We Bleed Purple
When asked their favorite thing about McKendree University, students and alumni frequently focus on the feeling of family. At McKendree it is a special sense of community and mutual investment in student success that unifies alumni, students, faculty, and staff in the McKendree “family.” Yet for some students, McKendree is part of their family’s DNA. The following legacy stories represent four McKendree families who truly “bleed purple.”
Rooted in Tradition
by Whitney Fraier
All families have traditions, things that have been passed down from generation to generation. To say the Lowe family is rooted in tradition is an understatement. Four generations of the Lowes have attended McKendree and their commitment to the Methodist faith and our institution is still thriving today.
On Feb. 20, 1828, John Lowe and younger brother George were among the original 105 stockholders who pledged $10 and $20 respectively to incorporate the Lebanon Seminary, which would later become McKendree College. George Lowe was among the signers of the original articles of organization and was elected as one of the original eight trustees. John paid $5 in tuition costs for the first session of Lebanon Seminary, and since then at least 20 of his descendants have continued their support by attending McKendree.
John’s eldest grandson, James Henry Lowe ’1862, was the first family member to graduate from McKendree College and, according to family records, all nine of his brothers and sisters were also enrolled during and after the Civil War. James’ mother, Martha Phillips, was the sister of David Whittenburg Phillips who was president of McKendree from 1879–1883. John’s greatgrandson, the Reverend Cecil “C.C.” Lowe ’40, carried on the family tradition in the 20th century, followed by five of his seven children.
Sadie Delashmit ’14, of Bloomington, Ill., is the latest member of the Lowe family to walk through the front gates of McKendree. When looking at universities in 2010, Sadie never thought she’d end up at her grandfather’s alma mater. But one visit made her reconsider. “I came to campus and fell in love with the school and the community,” Sadie recalls.
Sadie’s love of McKendree was passed down to her from her grandfather, the Reverend Dr. Don Lowe ’48. “I’ve always heard my grandpa talk about his days at McKendree and how important it was to him,” she said. “I am so happy that all of these years he has been ‘preaching’ to me about McKendree, and that I decided to listen. This opportunity has opened many doors for me.”
Preaching comes naturally to Don. He comes from a long family line of Methodist ministers and was a former district superintendent of the Illinois Great Rivers Conference. He also served on the McKendree Board of Trustees for over 30 years and received an honorary doctorate in 1970. While a religion student at McKendree, Don was extremely involved on campus, serving as president of the student body, Student Christian Association, and Philo; editor of the McKendree Review; and a member of the Ex-G.I. Club, Sigma Tau Delta, Student Faculty Council, basketball squad and track team.
Sadie’s grandfather instilled in her the importance of continuing her education and how instrumental McKendree has been in her family history. Sadie’s Methodist heritage and commitment to helping others has led her to major in education. Her goal is to teach in the toughest school districts in the nation. “I want to work at a school with disadvantaged students,” said Sadie. “I am not afraid to be in a struggling school district. I am up for a challenge and excited to one day be able to make a difference in my students’ lives.”
Out of the classroom, Sadie is involved with Students Today, Alumni Tomorrow; the Lyn Huxford Center for Community Service; and the women’s soccer team.
The Lowe family connection to McKendree has played such an important role in the family’s history that in 2005 a special endowed scholarship was established by the family and named in honor of Sadie’s great-grandparents—The Cecil C. and Agnes C. Lowe Scholarship. Cecil and Agnes encouraged their children to pursue their education and were dedicated to their family, the ministry, and their community. The scholarship is given to a student who is pursuing a second career in the ministry, is a member of Kinmundy United Methodist Church, or is a resident of Marion County, Ill.
And so, a new generation of McKendree students continues to benefit from the legacy and journey of one family.
Siblings Make Their 'Marks'
by Theresa Schmidt ’10
Move over, Marx brothers: There are new Marks making history now with siblings Joe Mark, MBA ’12 and Megan Mark ’11, MBA ’13, of Collinsville, Ill., blazing the trail at McKendree University and Nestle Purina.
Megan, a 2011 business marketing graduate, and older brother Joe were both part of McKendree’s MBA program this past year. “My brother and I are about eight years apart, so being at the same school was a new experience for us,” she said. “Having a class together was a little strange at first, but it was great to be able to work on a project together. We often discussed classes and teachers, swapped books, etc.”
In February, Megan joined her brother at Nestle Purina as a order revenue management associate. Joe currently serves as the finance manager for the Customer Development Group.
“Sometimes walking into work is just surreal,” Megan said. I remember my first time visiting Purina when I was in high school and Joe was showing me around. I told him, ‘This is where I want to work when I grow up!’ He simply said, ‘Keep on working hard and you can.’ I’ve always looked up to my brother and I am proud to follow in his footsteps.”
Working at Nestle Purina, Megan and Joe’s footsteps are often accompanied by a set of paw prints. “I love pets,” said Joe. “There’s an emotional side to the pets that you don’t get [with other product lines]. As an employee, you can bring your dog to work. Right outside my office there’s a little dog park that they have on campus. It’s really cool.”
