Redbird legacy: Siblings started family’s longtime bond with ISU
A photo taken during the Christmas season of 1962 has special meaning to Mary (Asplund) Orton. She is pictured in it at age 9 with her parents, two sisters, and older brother Roy. The female siblings are wearing Illinois State sweatshirts that were gifts from Roy, who at the time was a freshman.
Beyond the nostalgia of a childhood holiday memory, the photo represents the start of a Redbird legacy. Each sibling followed in her brother’s footsteps, graduating in three years or less. The four have a combined career total of 138 years in education. Beyond that impressive legacy, another 10 family members are also Illinois State graduates, bringing the total degrees earned to 19.
Roy ’65, M.S. ’68, was the first to attend. He completed an English degree and a master’s in supervision. He married graduate Carol (Clark) ’66, M.S. ’69, who studied business education. Roy is a retired school superintendent and resides in Woodstock. His daughter, Kathleen (Asplund) Hanke ’90, studied middle level teacher education at ISU and is an innovation specialist in Janesville, Wisconsin.
Roy’s oldest sister, Ione (Asplund) Hesch ’69, majored in business education and is retired from the Rockridge School District. Her husband, Larry ’70, chose the same degree and went on to become an elementary school principal. He too is retired. They reside in Taylor Ridge.
Their children are Wendy (Hesch) Custable ‘98 and Amy (Hesch) Schelker ’98, SSP ’02. Wendy studied industrial technology education and is the director of applied arts at Adlai Stephenson High School, Lincolnshire. Amy majored in psychology and is the principal of the Center for Math and Science in Rock Island.
Roy’s sister Mary ’74, M.S. ’78, completed both degrees in English and taught at Geneseo High School before retiring. Her husband, Jeffery ’76, M.S. ’80, with degrees in social science education and history, also retired from the Geneseo School District. Their daughter, Rachel Orton ’13 who graduated with a degree in social work, is in the health care field in Eagle, Colorado.
The youngest of Roy’s siblings, Joy (Asplund) Dwyer ’76, earned an elementary education degree and taught third grade in Geneseo prior to retirement. She and her husband have two sons who are Redbirds. Ross ’04 and Todd ’09 both graduated with agribusiness degrees. Ross, who farms and owns an excavating company, married Dana (Robinson) ’04. Dana is an elementary education major who now teaches in Moline. Todd works for Deere and Company. Geneseo is home to all of the Dwyers.
“Who could have ever guessed the power of three sweatshirts,” jests Mary. She, Roy, Ione, and Joy remain loyal Redbirds who still proudly wear ISU attire.