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Central Campus alumni purchase mementos and share stories

A steady stream of past Walker and Dunn-Barton residents are contributing to the University Housing Services Student Employee Scholarship fund with the purchase of door knobs, mailboxes and room-number plates from the soon-to-be demolished buildings.

Close to 70 people have ordered one or more of the memorabilia. Arles Hendershott Love was the first one to place an order for all three items from Dunn Hall, “a very special place, with each item holding a special meaning.” Meghan Johnson bought the door knobs for her parents, Neil and Robin Johnson, who met in the halls. Chuck Julius, who was one of the first to recommend selling the mementos, purchased his mailbox door from Walker Hall, where he was a student and management assistant. Gail Hilton bought room numbers from Walker Hall for herself and her best friend, Katy Sartore.

Each of them has a story to tell about their time at Central Campus.

Arles Hendershott Love

Hendershott Love lived in 142 Dunn Hall for three years. She said she made friendships that have lasted a lifetime, and she had fun, “a lot of fun, in the all-girls hall, with the first floor being one big family who laughed together, cried together and grew up together.” Hendershott Love said her best memory was when her half of the floor decided their hallway was boring. They asked and received permission to paint a rainbow, with the University supplying the paint, ladders and tarp. “I am not sure if we got more paint on us or the wall, but the rainbow was there years after I graduated,” Hendershott Love said. “I could always count on my ‘Dunn Hall family’ watching me when I anchored the nightly newscast for TV 10 and cheering me on, even though I couldn’t hear them.“ She said the Walker parties were unforgettable as well as the Frisbee games in the mini-quad between Walker and Dunn-Barton. “I feel like with the decommissioning of Dunn Hall, I am losing a very close and dear friend.”

Hendershott Love said the impact Illinois State had on her life “is immeasurable,” and she would have purchased more items if they were available, not only for sentimentality, but also to assist the scholarship fund.

Hendershott Love worked in the television industry until 2004 as a reporter, anchor, producer, news department manager and in other positions at the corporate ownership level, but now works as resource development director at Milestone, Inc., the largest provider of services to the developmentally disabled in northern Illinois. “I was able to make a successful transition to the non-profit world, thanks to the skills I learned and polished while at Illinois State and Dunn Hall.

Neil and Robin Johnson

Robin (Kinsey) Johnson and Neil Johnson ’78 met during their first week as freshmen right outside the rear door of Walker Hall. Robin said she was hoping for an “immediate connection,” but it didn’t happen until “exactly a year later on my birthday when I stopped by 4 North in Walker Hall.” Neil lived in 1 North, and Robin told him it was her birthday. “He gave me a birthday kiss, and the rest is history,” Robin said. “He told me he loved me on the front steps of Dunn-Barton, and he proposed a few months later on a bench in the Quad so all the major stepping stones of our courtship had an Illinois State connection.”

Robin said she cried when she heard Dunn-Barton and Walker halls were going to be torn down. “At first I was surprised that it hit me quite so hard, but then I realized why I was having such a strong reaction—it’s where such an important part of our lives started,” she said. “So many life-changing memories and wonderful friendships were formed in those halls, and it’s like a part of your history is being erased. Without the close proximity of Walker and Dunn-Barton, I likely would not have met my husband, and we wouldn’t have our two amazing daughters.”

The Johnsons stopped to see the halls this summer and said they were grateful to spend a moment there prior to the demolition. Neil works for Panasonic Corporation of North America, and Robin works at North Central College in Naperville. Their daughter Meghan works for the Chicago Bulls, and daughter Emily is a student at North Central College. “Although they did not attend Illinois State, our daughters are quite familiar with our former residence halls and Avanti’s Restaurant as we stopped there to point out our dorms and order gondolas every time we visited their grandparents in southern Illinois,” Robin said. “I think they got tired of hearing our college stories, but never tired of eating a gondola.”

Chuck Julius

Julius ’80 said he has a lot of great memories from his Central Campus days. He lived in Walker Hall for five semesters and was a management assistant for three semesters. “I can honestly say those were the best times of my life,” Julius said. “Because of all my fond memories, it’s hard seeing Walker and Dunn-Barton go. I met a lot of great people from all walks of life that I remain friends with today.” Julius said he enjoyed living on various floors, but special bonds were made on 1 North. “I have organized two reunions of 1 North floor residents, the most recent during the 2006 Homecoming weekend,” he said. “I have an e-mail list of about 40 1 North and ISU alumni, and we communicate on a regular basis.”

Julius said he loved the fact that they had a quad they could call their own—the mini-quad between Walker and Dunn-Barton halls—and that Central Campus was like a campus within a campus. He said the halls weren’t glamorous, but “they were ours, and we were proud to live there. It was truly like being a part of a fraternity or sorority. I felt like I was part of something special then, and feel the same way today.“

Julius and two Walker Hall alumni, Tony Richars ’81 and Dave Dunaway ’80, connected and toured Walker Hall this past spring, taking photos and doing a video documentary as they walked through the building. Julius has his mailbox door sitting at his office in Great Lakes Medical. He owns and operates the distributorship that primarily specializes in ophthalmic surgical devices. His mailbox is “proudly displayed next to my eldest son’s Little League State Championship trophy. Every time I look at it, I’m reminded of my days in Walker Hall.”

Gail Hilton

Hilton ’01 said she received the online Alumni News via e-mail with an article about the sale of the mementos. She purchased her room number and put it on her desk at Blue Outdoor, where she is vice president of Sales, Marketing and Business Development. Hilton said she framed Katy Sartore’s romm number for her birthday. Sartore didn’t understand why Hilton had bought a number and put sparkles on it because the door number had some leftover “decorations,” but Hilton told her to call when she received her present because it required some explanation.

Hilton said Sartore lived next door to her their freshman year. “I don’t quite remember our first meeting, but Katy says she didn’t like me at first because I always walked into her room without knocking. But we soon bonded over my stocked fridge of Pepsi (thanks, Mom). Pepsi always reminded Katy of her grandmother’s house. We graduated seven years ago and continue to be great friends.”

Hilton lives in New York City, and Sartore, a social worker, lives in Chicago. Hilton said they don’t get to see one another as often as they would like, but “when we do get together it’s like we are right back at Fat Jack’s on a Saturday night.” She said they have spent quite a few New Year’s Eves together. “Our friends never know what is in store when the two of us get together,” Hilton said. “We are both talkers and have been accused of being on hold when we are on the phone with each other so I guess that makes us both good listeners, too.”

Hilton and Sartore fondly remember the best part of living at Walker Hall—Chatters Dining Center with their mini pizzas, toasted sandwiches and “of course, pints of Ben & Jerry’s,” which she said caused them to gain the Freshman 15. Hilton remembers fighting with her very slow computer and going to Primetime, 5 p.m. at the Atkin-Colby dining hall where they thought all the “hot” guys were.

Alumni can still reserve a memento by downloading and printing the mementos order form on the mementos Web site.

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