News From Our Classmates

We invite our classmates to share their life experiences on our Class web site.
It might be Anniversaries, Retirement Years, Civic Interests, Past Military or Professional Careers.
Any news of interest and Photos are welcomed.

Email HAROLD for News Input at


As a metallurgist, Jim had the opportunity to be inside the William Penn statue three times, and on the outside twice. This came about when he worked for Franklin Institute Research Laboratories (FIRL). The city fathers were worried the statue may fall down, so they approached FIRL, and Jim fell heir to the project. The only entrance was over the elevator shaft 15’ above the elevator. There were three levels. After crawling through girders, Jim and two expert steeple jacks crawled through a hole to the stump. A poorly made ladder to the third floor led to the top hat and the glass window on the top of the statue. The 1”x4” castings holding the whole statue were examined, which were made up of about 40 separate bronze castings. The original casting was done in 1885, so they were slightly varied. The bronze and wrought iron bolts were poorly cast and severely corroded, requiring a major overhaul. Jim wrote a 50-page report on his findings. About two weeks later, Jim went back to the outside of the statue. Once he went up in the bosun chair (along with the steeple jacks) and the second time he went up in two ladders propped against the statue. Jim’s recommendation was to replace all the bolts.

Shortly thereafter, Jim left FIRL to a new position at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories (who made nuclear bombs in Livermore, CA), and remained in his new position for 35 years, where he dealt with nuclear weapons. Lawrence and Los Alamos Labs are the two labs where nuclear weapons are created. Russia has two, and England, France, China, India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel all have one.

Submitted by Donna (Schum) Matteson
July 10, 2018


Morgan Powell and his wife, Terri, recently made a donation to the Allerton Park and Retreat Center in Monticello as a memorial to their dog, Berkley, who died in a car accident in July 2015. The donation provides for a new amenity in Allerton Park for four-legged visitors to stay hydrated on a day in the Park. New water fountains in Allerton Park now include a dog bowl feature. (The picture above shows them with their new dog, Webster)

Morgan and Terri over the years had made daily trips to Allerton with Berkley. The couple has made other gifts to Allerton, including several benches, a Founding member pledge to the Allerton Park Endowment, and an unrestricted deferred gift.
(Source: Allerton Park and Retreat Center Newsletter, June 22, 2018)

Submitted by Donna (Schum) Matteson
July 2, 2018


This year of the presidential elections, I want to go back in history and tell you about the 1952 presidential election.
Emily Stipes, class of 1954 is a reporter for our school newspaper, The Champaign Chronicle. She wrote the following articles:

CHS Chronicle Reporter Rides on “Ike’s Special”
By Emily Stipes

Late Wednesday Night, October 1—

Hallelulia! Now it’s all up to me! Before I go to bed, I must practice a few strangle holds on my pencil for the Big Day Tomorrow.

“Dwight D. Eisenhower” are magic words nowadays. When I heard that he was going to make a whistle stop speech at Champaign, my reporter nose caught the scent—a great story, How could I miss?

Having called a friend of mine who was a friend who has a friends, I learned that by somehow finagling a press pass from a local paper, I could ride from Champaign to Decatur on the Eisenhower Special. That is, if a high school student could pass for a hardened scribe.
Mr. Robert Sink, managing editor of the Courier, sister paper to the Decatur Herald-Review, procured the secret document for me and it looks as if I am all set. Officials said I must represent “a Decatur newspaper to get on at Champaign.

Little did I now that the fun had just begun! Inquiring into the problem of which car of the train I would board, I discovered from W. P. Weipert, night chief train sender-offer of the Illinois Central, that there were but a measly five press cars, one working press car, one reception car, plus dormitories, “miscellaneous travel cars.” And others, besides the General’s own—a total of 18.
It is the reception car I was advised by E. C. Slingman, chief day sender-offer of the same outfit as above, to invade with my special pass, plus other multiple passes I somehow acquired along the way.

Since the General’s car is to be parked midway on Chester street, we had some figuring to do. —Let’s see, each car is 85 feet long and the reception car is the third car back. That means that approximately 255 feet back should be the car which, if I am lucky enough to bluff the guard, will be my golden chariot for the next hour and a half. It will be 255 feet from the south side of Chester if I get on the south end of the “Calverton,” less if the door is the one open to let on the Decatur and Macon county bigwigs.
Three of us dashed to the IC tracks and the tallest of us walked off the 255 feet Wednesday afternoon. We had some trouble negotiating the bank on the east side of the tracks, after first getting confused over Chester and Chestnut streets, both so close to each other.

The stage was set, the passes are in my pocket, and the questions are in my head. I’m ready to hear the clicking wheels of Ike’s Special bring me music of a super-assignment given to me by my CHRONICLE editor-in-chief, Mary Ellen Cochrun.

