Friday, July 11, 2014

Don Gher (1972 - 1973)

I was recently contacted by Don Gher who worked at the Ko-Op and Short Stop in the early Seventies. Like many of us, Don grew up in a rural community and graduated from a small town high school. He has worked and traveled around the world and to say the least, has experienced a very successful career in business and investment finance. Great that Don found and connected to us. He shares some highlights about EIU and his life:
I lived above the Ko-Op during my junior and senior years (1971-73) at EIU and worked for Larry (Mizener) at both the Ko-Op and Short Stop in 1972-73. I stay in touch some of my old "roommates" (we considered all of us living there roomies as we could get into anyone's room by picking the lock with a spoon).

I went to Allendale (IL) High School (a school of 85 students in a town of 500), which has now been consolidated into Mt. Carmel. Dick Shoaff and I went to Wabash Valley College in Mt. Carmel together for a year where his dad, former NBA player Ollie Shoaff, was a coach. I had transferred out of EIU to WVC to try to rehab an arm injury and continue to play baseball before transferring back to EIU. Skip Lee's family had moved from Arcola to California, so he was a weekend visitor several times at my house when we were in school. Tony Shuff was from Bridgeport, and he and I had played basketball against each other growing up.

Photo from Allendale yearbook.
The people I stay in touch with include my roommate, Dick Shoaff, from Mt. Carmel who recently retired from teaching History at Mt. Carmel High and who is now a City Councilman. EIU Student Athletic Trainer and Delta Sigma Phi Charles "Skip" Lee who recently retired from teaching in Sterling, IL and is now Mayor of Sterling. Tony Shuff who is a Pastor in Springfield, IL and Director of the Salvation Army in Springfield.

Don and Mary Jane (Hartke) married
June 22, 1974
My wife, Mary (Hartke) Gher is from the Effingham area. We met at a party just off campus (at a house that was just north by a couple of lots to the now Alumni Association building), and we have been married 40 years as of June 22. We have lived around the world from Springfield to Denver to San Francisco to Tokyo (I set up and managed a Wall Street firm's office there) to NYC and, finally, for the past 25 years in Seattle area.

Photo of Don and another EIU grad, Linda (Cox) Eddington, taken New Year's Eve 1974 in Springfield. Husband Gary was/is a Black Knight of the Embarrass.
I was in the Investment Business until I retired seven years ago. As I wrote in my last economic/investment piece for a wealth management firm I co-founded, I had "worked for my wallet all my life, it was time to work for my soul." Consequently, I serve on several boards across the country, mainly charitable in nature. I have served on various Eastern Illinois University Boards (Business Advisory, Alumni Association, Foundation) since 1996 and was President of the EIU Foundation in 2010-11. I Chaired the EIUF Investment Committee for several years, am still on the Committee and write Investment pieces (I have attached the most recent) for the Foundation.

Note: Above link takes you to page with photo of Joe Davis family (On the right side). Joe worked at the Short Stop and was quarterback of EIU football team. He grew up in Charleston and married Peg Reasor. Don's article begins on preceding page

I also spend time speaking to classes in the Business School when we journey back, most recently speaking to an International Business class and  the Security Analysis class (the Foundation gave the class $100,000 to manage a decade ago, so I speak to the class once or twice a year).

I have so many memories of the Ko-Op. I remember Coach Rex Darling, then the tennis coach, coming into the Ko-Op every morning and spending time chatting with me. At night, Larry (Mizener) hosted the local Republican group, and he knew I had worked with various Republican groups, so he invited me. Along with Max Coffee who was later a State Representative, we had a Masters level student named Jim Edgar in the group. I remember Jim and I spending a night passing out flyers for then Governor Richard Ogilvie at the Mattoon Crossroads Mall. Who would have guessed I was with a future Governor--and the last good Governor the State had, in my humble opinion! Of course I knew Walt Warmoth, and still stay in touch with his son Bill who is the attorney for the EIU Foundation. The first time I was in Walt's was in 1969 with Donnie and David Diver, twin brothers from St. Francisville, our bitterest rival in the Little Ten Conference. We had hated each other in high school and became closest friends at EIU. We were playing the pinball machines when Walt lumbered over and gruffly said, "What's your names?" We told him and he said, "Divers, you're from St. Francisville and Gher, you're from Allendale." We were floored and asked him how he knew, he said, "I read the sports pages." Turned out that Walt was originally from Browns, not far from my hometown and he had played ball against my dad growing up, as had Ike Kennard (owner of Ike's, of course) who was from Keensburg, which  is also now part of Mt. Carmel High.

