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Marilee Rapp has 50-year relationship with Illinois State

Marilee Rapp

Marilee Rapp’s involvement with Illinois State University spans close to 50 years.  She started as a student in 1958 and is currently a member of Senior Professionals, a group of retired professionals who serve as resources for the University, and on the 150th Anniversary Celebration Alumni Committee.

Rapp, like so many other alumni, has great memories of her time at Illinois State.  She had fun at “The Cage,” a student coffeehouse and gathering place, enjoyed Big Four Dances and especially enjoyed “raising the McCormick Gym roof at Redbird basketball games.”  Rapp said they would stomp on the McCormick wooden floors, resulting in an incredible amount of noise to help out the players, including Kenneth “Buzz” Shaw who went on to become president and chancellor at Syracuse University.  Rapp is a season-ticket holder for Redbird Basketball, and her seatmates are Illinois State alumnae, Jane Geraghty Whitman ’64, M.S. ’69 and Pat Florent McCarney ’60.  She says Redbird Arena definitely has more comfortable seats than McCormick Gym had.

A business education graduate, Rapp ’62 took her first position at Lincoln Community High School, where she taught bookkeeping, business letter writing, typing and shorthand.  She said the school had a great mix of fairly young and very mature teachers, who all had mutual respect for each other.  “Experienced teachers served as mentors for beginning teachers, and the environment allowed for creativity in the classroom,” Rapp said. “Several unmarried teachers went to the school events and socialized together.  I made a lot of friends my first year of teaching with whom I still communicate.”

Rapp married another Illinois State alum, the late John Rapp ’65, M.S. ’67.  They had three children, Steve, Susan and Christine, and Rapp currently has three grandchildren and one on the way.  Rapp continued her teaching at Lincoln Junior College and then at Octavia High School before serving as a bookkeeper for family businesses and raising her children.

Rapp started to work at Illinois State in 1986 in the Professional Practice area, where she worked for an Illinois State classmate, Marlyn Lawrentz.  Rapp said helping students find internships and then helping them enter the “world of work” for 13 years was very rewarding.

Rapp retired from Illinois State seven years ago, but never really left the University.  She is an Alumni Association Board of Directors member, working on the Awards Commitee and Homecoming Committees.  Currently, Rapp chairs the 150th Anniversary Celebration Alumni Committee, which is taking the “birthday party” to area nursing homes whose residents have an Illinois State affiliation.  “We are showing part of the Illinois State Historical Video Series and have a special memento to give to the residents—a red leather bookmark with the sesquicentennial logo,” Rapp said, noting that students from the Student Alumni Council will likely join them at the birthday parties. They are also offering the video and bookmarks to the 93 chapters of the Illinois Retired Teachers Association for their meetings during the year.  Rapp says local artist Fred Mills has designed a keepsake ornament to be sold throughout the 150th celebration.

The Senior Professionals group mentors students, conducts mock employment interviews, provides monetary awards and supports activities for other student programs such as volunteers for Passages, the new student orientation program.  Rapp is a member of the University Relations Committee for Senior Professionals and also chairs the nominating committee for the Illinois State University Annuitants Association.

The Alumni Association offers travel opportunities, and Rapp has taken advantage of a trip to Alaska.  She has also visited Ireland and the Dominican Republic and taken Elderhostel trips to Texas, Arizona, Hilton Head and the Georgia barrier islands along with her favorite, Chicago Cubs spring training.  This year Rapp went to the Rose Bowl Parade and is scheduled for New Mexico and an intergenerational elderhostel with her granddaughter in Minnesota.  She enjoys playing golf with friends, including her college roommate, Nancy Meddlemas Koehn ’61, gardening and attending Illinois State football games.

Rapp’s commitment to Illinois State is only rivaled by her lifelong commitment as a Chicago Cubs and Chicago Bears fan, “through thick and thin” as she puts it.

“I enjoy being involved at the University, and it has been fun reconnecting with some former classmates and making new friends,” Rapp said. “We have a university to be very, very proud of, and it gets better each year.”