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Redbird legacy: Four children follow couple’s lead

An apartment choice made independently by Bob Mathes and Susan (Hawkins) as they completed undergraduate degrees in agriculture and chemistry respectively resulted in romance and creation of an ISU legacy family.

Susan lived a floor below Bob in units near horse stables on Vernon Avenue when the two met in 1983. Both graduated in 1984, and the two married in October that same year. She homeschooled the couple’s seven children, including two sons adopted from Russia. Four followed their parents’ lead and chose to study at Illinois State.

Debbie (Mathes) Fehr graduated in 2008 with an early childhood education degree, and in 2013 with a master’s degree in reading. She teaches part time and resides with her husband, Jason, in Monroe, Washington. They have four children.

Another daughter, Elizabeth (Mathes) Greenawalt ’13 completed a degree in nutrition. She worked in a dentist’s practice following graduation and now resides with her husband, Matt, in Monroe, Iowa.

The third family Redbird is Hannah ’16. A political science major, she is the assistant director of Heartland Community College’s testing center. She resides in Normal. The most recent graduate is David ’19. He studied business administration and organizational leadership. He resides in Normal and works in claims at State Farm Insurance Company.

Bob is employed at State Farm as well. He is in facilities management and oversees building projects. Susan works part-time at Heartland in the testing center. The couple resides in Danvers, and is pleased to have at least some of the children close to home.

Already a tight-knit family, the Illinois State connection has strengthened the bond. “We all have had good experiences, and liked the school because it does have the small-college feel,” Bob said. They made signs announcing all their graduation years that they carried into the May commencement ceremony—eager and proud to announce their generational campus connection.

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