EIU and the Ko-Op were special places for me, the place where I met my future wife and received a great education that helped shape me as a person. While I have a B.S. in Business with a Marketing concentration, most people think my degree was in Economics or Finance. I am not an Economist, but I have played one on TV as I used to appear on Bloomberg TV, CNBC, Northwest Cable News and was quoted in hundreds of newspapers about markets, stocks and the economy. I was Chief Investment Officer for the firm I co-founded, Coldstream Capital Management in Bellevue, WA, which has about $1.4 million under management for wealthy individuals. I have been a bit astounded as I was named the Lumpkin School of Business Distinguished Alumnus in 2003, the Alumni Association Distinguished Alumnus in 2007 and, in 2013, was conferred an Eastern Illinois University Honorary Doctorate of Public Service. Heady stuff for a little country boy from southern Illinois!

EIU Provost Blair Lord and President Bill Perry hooding "Dr. Don" in May 2013.

The photo below was taken in April 2014. Our daughter, Lindsay (left side of photograph) is standing beside my wife, Mary, and I (in the center). Next to Lindsey are her husband Steve Meyer and their four daughters (I'm holding one and the other three are in front). Daughter Courtney, her husband Michael Haley and their new daughter are on the right side. 

Lindsay and Courtney were both Financial Analysts at Starbucks Corporate HQ. Lindsay worked in the Treasury Department of Starbucks, and Courtney is in the Seattle's Best Coffee unit. Steve works in the family business here in Bellevue, managing properties at the Maui Sunset in Kihei. Michael and Courtney live in Amsterdam where Michael is Starbucks Director of Business Development for Europe, Middle East and Africa.

We were gathered in Effingham for Mary's mom's 90th birthday. Sadly, she was told a week before we arrived in April that she had cancer and although she had great spirits and a sharp mind (playing 10 bingo cards at a time as well as cards a couple of times a week), she passed away the day we were to leave. As I said in my eulogy, it was serendipity that she could have all of her kids and grandkids there to say goodbye.

In our communication exchanges, I shared that my first wife (Pamela) was a niece of then Dean of the School of Business, James Giffin at EIU, and Don shared this story: My senior year, spring 1973, I realize, "Oh! I am almost out of school, so I should probably think about getting a job." One of my summer league baseball coaches was an FBI agent, and I had been his favorite player. He had told me if I ever wanted to work for the FBI, let him know. I decided to apply, so I filled out the 25-page job application. Unbeknownst to me, FBI agents went around my little town of Allendale (population 500) knocking on doors asking about me. Then they interviewed Larry Mizener, because I was working and living at the Ko-Op, as well as Dean Giffin because I was a Marketing Major. One of my friends from Mt. Carmel was on work study in the Dean's office. I rode to Mt. Carmel with her one weekend when she told me that the FBI had visited Dean Giffin asking about me. She said Jim freaked out wondering if I was a subversive who was going to bomb a building, and he was running from office to office asking all my professors about me, before he found out I was applying to work for the FBI.

You can also find and connect to Don on Facebook.

Friday, July 04, 2014

Randy Ingram (July 20, 1947 - July 2, 2014)

Randy Ingram was one of the early Short Stop crew members - - along with several other Charleston 'townies' that included George Way (Deceased), Steve Drake (Charleston home builder / contractor), Gary Moore, and EIU quarterback, Joe Davis. The Mizener children, Debbie, Walt, Betty Lou, and Marty, also worked there along with their mother, Jean.

If you knew Randy, then you knew he was a huge sports fan, and especially baseball. During those days, he was already umpiring games and coaching in Charleston's youth baseball program. Before I graduated, Randy left Charleston to attend an umpiring school. He also served in the Army during the Vietnam War.

