.)

Per telephone conversation with his daughter Joyce, who now resides in Oak Lawn, Carl died August 1, 2012 in Bradenton, Florida. He was born on July 23, 1935 to Edgar and Retta Conley. He married Marilyn VanDeventer (CHS 1955), who preceded him in death on December 21, 2011. After CHS graduation Carl served in the Army, and after his discharge he went to work for Illinois Power Company starting in the Gas Distribution department. He later switched to Line Distribution, being promoted to Superintendant and retiring in the late 1990s. In retirement, Carl moved his family to Bradenton. In recent years, he experienced serious heart problems. Carl is survived by daughter Joyce A. Klepac; son John A. Conley; sisters Eva Burton and Lilly Jones; one granddaughter, and two great-grandchildren.

In the early 1950s, Carl lived with his parents at 309 East Park Street. His father was a foreman at Meadow Gold Ice Cream.
(Source: Champaign and Urbana City Directory 1950)
In ninth grade, Carl was in home room 9-1.
(Source: CJHS 1950 Retro)
At CHS, Carl participated in football and baseball. The caption for his senior picture reads..."He who means no mischief does it all."
(Source: The 1953 Maroon, page 24)

Submitted by Phil Matteson
January 17, 2013


Kenneth Eugene Mullins, 78, of Champaign, passed away on Saturday, January 12, 2013, in Champaign. Ken was born February 28, 1934, and graduated from Champaign High School in 1953. He married Beverly (Phinney) Mullins (CHS 1954) in November 1955. He served in the U.S. Air Force from 1954 to 1958 with duty as Air Policy security at the Pentagon and at Chateauroux Air Base, France. Upon returning to Champaign after service in 1958, Ken stared working at The News-Gazette as a printer, retiring 40 years later in 1998. Ken and his wife started American Markers, a local stamp and engraving company, in 1967. He continued working at their shop on a full time basis until his recent illness. Ken was active in the local AMVETS Post 3, and served as the Illinois AMVETS state commander from 1974 to 1975. He was very involved supporting local veterans' activities. He is survived by his wife, Beverly of Champaign; son Michael of Sewickley, Pennsylvania; and daughter Michelle of Seguin, Texas. He was preceded in death by his parents, Kenneth and Drucilla Mullins, and his brother Robert Mullins.
(Source: The News-Gazette, Tuesday, January 15, 2013)

At the start of his days attending CHS in the early 1950's, Ken lived at 310 West Maple Street. The caption with his senior picture in the yearbook reads..."A good worker in whatever he does."
(Source: The 1953 Maroon, page 33)

Submitted by Phil Matteson
January 15, 2013


Donald R. Hamacher, musician, teacher and co-founder of Dog n Suds, passed away Friday morning in North Myrtle Beach, S.C., January 4, 2013, at 92 years of age. He is survived by his wife of 69 years, Margaret "Maggie" Hunter Hamacher; two daughters, Diane Oberlies, and Jeanine Kuhn-Coker; four granddaughters; and eight great-grandchildren. Don was born in Richmond, Missouri, where his family owned the Hamacher Mill. He had three older sisters who preceded him in death. Don funded his own college education at Missouri University by playing in the Eddie Gibbons dance band. He met Maggie in college, married and started their life together in Robinson. In 1951 they moved to Champaign where Don was a high school music teacher. Always the entrepreneur, Don and another music teacher, Jim Griggs, started a hot dog and root beer drive-in called Dog n Suds in the summer of 1953. In 1975, Don and Maggie moved to North Myrtle Beach, where he continued his love for music and business while obtaining his real estate broker's license. Don was former president, honorary lifetime member and board member of the Long Bay Symphony. He directed the choir at Lakeside Baptist church, started the Grand Strand Singers, was president of the Coastal Concert Association, organized and directed the All City Christmas Cantata, and was grand marshal of the North Myrtle Beach Christmas parade. He was an active member of Ocean Drive Presbyterian Church and sang in the choir. A memorial to celebrate his life will be held Saturday, January 26, at 2:30 p.m. at Ocean Drive Presbyterian Church.
(Source: The News-Gazette, Sunday, January 13, 2013)

In 1951, Mr. Hamacher was added to the CHS staff, filling the position as music instructor and assistant to Director, V.C. Shaul. Mr. Hamacher graduated from Richmond High School in Missouri during 1938. He completed undergraduate studies at Missouri University, graduate work at Indiana University, receiving his master's degree from UCLA. He was music supervisor for seven years at Robinson High School. In 1950, he served as director of the concert choir at MacMurray College in Jacksonville.
(Source: The Champaign Chronicle, Vol. XXVI, No. 1, Friday, September 14, 1951)

During his early years at CHS in 1952, 1953 and 1954, Mr. Hamacher worked with boys and girls vocal groups. He directed A Cappella Choir, Troubadors, Concert Choir, Octet, Madrigals, and Modernaires. He also organized, directed and produced "Musical Moods," a program of three moods....religious, classical, and popular.
(Source: The 1952 Maroon, pages 98 and 99; The 1953 Maroon, page 86)

In 2012, a Memoir by Don Hamacher, as told to Gail Ritrievi, entitled "A Journey through Life with Don Hamacher, Co-founder of Dog n Suds" was published.

