The McKendrean Magazine for McKendree Univeristy - Summer 2023

Where Are They Now?

Have you ever wondered what your favorite retired faculty and staff members are up to these days? Now you can read up on how the people who formed your life at McKendree are doing in our “Where Are They Now?” feature! In this edition, we caught up with Dr. Ron Black, retired professor of English, and Dr. Phil Neale, retired professor of philosophy, to see what they’ve been up to lately!

Dr. Ron BlackDr. Ron Black: Emeritus Professor of English (2004)

Ron has always been an avid reader and he continues to read quite a bit. During his teaching days, he focused more on literature; while he continues enjoying literature, his reading has expanded to include history, political books, and eclectic reading. In fact, he recently finished “Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens.

When he’s not busy reading, Ron enjoys being active and taking in the world around him. He and his wife have traveled throughout the United States, taken many cruises, and enjoyed the beauty of several countries including France, Scandinavia, Ireland, and Russia.

In his retirement, Ron enjoys keeping his intellectual curiosity alive, seeking new and challenging experiences, and also staying physically active. A member of three gyms, he played tennis until the pandemic happened and then began playing pickleball.

“I also do line dancing, and my wife and I do Western partner dancing. It’s not easy!” Ron said.

Ron spends considerable time with his two daughters’ families and is involved in his three grandchildren’s activities quite a bit. He also keeps busy by volunteering for political causes and donating to the cancer fund, among others.

Dr. Phil NealeDr. Phil Neale: Emeritus Professor of Philosophy (2006)

Phil reports that the most important events in his life since retirement were the loss of his wife, Penny, to cancer in 2012, and secondly, a move to Colorado Springs around 2018. Phil’s son, Ben, had set up shop as a clinical psychologist there several years earlier. Phil visited several times a year and slowly realized that Ben and his family were living in a pretty good place. The arrival to two terrific grandchildren and the welcome of Ben’s wife’s extended family did not hurt.

“I live on the fifth floor of a 1960s ‘modern’ building full of many young people, a few old people, and many dogs of which I have one,” Phil said. “The view looks across a green park with jogging and biking trails and a stream with a foot bridge, toward the frequently snow-topped 14er called Pike’s Peak. It’s the most prominent mountain on the front range. Beyond are hundreds of miles of gravel roads lacing through the forests, meadows, and the naked rock of the Rockies. With Forest Service maps and a four-wheel drive vehicle, I’ve ventured to ‘gold camps’ and ghost towns, lakes, and wide vistas seen from various passes.”

Phil adds that even closer to home is downtown Colorado Springs. He can walk to two libraries, the performances of two orchestras, an art museum, and church organ concerts, not to mention a small college. “Just as in Lebanon, I live five blocks from a college with good speakers, recitals, student theater, and lots of shops and restaurants,” Phil said.

Retirement has also provided for foreign travel. Phil’s first visit to Italy, the Balkans, and Greece 50 years ago now allows recognition of how much change has – and hasn’t – occurred since the dissolution of Yugoslavia. He’s also gotten in month-long trips to Egypt, and secondly Israel, the latter during a peaceful period allowing considerable time with Palestinians as well as Israelis, plus the regular sites.

His Egypt trip included the Sinai Peninsula. Phil reports, “I was able to take a nighttime hike to the top of Mt. Sinai, where there were Muslim and Christian groups of teenagers who had been teaching each other songs all night while they awaited the sunrise. Despite the dawn, I didn’t bring back new commandments, although maybe we could use some.”

Egypt in the middle of the Arab Spring was also pretty interesting. “We traveled to the archeological sites but stayed several times in a Cairo hotel two blocks from Tahir Square,” Phil said. “The Egyptians were a hopeful bunch of people whose hopes have gone largely unfulfilled.”

Phil also adds, “I feel very lucky that many of my retirement hopes have been fulfilled. I think of a number of McKendree students and colleagues frequently.”

Pssst – did you know? Ron and Phil used to be next-door neighbors in Carnegie Hall for many years!