Neither Ruth Herold ’59 nor Merle Lemon ’59 realized their decision to attend Illinois State would result in a family legacy across generations.
They met when Ruth served Merle’s table at Cardinal Inn. Their first date was conversation over a Coke. They attended football games, dances and movies. It was at a drive-in theater in the fall of 1958 that they became engaged.
“If we are going to get married, I guess I’d best give you this,” Merle said, handing Ruth an engagement ring. They wed over an October weekend and moved into Cardinal Court. Their used furniture cost $100 and rent was $20 a month.
The two graduated in 1959, Ruth in music and Merle in agriculture. She taught elementary students for 38 years. Merle worked for Farm Bureau, taught junior high science and farmed. They now reside in Jacksonville and are parents to two children. Both are ISU alums who also met their spouses on campus.
John Lemon ’85 married Diane (Dombeck) ’84. They live in Lake Saint Louis, Missouri. Marcia (Lemon) Brandt ’81 married Jamey ’81. They reside in Bradley and are parents of Karen Brandt, a current ISU senior.
Jamey’s mother, Alta (Crowdson) Brandt, is a 1951 graduate who also met her husband, Richard, through ISU. They married in 1952 and raised their family of five on a farm near Manteno. In addition to Jamey, two other children attended ISU: Caroline (Brandt) Davis and Alan.
Karen is consequently a third generation Redbird on both sides of her family. “She owes her very existence to ISU with her parents and all four grandparents meeting there” Ruth said, noting that the campus connection has grown to include cousins and nephews as well.
The University is such a part of their lives that Ruth and Merle chose to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary at a campus Madrigal dinner in 2008. The evening included the jester reading a poem Marcia and John wrote as a tribute to their parents.
The surprise became just one more ISU memory cherished by this Redbird family.