Submitted by Phil Matteson
January 13, 2013


CHS 1953 Classmates,
Our mailing last month revealed that we have lost touch with the following :

Ed Castor
Phyllis (Lichtenwalter) Keagel
Carolyn (McCord) Henke
Richard Townsley
Judith (Turner) Kurland
M. Rex Wood

Please respond if you have a current address for any of these classmates.
CHS 1953 Reunion Committee


From our recent mailing announcing our 60th reunion next year, returned sad news has been received from Betty Pettit that her husband, John M. Pettit, died in January 2010. After graduation from CHS in 1953, John graduated from the University of Illinois in 1957. He received his Master's and PhD degrees from Ohio State, where he met his wife Betty. His field of work involved helping students with speech disorders. His employment at the University of Maine was followed by years at Radford University in Radford, Virginia, from which he retired as Professor Emeritus. John is survived by his wife Betty, daughter Anne E. and son John J.

At the start of our junior year at Champaign High School, John transferred from Bloomington High School. He immediately became involved in many of the Music Department activities and the dramatic productions. During his junior year, John participated in Band, A Capella Choir, Troubadours, Boys' Octette, Madrigals, Wig 'n' Paint, Stunt Show, Junior-Senior Prom, and Hi-Y. During his senior year he was active in the same groups, along with Boys' Quartet, Orchestra, Modernaires, Music Contest, Baton Club, Contest Play and Fall Play. The caption with his senior picture in The 1953 Maroon Yearbook reads..."A man that loves and laughs must surely do well."

Submitted by Phil Matteson
December 28, 2012


Betty Lou Baker Shafer of Schertz, Texas passed away on Saturday, May 26, 2012 after a courageous eight-year battle with ovarian cancer. Betty was born November 6, 1935 in Urbana. She was preceded in death by her beloved husband, Jerry Shafer (CHS 1952) and her parents, Lou and Colletta Baker. Betty is survived by five children, five grandchildren, two great-grandchildren, her brother Jim Baker of Schertz, and her sister Mary Margaret Miebach of Philo, Illinois. After 36 years of government service, Betty retired from The Air Force Agency in 2002.
You are invited to sign the electronic guest book at
(Source: The News-Gazette, Wednesday, May 30, 2012)

During the 1950s, Betty Lou lived at 807 West William Street. She helped plan "Class Skip Day" - an event honoring the graduating class on Thursday, May 14, 1953 at Kickapoo Park. At the CHS 1953 Baccalaureate, Sunday, May 24, 1953, Betty Lou, along with eight other senior girls, sang "'Til We Meet Again."
(Source: The Champaign Chronicle, Friday, May 22, 1953)

While attending CHS, Betty Lou participated in Wig 'n' Paint, GAA, Basketball Cheerleader, Office Help, Junior-Senior Prom Committee, Senior Class Skip Day, and Senior Stunt Show. Her senior picture caption says...."Short as any dream."
(Source: 1953 Maroon)

Submitted by Phil Matteson
May 30, 2012


Myrna Primmer and Eugene "Red" Anglin of Mahomet celebrated their 60th Wedding Anniversary at the home of their daughter Peggy Cler in Savoy with close friends and family on April 21. The celebration was also hosted by daughters Karen Pasley and Jennifer Mueller. The couple eloped on April 15, 1952. They have three children, Karen Pasley of Mahomet, Peggy Cler of Savoy, and Jennifer Mueller of Champaign; five grandchildren; and one great grandchild. "Red" (CHS 1951) retired from the University of Illinois Steam Distribution Department in 1993. He worked for the U. of I. for 35 years. Myrna retired as a receptionist at Busey Bank in Champaign in 1999. Prior to working at Busey Bank, Myrna was employed as the office manager for Weberg Furniture in Champaign for 18 years.
(Source: The News-Gazette, Wednesday, April 25, 2012)

