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Redbird legacy: Family’s Redbird ties extend across 3 generations

Members of the Raycraft family who are Redbirds include Lucas and Barbara, seated. Standing, from left, are Laura, Adam, Jim and Dawn.

Members of the Raycraft family who are Redbirds include Lucas and Barbara, seated. Standing, from left, are Laura, Adam, Jim and Dawn.

Barbara (Dunn) Raycraft finished high school in 1953 and chose teaching over nursing and secretarial work—which were the career options for young women at the time. She was the first to attend college, graduating from what was then Illinois State Normal University in 1957.

She never envisioned she would return six decades later for her grandson’s graduation in the spring of 2017, or that her family’s legacy at the University would extend across three generations.

Barbara married her husband, John, shortly after completing her degree. Her first job as a Bloomington grade school teacher ended in the spring. She was by then far into her first pregnancy, which meant she had to resign. “As soon as you began to show, you had to quit teaching,” recalled Barbara.

The couple had four children, with parenting then her full-time job. She and John later purchased a concrete company in Lincoln, where Barbara was the accountant. She now resides in Sherman and is widowed.

Barbara did not pressure her children to attend Illinois State, yet siblings Margaret and James chose to become Redbirds.

Margaret (Raycraft) Legel ’79 completed a degree in chemistry. She has retired after working nearly four decades at the U.S. Department of Energy Laboratory located at Argonne National Laboratory. Her husband, Michael Legel, is also a Redbird. A 1980 accounting graduate, the two met while students. He is an accounting manager with Stone Peak Ceramics. They reside in Downers Grove.

The ISU connection strengthens through James ’82, who transferred to complete a degree in accounting. He married Laura (Kattelman) Raycraft Kohler ’84, M.S. ’85, who majored in speech and language pathology. His second wife, Dawn (Grace) Raycraft, graduated in 1995 with an elementary education degree. She and Jim reside in Sherman. He works as a technical analyst for Hospital Sisters Health Systems in Springfield.

Two sons of James and Laura extend the Redbird ties further. Adam Raycraft ’11 is a marketing graduate. He is a brand manager at Bai Brands, a beverage company, and lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Lucas completed his mass media degree this spring, and will continue at ISU as a graduate student in sports management.

“I’m really proud of them, as they have all done so well,” said Barbara, who enjoyed being back on campus for commencement. “We all thrived at ISU, and I am happy about that.”

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