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Two alums finally cross paths-1,200 miles away from ISU

Alumni pose at Florida event

From left, Robin and Steve Kluever and Russ and Dianna Diamond at an Illinois State alumni event in Florida in May.

Russ Diamond ’78 and Steve Kluever ’84 grew up on the same street, in the same small Central Illinois city, went to the same schools, then went to the same University, and even ended up in similar careers.

But it wasn’t until an event last month for Illinois State alumni in Florida—1,200 miles away from their old neighborhood—that the pair actually met. It’s a small world, as they say, but who knew it was this small?

It all happened at the Alumni Association reception May 15 in Tampa, near where Diamond and Kluever live today. Diamond’s wife, Dianna, ran into Kluever and his wife, Robin (Justice) ’84, and found out Kluever was from Pekin too, just like the Diamonds. The two men started working backwards.

Where’d you go to high school? Pekin Community. Where’d you go to junior high? Washington. Where’d you go to grammar school? Sunset Hills. What street did you grow up on? St. Clair Drive.

“That was fun, that was a lot of fun,” Diamond told STATEside. “You gotta be kidding me!”

Both remember playing neighborhood-wide games of “kick the can” as a kid, so they assume they must have come across each other but don’t remember it. Both went on, of course, to Illinois State, although Diamond is older than Kluever by a few years so they didn’t overlap.

Diamond, an accounting major, is now a certified financial planner working on retirement planning and long-term care with clients in Florida, where he moved 16 years ago. Kluever, an economics grad, moved to Florida just last year, but he too works in investment management and retirement planning.

Both travel back to Pekin occasionally, but neither has been to the Illinois State campus in years. New to Florida, the Kluevers signed up for the Alumni Association event to meet people in the Tampa area with common backgrounds and interests—at least someone else with an Illinois State connection.

“I thought it would be a great chance to do that,” Kluever said. “And that’s exactly what happened.”

The two couples plan to meet up for dinner together soon, now that they’ve finally crossed paths.

You can meet up with fellow Redbirds by checking out upcoming alumni events all over the U.S.

Ryan Denham can be reached at