When Edward Hayes ’55 graduated as valedictorian, he never expected to find himself back at the school in the principal’s office. But that’s what happened, decades later when he became principal of Bradley Bourbonnais Community High School.

The four-sport athlete came to Illinois State Normal University in 1951 on a basketball scholarship, graduating with a degree in industrial arts education. He was recruited to teach and coach at his old high school and earned master’s degrees in guidance counseling and administration. He became the school’s director of guidance before becoming principal.

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“The reason I was at Illinois State was because the coach recruited me, and I’m so happy he did because I got a good education, met a lot of good people, and it started me off on a good career,” he said.

His list of accomplishments is long, from being named Guidance Counselor of the Year for Illinois to being inducted into the Illinois Basketball Hall of Fame for outstanding achievements in coaching over 25 years.

But he’ll say his greatest reward is his family. He and his wife, Madonna, whom he met in high school, have five children, 11 grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren. His daughter, Marla (Hayes) Burns ’76, graduated from ISU in elementary education.

“I loved the campus,” she said. “It was so very special to go where he went.” She was followed by two of Hayes’ grandsons, Kory Hayes ’16 who studied finance, and nursing graduate Carter Hayes ’19.

Edward is still close with his roommate from 68 years ago, Bob Bryant ’62, M.S. ’65, a retired Bloomington High School principal. He remembers the day they met.

“He was green as grass, he didn’t know what to do or how to go,” Hayes said, laughing. “Fortunately they put him in with me and we’ve been best friends since 1955. We’re a little upset with this pandemic because we can’t get together.”

Hayes visited campus in 2019 with his family, wearing his ISNU letter jacket. “I’m still very loyal to ISU,” he said.