Submitted by Phil Matteson
April 26, 2012

A Teacher Remembered

Thomas C. "Tommy" Stewart, 86, of Champaign, passed away Sunday, March 25, 2012. Thomas was born October 9, 1925 to Thomas C. and Elizabeth Crawford Stewart in Gary, Indiana, and married Lulu Belle Nash in June 1950. He is survived by his wife, son Thomas C. (Cynthia D.) Stewart, Jr., daughter Susan Stewart, four grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his parents, four siblings, and a stillborn baby son. Tommy graduated in 1944 from Lew Wallace High School in Gary, where he lettered in football and baseball and spent summers life guarding on Lake Michigan. After graduation he enlisted in the U.S. Navy serving two years, mostly at Pearl Harbor. In 1946 he chose to play football at the University of Illinois, where he played in the 1947 Rose Bowl game. Upon graduating from Illinois in 1951, he took a teaching position at Bement High School and became the head football coach. In 1952, Tommy left Bement to be assistant football coach and PE teacher at Champaign High School. He took over as head football coach in 1953 and retired in 1983 from CHS. The family will hold a private funeral ceremony at Mt. Hope Mausoleum. A public memorial service is planned at Combes Gym in Champaign Central High School from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, March 31. In lieu of other expressions of sympathy, the family asks that donations be made in Tommy's name to the Champaign County Humane Society, or to the Tommy Stewart Memorial Fund at Champaign Urbana Schools Foundation, PO Box 1166, Champaign, IL 61824-1166.
(Source: The News-Gazette, Wednesday, March 28, 2012)

When Hall of Fame football coach Tommy Stewart retired in 1983, he was the winningest active coach in the State of Illinois. He compiled a 31-year football record of 199-74-10 at CHS. His 1981 team won a still-standing school record of ten games. Tommy was a head coach in three, baseball, and swimming. Also, he was an accomplished official in basketball, working the state finals twice.
(Source: The News-Gazette, Monday, March 26, 2012)

Coach Tommy Stewart was truly one of a kind.

Submitted by: Phil Matteson
March 28, 2012


Olevia Anderson Robertson was born on October 11, 1935, in Friars Point, Mississippi to Albert and Rosie Anderson. Within the year the family relocated to Champaign. Olevia was the eldest of 18 children. She was an active member of Mount Olive Baptist Church. After graduation from CHS, she attended the American Baptist College in Nashville, Tennessee. She married James L. Robertson on August 18, 1955, becoming a military wife. During her life she traveled to, or lived in, all 50 states, Guam, Philippines, Bahamas, Mexico, and Canada. She and her husband, upon his retirement from the Air Force, returned to live in Rantoul. Her love of reading included a love of learning. Throughout her life she took several courses at local community colleges, including Parkland College in Champaign. Olevia served as a Girl Scout troop leader for more than ten years. She was employed as a secretary at Mount Hope Baptist Church for 25 years, retiring on October 3, 2004. She was preceded in death by her parents, one sister, and two brothers. She is survived by her husband, four daughters, three grandsons, a great grandson, and 14 brothers and sisters. A Celebration of Life will commence at 11:00 a.m. Thursday, March 1, at Mount Olive Baptist Church, 808 East Bradley Avenue, Champaign.
(Source: The News-Gazette, Tuesday, February 28, 2012)

During the 1950s, Olevia lived with her parents at 313 East Bradley Avenue. Her father was a mechanic doing auto repair work, and her mother was a homemaker.
(Source: Champaign-Urbana City Directory 1950)

During our days in high school, she is remembered as a polite and quiet girl. The caption under her senior picture reads..."Always nice, always kind."
(Source: The 1953 Maroon, page 20)

Submitted by Phil Matteson
February 29, 2012


During the winter of 1946, outdoors on the front yard grounds of Lottie Switzer grade school, a group of young boys were practicing basketball to represent the 6th grade team. There was no need to have tryouts, because only six boys were interested in basketball. The weather was chilly, but the sun was shining...the boys did not complain. The ball was bounced on the cinder-covered ground area and the shots were directed to a hoop (without a net) attached to an old telephone pole...the boys did not complain. The young boys were Joe Bland, Fred Hill, Phil Matteson, Jerry Waugh, Richard Williams and Robert Williams.

In the winter of 1947 during 7th grade, my interest in playing basketball continued at CJHS. At this age, a young boy follows a hero at a higher school level. My local heroes in basketball were the "Whiz Kids" at the University of Illinois. My scrapbook contained their newspaper pictures. For 65 years I have not forgotten my heroes, pausing to reflect as each one passed away beginning in 2000 with Jack Smiley, then Andy Phillip and Ken Menke. Today I attended the visitation, and tomorrow the funeral, for the last "Whiz Kid," Gene Vance, who has been my neighbor for the past 23 years. My basketball heroes have graduated, but they are still playing in my memory lineup.

