Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Whitey . . . Member of Ko-Op’s Incoming Class of ’64

Russ White and Gary Cook first began working at the Ko-Op at the beginning of fall quarter in 1964. I started work there by early November. Other ’64 high school grads, Ken Kirby and Gus Pekara later came on board.

I still remember how surprised I was when Russ left EIU in 1967 to enlist in the Army.

Christmas day 1968 in Vietnam, Hill 53
(Sargeant Russ White on the far left - with half of platoon)
After boot camp training, Russ spent 1968 and began '69 in Vietnam. He was assigned to the 3/82 Artillery, 196th Light Infantry Brigade. In February, He was blown up on a landing zone (LZ) south of Danang. After recovering from wounds, Russ was assigned for eight months to a burial team out of Ft. Lewis (Near Tacoma, WA). Then he returned to Eastern.

I last saw and visited Whitey around 1971 at his then home in Mattoon. Ken Lowry was also there. At EIU, he had changed majors and soon graduated with a teaching degree in Botany and Zoology.

Russ taught science for six years east of Decatur at Atwood-Hammond school district. He also married Cindy, adopted two children, and they had another daughter in 1978 (Daughters Amber and Tamara and son, Cory).

During that time, Russ also completed a Masters degree in educational administration at EIU. In 1980, he then switched jobs to become the principal at Cissna Park.

Russ continued his education at the University of Illinois and completed a Doctoral degree. Beginning in July 1986, he was superintendent for six years at Crescent City. He also taught classes for the Masters program at Governors State University.

End of June 2004, Russ White retired after serving fourteen years as the superintendent of Wilmington School District 209U, located fifty miles southwest of Chicago in the Kankakee River Valley. During his tenure there, Russ served on the Superintendent’s Advisory Board for the ISBE (Illinois State Board of Education) and advocated for changing school funding to be based on State income taxes and reduced property taxes.

After retirement, he worked one more year as a principal at an alternative high school in Cook County.

Russ and Cindy live near Bonfield, Illinois. They share a Facebook account and post family photos (Nine grandchildren) on their pages. It’s a nice connection to their lives and activities. Enjoy seeing some of their travels. Last March, Cindy and Russ went back to Vietnam and visited the LZ where he was wounded.

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