Accompanied by sons Grant ’01 and Blake ’06, LaVerne (Berry) ’70 and Woody Iles ’71 watched their youngest son Craig ’09 graduate from Illinois State University last December. It was official: the Iles were a family of all Illinois State alumni. Grant realized how special this was during the ceremony when all alumni were asked to stand.
“It really kind of sunk in when our entire row stood up,” Grant said. “It really made me feel proud. You could see on everyone’s face that they were proud to be graduates.”
LaVerne and Woody dated in high school. A year older than Woody, LaVerne stayed with her high school sweetheart while the two attended different schools. The two reunited in 1967 when Woody arrived at the University. They married in 1970 and lived in Cardinal Court. Woody finished his degree while LaVerne taught at Stevenson Elementary in Bloomington.
“Those were four very happy years in my life. If I had to do it all over again, I don’t think there is anything I would change,” Woody said.
After graduation they moved to their hometown Champaign, and later to nearby Mahomet. LaVerne worked at Prairie Elementary School in Urbana, where she taught students with learning disabilities for 33 years. She substitutes in special education settings. Woody taught at Urbana High School before moving into business and promotional advertising.
Grant graduated with a physical education degree. He teaches driver’s education and coaches track at Moline High School. Every year on the way to the state track finals he makes time to show his athletes ISU’s campus.
Blake graduated with a business administration degree. He is a worker’s compensation specialist with Farmers Insurance Group in Aurora. He catches up with his Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity brothers through various golf outings around Illinois.
Craig holds a degree in university studies. Seeing his two brothers attend Illinois State left a lasting impression when Craig chose a school.
“He experienced that, he got a feeling for that, and he decided that’s something he wanted to do,” Woody said.
Woody and LaVerne make regular trips to Normal for a meal or golf with college friends. Woody was a R.A. in Manchester Hall during the 1969-1970 school year. Recently he had a reunion with his residents at Biaggi’s in Normal, where 75 percent of the floor attended.
During their campus visits, the Iles have kept up on the growth and changes at ISU. LaVerne finds the same warm friendly feel every time she comes back to campus, despite a much larger enrollment. The changes leave Woody confident the University’s future is bright.
“I’m not melancholy or sentimental about the past; I’m encouraged for their future. I’d like to see my grandchildren go there,” Woody said.