Submitted by Phil Matteson
February 22, 2012


* Saturday is the date of the annual donkey basketball game in the CJHS gym. The game is sponsored by the CHS Future Farmers of America. Price of admission is 50 cents for high school students, 75 cents for adults, and 25 cents for gradeschoolers. Among CHS boys who signed up are Quinton Bowles and Jack Dixon. Among girls who will play are "Perky" Paris and Virginia Percy.
* CHS's entry to the "Shorthand Penmanship Contest" will be in the form of a team with Mrs. Helen Krumsiek as sponsor. Some team members are Barbara Bailey, Betty Lou Baker, Shirley Hausmann, and Margaret Clabaugh. All entrants will write the same letter in shorthand.
* A New Year's Eve party was held at Tresa Petersen's house. Among those present were Ruth Woodworth, Joyce Denman, Shirley Price, and Carolyn McCord.
* A slumber party was given by "Perky" Paris at her sister's home after New Year's Eve dates. Among those seen there were Lois Smith, Louise Smith, Julia Clark, Jan Royse, Barbara Bailey, Shirley Hausmann, Nancy Shubert, Rita Warmbier, Esther Pittman, and Betty Lou Baker.
* Champaign wrestlers defeated Peoria Manual last Friday, 41-5. This was the Maroon's third victory in five starts. Dick Nesmith and Wendell Hull scored 6-2 wins over their opponents.
* Approximately 100 girls received awards at the GAA tea held December 19. Awards were the "I" - "C" and the numerals. Junior recipients of the "I" award were: Donna Davis, Mary Ellen Heinicke, Gay Parkhill, Tresa Petersen, Betty Stilwell, Ruth Woodworth, and Helen Worsham. Recipients earning the "C" award were: Sarita Alexander, Barbara Bailey, Mary Jane Bruggeman, Ruth Bulkley, Julia Clark, Mary Ellen Cochrane, Tresa Petersen, Carolyn Schloz, Nancy Shubert, Martha Sloan, Lois Smith, Louise Smith, Carol Stahl, Betty Stilwell, Jeanenne Taylor, Ruth Woodworth, Donna Davis, Carolee Kofoid, Sharon Lappin, Jackie Luce, Margaret McHenry, and Gay Parkhill. Juniors awarded their 53's were: Betty Lou Baker, Carolyn Fletcher, Kay Kesler, Doris McCown, Virginia Percy, Shirley Pheris, and Esther Pittman.
(Source: The Champaign Chronicle, Vol. XXVI, No. 14, Friday, January 11, 1952)

Submitted by: Phil Matteson
January 11, 2012


Looking back at 2011:

~~Cheddar's Restaurant, which had been on North Prospect Avenue for 16 years, was torn down in the Spring to make way for a new LongHorn Smokehouse Restaurant, now in operation.
~~A former popular Champaign BBQ spot, Po Boys, moved to Urbana.
~~Carle RX Express, which has been around for 27 years, sold its assets, including its stores, to Walgreen's.
~~The last area Jerry's IGA located in Round Barn Shopping Center closed.
~~City of Champaign has been interviewing candidates for its new police chief, as the current chief will retire early in 2012.
~~The owners of Bunny's have purchased the former Jolly Roger restaurant building in downtown Urbana, along with parking lots and three commercial lots. In all probability, the building will be torn down for some new undetermined development in the future.
~~Meatheads Burgers & Fries recently opened on the former Adair's Dairy Bar site, developed in 1949 on South Neil Street. This site has also been the location for Ponderosa Steakhouse in 1969, and Block Buster in 1984. The Meatheads chain prides itself on fresh Angus beef burgers, hand-dipped shakes (memories of Adair's), and french fries hand-cut from Idaho potatoes. Shake flavors include vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, mocha, Oreo, and coffee, with chocolate sprinkles (the soda jerk at Adair's used to make a special root beer shake).

Looking ahead to 2012:

~~The former Howard Johnson's Motel across from West Side Park in downtown Champaign is slated for a $15 million renovation to become a supportive living facility. The project is currently delayed by difficulties in obtaining financing.
~~Jet's Pizza, a fast-growing chain, plans to open a store on South Neil Street on the former Katsinas Cafe restaurant site. Jet's is probably best known for its deep-dish square pizza, and the Champaign location will be its first in downstate Illinois.
~~The Unit #4 Board of Education selected Judy Wiegand to become the School Superintendent in Champaign effective in 2012. She already has 25 years experience in the Unit #4 school system. During our days at CHS, the Superintendent was Dr. E. H. Mellon.

Submitted by Phil Matteson
January 2, 2012

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