In addition to the opportunity to work alongside her four-legged companion “Finn” (pictured above), Purina offers a respect for lifelong learning that is similar to McKendree’s, Megan explains. “At McKendree, the idea of lifelong learning is instilled in students. I came into the company with an eagerness to learn and a ‘sponge’ mentality of absorbing every bit of information possible. McKendree always taught me that learning didn’t end at graduation and Purina completely embraces the same philosophy.”
The siblings also share a passion for service. Megan was instrumental in the founding of the University’s first national sorority, Sigma Sigma Sigma, and currently volunteers with Young Variety of St. Louis. Joe, a 2011 St. Louis Business Journal 30 Under 30 award recipient, is on the board of Young Variety of St. Louis and is the alumni board president for the Illinois Nu chapter of Sigma Phi Epsilon.
A Family Affair
by Michelle Meehan Schrader
When John Schomaker ’80 was still enrolled in high school, his big sister Barb headed off to college. She didn’t go far, just a 20-minute drive from their New Baden, Ill., home. Most nights, she joined her family around the table for dinner.
“McKendree was a commuter school for all of us back then," explained John, who now serves on the University’s alumni board of directors. “Barb went there. So I went there. I never did consider going anywhere else.”
The family tradition continued. “It worked out so well for Barb (’78) and me that our younger sister, Monica (’84), also attended McKendree,” John said proudly. “And that’s not the half of it. Barb’s husband, Tom Wolfslau, graduated from McKendree in ’76. Both of their kids, Jamie (’06, MAED ‘13) and Justin (’07), wound up going there. And Monica’s husband, Mike Hellmann (’84), and their son, Matthew (’08, MBA ‘13), went there, too.”
A certified public accountant with Rice, Sullivan and Co., Ltd., in Swansea, Ill., John displays his McKendree business administration diploma on the wall behind his desk. The accountant’s son, Christopher Schomaker ’12, graduated with a degree in education from McKendree in December. And his daughter, Sarah Schomaker ’13, currently is working toward a bachelor’s degree in English. Both plan to pursue teaching careers.
“Let’s see, that’s ten family members who went there,” the accountant said, doing the math. “Obviously, we were impressed with the school. When I was a kid, going to McKendree held down some costs. It was more economical living at home.”
But the education he received was invaluable.
“I was the first generation of my family to attend college,” said John. “My parents didn’t go to college so they didn’t have any experience in how to go about selecting colleges. McKendree was known for its teaching program—it still is—and the accounting program was very strong. I know going to school there was the right move for me.”
“When I started at McKendree, it was a small, hometown campus,” he recalled fondly. “The gym was in a Quonset hut.”
Though the campus has grown, it’s commitment to students has not wavered. “They still teach students one-on-one,” said John. I know firsthand from my kid’s experiences, if you have questions, the teachers are available for consultations.”
Keeping It All In The Family
by Michelle Meehan Schrader
For Janet (Klein) Butler ’81 and her husband, Vince ’81, life together wouldn’t be what it is today had it not been for McKendree. Not only did the University shape these alums’ minds, but their hearts as well, and now the Bearcat tradition will live on through their children.
Vince and Janet met on campus. After graduation, they settled into their careers, married, and began their life together in O’Fallon, Ill. Decades later as their eldest daughter Kendall began her search for higher learning, she didn’t look too far to make a solid decision. Her parents’ utmost respect for McKendree and the close distance to her childhood home made it an easy decision because, after all, there’s no place like home.
Kendall, a 2012 graduate of O’Fallon Township High School (OTHS) in O’Fallon, Ill., will move on campus this August and begin her collegiate golf career on a scholarship just as her father did during his days on campus.
Kendall received high ranks in the classroom and on the golf course in high school, earning Honors Society and National Spanish Honors Society recognition, as well as First Team All-Conference, All-Academic Conference, and All-Area golf recognition. She also holds the OTHS record for lowest round of golf.
Golf wasn’t always a priority for Kendall. Despite her father’s love and experience with the game, she didn’t develop an appreciation for the sport until an OTHS coach asked her to give it a shot during her sophomore year.
“I realized I did enjoy it, and I was pretty good at it,” Kendall said, “and things just went from there.” Kendall, who can’t wait to get into the swing of things at McKendree, plans to major in secondary education and minor in Spanish.
“I always had good teachers and many of them impacted my life,” she said. “I want to do the same thing, and McKendree has an excellent education program and connections to local schools, which will help me after I graduate.”
Janet and Vince couldn’t be happier that she is following in their footsteps. “Having her less than ten minutes away on campus is also a bonus,” said Janet, who majored in business administration. “She can come home whenever she wishes to get away, or bring her University friends home for the night. We love knowing we will be close enough to see her matches and watch her continue to grow. We are very fortunate to have such a wonderful University in our own backyard. I secretly wish I were the one going back, especially now with all the new and exciting things happening there. So much has changed at McKendree since Vince and I attended there.”
Vince is proud of his oldest daughter and secretly hopes his youngest daughter Blair, 16, also comes to love the campus as much as the rest of the family does before her high school career comes to a close.
“It would be great to see both of our children walk with their McKendree degrees as Janet and I did,” said Vince, a longtime McKendree volunteer and basketball season ticket holder. “We used to take Kendall in her pumpkin seat to all the home McKendree basketball games, and Blair, too. We all grew up there really, and that is what I call a family tradition.”