Knox Homecoming 2012: Alumni Memories
October 22, 2012
More than 1,000 Knox College alumni and friends returned to campus for 2012 Homecoming festivities October 19-21. Activities included the Prairie Fire football game, men's and women's soccer matches, the Summer Horizons display of student research and other accomplishments, and Homecoming Convocation.
"Homecomings are the family reunions of small colleges," Knox College President Teresa Amott said as she welcomed alumni at Homecoming Convocation. (Photo at top: Friends gather at the All-Class Reunion Reception in the T. Fleming Fieldhouse on October 19.)
Here's a quick look at some of the Knox alumni who celebrated Homecoming 2012:
Judith Crawford De Leon '67 has returned to the Knox campus for every five-year Reunion, including this one, the 45th.
"It's sort of like going to church. You want to pay your respects to something that had an awfully strong importance in your life, and for sure, Knox did," said De Leon, who is retired and lives in downtown Chicago. (Photo at right: Judith Crawford De Leon '67 and her husband, Jorge Rodriguez.)
"They've both been very important to me in my career," she said. "With economics, I was director of a government agency, in quality assurance and auditing, so my 'econ' certainly helped with that. And the Spanish, through my volunteer work, I've been able to teach GED in Spanish on a volunteer basis in Chicago at the Center Romero."
She was among the Knox students who studied abroad in Spain at the University of Madrid shortly before Knox established its program in Barcelona.
De Leon has fond memories of Knox emeritus faculty member Jorge Prats, professor of modern languages from 1962-2000, coach of the men's and women's varsity soccer programs for more than three decades, and founder of the Knox College study abroad program in Barcelona, Spain.
"Jorge Prats helped us register (at the University of Madrid), and he came over and visited us," she recalled. "Jorge Prats was just a wonderful human being, all the way around. He was so well-rounded."
"I guess that sort of sums it up for Knox: It makes well-rounded individuals."
Thomas Cohrs '71 and his wife, Ann '72, return for Knox's Homecoming nearly every year so they can get together with longtime friends for "a lot of laughs."
Cohrs, who studied economics at Knox, lives in Lemont, Illinois, and recently retired from the scrap metal business.
"It's hard to imagine a part of your life that isn't affected by your experience at college," said Cohrs, who was clad in a gold Knox pullover jersey and a purple Knox cap (photo at left).
"It's kind of the building block for your business and social life going forward. My schooling helped me a great deal, particularly in the analytical part of my business activities as the years went by. The social side made me an adult."
Some of his favorite things to do when visiting Knox include stopping by the Gizmo, running in the Saturday morning 5K, and "just the overall campus experience," he said.
Angela Moton '02 and Roychelle Lindo '03 are part of a group of friends that makes it a tradition to return to campus for Homecoming whenever any of them has a five-year Reunion. This is the 10th-year Reunion for Moton's class.
Moton said she most enjoys "seeing old faces and catching up with people" when she visits Knox. She also was glad she got to spend some time during this year's Homecoming festivities with faculty members Jessie Dixon '89, associate professor of modern languages (Spanish), and Mary Crawford '89, professor of chemistry.
A double-major in Spanish and economics while at Knox, Moton now works in the retail lending department for a bank in Urbana, Illinois. As a Knox student, she studied in Argentina and Spain.
"I really like how Knox encourages you to get off campus," she said. "They want you to get out and see more."
"I just have the fondest memories of Knox," she said. "It was just a special place. I had a really great time here."
She was looking forward to visiting "Pinky" Gibbons in the Gizmo while on campus for Homecoming.
"She's like a mom to so many of us when we're here," Lindo said. "She used to go pick me up from the airport when I flew back and forth from Jamaica. She took care of a lot of people. A lot of people love her." (Photo above right: Roychelle Lindo '03 at left and Angela Moton '02.)
Homecoming 2012 marked the first time that Norma Gutierrez '02 had come back to the Knox campus since she graduated. Gutierrez, who double-majored in education and Spanish, now lives in Chicago, Illinois, and works as a high school math teacher.
"It's pretty nostalgic coming back and seeing my former students here, experiencing what I went through -- but hopefully more prepared than I was when I came to Knox."
Three of her former high school students are now studying at Knox.
