Million-Dollar Estate Gift to Knox College Football Program

$1.6 million bequest from Vern Stisser '62

October 20, 2012

Prairie Fire Football Team

Knox College's Prairie Fire football program is the beneficiary of a $1.6 million dollar boost from the estate of the late Vernon L. E. Stisser, Jr.

Stisser, who died in May, was a 1962 Knox graduate and long-time trustee and donor to the College. Knox College President Teresa Amott made the announcement during Knox's Homecoming Convocation on Saturday, October 20. The gift, which will be endowed, will provide income annually in support of the football program in perpetuity.

Vern StisserIn recognition of Stisser's generosity, the football field at Knosher Bowl will be named Vernon Stisser Field.

"For five decades, including the last 16 years on the Board of Trustees, Vern Stisser was one of the most steadfast supporters of Prairie Fire athletics," Amott said. Stisser helped found the Siwash Athletic Club and served on the Board of Trustees' 2004 Fitness & Athletics Initiatives Task Force, which built the state-of-the-art E. & L. Andrew Fitness Center and renovated Memorial Gymnasium, Turner Track at Trevor Field, the Porter Wrestling Complex, Jorge Prats Soccer Field, and the Knosher Bowl.

Stisser "ranks in the top percentile for loyalty to the college," said retired Knox athletic director Harley Knosher, in a newspaper interview after Stisser died. Knosher came to Knox as an assistant football coach in 1960, and Stisser was on the first team that Knosher coached. In 2008, the football stadium that encompasses Stisser Field was renamed the Knosher Bowl.

A native of Wyoming, Illinois, Stisser earned his bachelor's degree in economics and business administration. After graduating from Knox he worked for Warner Lambert Company and then Ralston Purina, where he was vice president of sales and marketing and executive vice president of international operations. He also served as president and chief executive officer of Griffith Laboratories. Then he went on to work in private equity to finish his career. He was elected as a general trustee of the College in 1996 and named life trustee in 2010.

Vernon Stisser Field