A royal return: Proud Redbird couple chosen Homecoming king, queen
Ask 2018 Homecoming alumni king and queen Margaret (Menne) and John Swalec to sum up the University’s impact on their lives, and this is their answer. “The fondest memory we have is going to Illinois State. The friends, the experiences, the education, and our Redbird romance is because of ISU.”
The two met when John ’56, M.S. ’58, Ph.D. ’75, stopped by Gamma Phi Circus practices on his way to McCormick Hall. Margaret ’58 performed as a trick roller-skater. They started dating her junior year as he began graduate school, and married in 1957.
Both were active students. Margaret was a member of the advisory board for her class and the special education club. She worked at Milner Library. John lettered three years in wrestling and one year in track. He served as University High School’s first wrestling coach.
Margaret studied special education, while John majored in physical education. She launched Calumet Park’s first special education program, teaching in several districts before retiring from Libertyville as a supervisor.
John coached wrestling at high schools in northern Illinois and won a national championship at Joliet Junior College in 1964. He held administrative roles at four community colleges and the Illinois Community College Board before taking the presidency at Waubonsee Community College.
John led the college for 20 years up to his retirement. He was appointed to the Department of Registration and Education blue ribbon committee and the Illinois Century Network.
Margaret and John are football fans and members of the President’s Circle. John was inducted into the Athletics Percy Family Hall of Fame in 1983 and the College of Education’s Hall of Fame in 1997. He received the Alumni Association’s Achievement Award in 1987.
Still Illinois residents, they travel, golf, and spend time with children and grandchildren—one of whom is attending ISU. They are pleased their Redbird ties are strengthened through another generation.