"It's amazing to see them here," she said. "I can relate to them on a different level, and I'm just so proud of them for being here because I know what it takes." (Photo at left: Norma Gutierrez '02, at center, with her husband, Jimmy Redondo, and former pupil Samantha Perez, a sophomore at Knox.)
Knox opened doors for her, she said, primarily because she was exposed to different people and different customs.
"Having that experience on such a small campus (and) being able to make close friends with those people, opens my mind and helps me grow and be more open in the world," Gutierrez said. "I think it makes me a better teacher."
Knox "gave me a great education and an unbelievable experience, in terms of the one-on-one attention, the small group setting."
A self-proclaimed Homecoming regular, John Norton '58, was back on campus for the weekend with his wife, Janet Norton, a St. Olaf alumna.
"It's partly about seeing people, but it's really about being back with the choir," Norton said. He said he enjoyed singing "Twist and Shout" with other returning choir members at Homecoming Convocation. (Photo at left: John Norton '58 with his wife, Janet Norton.)
His fondest memory of Knox is the Knox College Choir Tour of 1958.
"We went all over Europe, and ended at the Brussels World's Fair," Norton said. "We went to eight countries in six weeks."
Matt Cochran '02, Rachel Cochran '02 and Courtney Wiles '02 were enjoying catching up after Homecoming Convocation.
"It's like we never left," Rachel said.
"There's some new landscaping," Matt commented.
The Cochrans met during their first year at Knox, and they married the summer after they graduated. Wiles attended their wedding, and she remembers how they met through a suitemate when they lived in Post One.
"We called ourselves 'The Clump,'" Wiles said. "We were in opposite rooms. Matt knew one of our suitemates and just started hanging out with us." (Photo at right: Rachel Cochran '02, at left, with Courtney Wiles '02 and Matt Cochran '02.)
Since graduating, Wiles has been working as an educator in Des Plaines, Illinois. She has taught elementary students, English-as-a-second-language students, and she is now working with special education eighth-graders.
"I made sure to e-mail all of them before I came," Wiles said. "It was so nice to see everyone again."
The Cochrans are currently living in Marion, Iowa. Rachel has a master's degree in Japanese literature, and Matt has a master's degree in theology. He's also published a book.
For his first Homecoming back as an alum, Tim Schmeling '11 (in photo at left) made sure to bring friends, even if it meant picking them up.
"I live in Chicago, but I took a Megabus to Indianapolis and then to Bloomington to meet Knox alum Jack Gallalee and Caitlyn Thompson," Schmeling said.
Gallalee '10, is Schmeling's "big" from Sigma Chi fraternity, and Thompson '10, is engaged to Gallalee. The group also visited Brittany Amendolia '11, who is working on a Ph.D. at Indiana University in Bloomington.
Because he was so involved during his time at Knox with Sigma Chi, the Jazz Ensemble, German Club, and working in the Office of Admission, Schmeling was grateful for a weekend of "being in the moment."
"It will be nice to see my friends, and be able to relax without working events or doing homework."
Bill Durall '72 and John "JD" McMillan '72 both agreed that not too much has changed in the 40 years since they graduated.
"It's a lot of the same in some ways, except our hair is a different color, and our joints are stiffer," Durall joked.
The pair met as first-year students playing basketball at Knox, becoming friends despite being in "rival fraternities."
McMillan, a member of Phi Delta Theta, fondly remembers the "great relationships between students and faculty." He went on to study law and now teaches business law at Western Illinois University, where his wife is a professor of kinesiology.
Durall, a member of Sigma Nu, credits lessons learned during his time at Knox for making his 37 years of active duty in the U.S. Air Force successful.
"I was on the basketball team for four years, and the positive leadership and teamwork skills I learned from Harley Knosher worked to my advantage in the Air Force," Durall said. (Photo at left: Bill Durall '72, at left, and John "JD" McMillan '72.)
Traveling from Oakland County, Michigan, to be at her 40th class reunion, Kathy Bairstow Young '72 (in photo at right) said her experience on campus has been "mostly nostalgic in a good way."
"I have so many wonderful memories," Young said. "My only regret is that I don't remember everyone I think I should."
Those fond memories include late nights studying in the Gizmo.
"At certain times you would run into a lot of people you'd want to see there," she said.
This Homecoming weekend, she was excited to participate in the class picture, and she said she enjoyed the Saturday night dinner.