In the decades that I lived in Charleston, I often saw Randy and his wife, Sandy and their children, here and there about town. He greeted everyone with a smile. He followed in his father's footsteps in working at the post office and sometimes drove pickup routes around town. When Randy saw me working in the yard as he sped by, he would yell a greeting and occasionally stop for a brief visit. He was the genuine gentleman, a family man, a solid community member, a rock that could be counted on to pitch in and help out wherever needed.

Randy died this week. He had been seriously ill for a few years. His obituary:

CHARLESTON -- The Charleston Community and its Youth Baseball Program not only lost a coach and umpire, but a mentor and friend as Randall Thomas Ingram, age 66 of Charleston, passed away on Wednesday, July 2, 2014 at Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center. Visitation for family and friends will be held Sunday, July 6, 2014 from 4:00 – 7:00 p.m. at Adams Funeral Chapel in Charleston. Funeral Services honoring and celebrating his life will be held at the funeral chapel at 10:00 a.m. on Monday, July 7, 2014 with Mr. Ron Cochran officiating. Burial, with Military Rites conducted by the Charleston VFW Paul McVey Post 1592, will follow at Mound Cemetery in Charleston. Those attending are encouraged to wear casual attire. In lieu of flowers it is requested that thoughtful donations in his honor be made to the Charleston Baseball Association. Gifts may be left on the memorial table at the visitation or service or may be mailed to Adams Funeral Chapel, 2330 Shawnee Dr., Charleston, IL 61920.

Randy was born on July 20, 1947 in Charleston to the late Victor and Norma (Craig) Ingram. He married Sandy Earnest on November 29, 1970 and for the past 43 years they have enjoyed and shared a loving friendship and marriage, both on and off the field. In addition to Sandy, he is survived by their two children; a son, Craig Ingram and his longtime girlfriend Lindy Krugle of Charleston, and a daughter, Carrie Abernathy and husband Marvin of Ashmore; three grandchildren, Taylor Ingram, Marvin Abernathy, III and Zach Abernathy; a great-granddaughter, Aubree Brown; his stepmother, Berniece Ingram of Charleston; and a dear aunt, Rosie Austin of Charleston. In addition to his parents, Randy was preceded in death by his brother, Dan Ingram.

Randy was a 1966 graduate of Charleston High School. Following high school he honorably served his country during the Vietnam War with the United States Army. He was a life member of the Charleston VFW Paul McVey Post 1592, a member of the Charleston Moose Lodge #1388, and was a life member as well as a board member of the Charleston Baseball Association. Randy attended both Central Christian Church in Charleston and the Champaign Church of Christ. He was a 30 plus year employee of the United States Postal Service and following his formal retirement he accepted a part time position with the Save-A-Lot store in Charleston.

Randy loved his family and friends and his love of the game of baseball began at an early age. He played when in high school and coached for several years. He began his umpiring career at age 13 and has been behind the plate for more than 50 years, not only making the calls but offering encouragement, sharing his knowledge, and always exhibiting his qualities of fairness and sportsmanship with the young players. Randy was truly honored when asked to officiate at the Cal-Ripken World Series – it was a highlight of his umpiring career. His commitment extended to other duties such as stocking the concessions before the game and cleaning up after a game – he was the first to arrive and the last to leave. When it was not his night to umpire he could still be found, preparing or maintaining the fields, working the concession stand at Seaton, or doing whatever else needed to be done. He wanted the BEST for boy’s baseball.

Randy’s employment with the post office encouraged his love for stamp collecting and he loved the music of the 60’s – the Beach Boys were one of his favorite bands. Randy dearly loved his family and enjoyed spending time with them. There were many memorable Florida vacations and trips to St. Louis to watch his favorite St. Louis Cardinals play. He loved watching his grandsons play ball and even after his health began to fail he would still watch and quietly call the balls and strikes to himself. Randy’s doctors believed that following his diagnosis in 2012 that he might have only a year to live – what they didn’t realize was that he was in the military and was a postal worker ….two areas of government known to have the longest lines. Way to go, Randy! You will always be remembered for your admirable traits of honesty, fairness, kindness, loyalty, devotion, humility, friendship and love.
Adams Funeral Chapel website. 

For Randy.