CHS Reporter Rides Train, Talks To Mamie, Ike
By Emily Stipes

If people who heard Ike speak Thursday could only have shaken hands with him, they would realize what a deeply sincere and good man he is. His handshake can only be described as warm and strong – but there was far more to him than that.
Although shaking his hand was a wonderful experience and by far my top thrill, there were many other interesting persons on the train besides “Mamie and Ike,” as all of the train staff fondly call the Eisenhowers.

How best can I tell my story? Perhaps just as it happened.
While as I was waiting for the train to come on the IC platform, whom should I spot, also waiting, but Norma Lee Browning of the Chicago Tribune. I noticed that her typewriter was bigger than her suitcase. We chatted for a few moments, and when it was time, boarded the train together. Miss Browning is an experienced reporter who knows all the ins and outs of the journalism business and had a reservation and a ticket to complete the long tour on Ike’s train. The first guard we encountered didn’t want to let her go on. (Miss Browning a seasoned scribe, is having trouble! How will it be for me?)
When the guard finally let her through, I—calmly. To all outward appearances, asked him where the press car was. He took only one look, and in I walked—to the RECEPTION car, the one all the VIP’s were riding on. Thinking I’d have a better chance to see Ike and Mamie there than in the press car, I sat down and awaited my chance.

I saw some of the nationally known reporters sauntering back to their car and decided to follow for a look-see. The working press car was a made – over parlor car. Tables for typewriters had replaced plush easy chairs. But the rug was still there.
The reporters were all in fine spirit and busily typing their stories, hesitating only to drop the ashes off on the beautiful flowered rug. All the women reporters were complaining about how hard it was to keep their hose intact. They were planning to make a quick trip to some drug store in Springfield to replenish their supply.

While I was walking back to the reception car, the women in front of me pulled back curtains of a compartment marked “Men’s Room” and peered in. I gasped and noticed that the name of some prominent political figure was posted by the door. On passing the lady’s rest room, I noticed that it was being occupied by the TV men!

After inquiring around, I found that I wanted to interview Mamie. I must first see Mrs. Ann Wheaton, Mrs. Eisenhower’s press secretary. After I found her and presented my problem, she went right to Mamie and secured an audience for me.
The inside of Ike’s and Mamie’s personal car is paneled in pine. It has a small kitchenette, two sitting spaces and a large sleeping compartment. Mamie was sitting at a table in one of these sitting spaces with Mrs. J. S. Dodd, her mother, and Mary Jane McCaffree, her personal secretary, arranging flowers.
She looked bright and not the least bit worn. She had on a navy blue dress trimmed in white and wore a bracelet made of gold four leaf clovers. With “Ike” on it.
May I make the personal observation that her pictures don’t flatter her in the least? Actually, to me, she is a striking-looking woman as well as one having great charm.
Mrs., Eisenhower is an entertaining conversationalist and gesture with her hands while she talks. It is easy to observe that she loves children and young people. When we stopped in Tolono, she interrupted herself so she could wave to the people.

I didn’t get to ask any questions I’d planned, but in my half-hour interview, I heard Mamie bemoan the fact that she wanted to see her own furniture and live with it for a while. She also claimed that she had made no plans for the White House, but just lived her life day by day.
The General’s wife always seemed to be smiling and somehow the conversation always came back to the young people of today.

I returned to the reception room to interview some of the VIP’s sitting in there. I talked to many of them. All were so cordial and nice. Among them were Mrs. Pat Loomis, official receptionist for the General, Mrs. H. M. Hollingsworth, Chairman of the Republican State Central committee, and Mrs. Alexander, vice chairman of the National Citizens for Ike.

Then as we were nearing Decatur, one of the men on the train told me that, if I wanted to see the General, I should follow some VIP’s who were going back to see him, It wasn’t too hard to slip in among them. The GREAT MOMENT HAD COME!
We walked into Ike’s and Mamie’s car and there in the same little space where I’d interviewed Mamie was the General himself.
He looked a bit worn, but his eyes were shining and full of little darts of light. When he shook my hand he exclaimed how nice it was to see some young people. I asked him if he would possibly answer one question. (You see, he has a kind of an understood agreement with the press not to answer any questions put by just ONE reporter, for he might reveal something big on which the others would be “scooped.”)

But smilingly, he agreed to answer my question. Yes, he thinks that young people of today ARE more interested in politics and world affairs than they were in his day.
Why, when he was a boy in Kansas, the only things he knew much about did not extend past the borders of the state. I’ve always wondered what it was to be a journalist, a reporter traveling in a presidential candidate’s train, or if I would like to be a reporter. I’m more certain now that I would.

After this experience, I find you get opportunities to meet the big people of our times, In this case I mean big, not only in the sense of popularity, nut big also in their hearts. I only wish that I were old enough to vote for Ike!

(Source: The Champaign Chronicle- October 3. 1952- with permission of EMILY (STIPES) WATTS )
Submitted by Harold Keller (Class of 1953) November 1, 2016


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