24, No. 9, Nov. 4, 2004
members recognized for long service and retirement
The 27th annual Service Recognition Banquet Nov. 8 will honor long-service
and retiring support-staff employees from the UI’s Urbana-Champaign
campus. The event begins at 6 p.m. with dinner and the program in Illini
Rooms A, B and C.
The banquet will honor 167 employees who retired between Sept. 1, 2003,
and Aug. 31, 2004. In addition, employees will be honored for service
completed during that time. Those to be honored include 128 employees
who completed 25 years, 25 who completed 30 years, four who completed
35 years, and three who completed 40 years of service with the university.
A Web site for the Staff Service Recognition Program is available through
the Personnel Services Office home page at www.pso.uiuc.edu/service.
Retirees and service honorees are listed alphabetically by name, department
or number of years served.
For more information about this year’s program, call 333-3101.
spending more time with family
Sharita Forrest, Assistant Editor
photo to enlarge
by Kwame Ross
a good book
Retiree Rita Grider reads a book from the Harry Potter
series, a gift from one of her sons, at her Champaign
home. To her right sits Nova, the family’s miniature
schnauzer. Grider, who was an administrative aide
in the College of Law, retired in May after a 30-year
career with the university.
According to retiree
Rita Grider, “Thirty years go by really, really fast.” Grider
began her career with the UI in September 1974 as a clerk/stenographer
III and concluded it in May as an administrative aide in the College
of Law. “When I started at the UI, there were no fax machines,
computers, multi-line phones or even minicassettes. The technology revolution
truly changed how we do our jobs.”
When Grider enrolled as an undergraduate at Eastern Illinois University
in 1970, her aspiration was to become a teacher, just like several of
her family members. However, life intervened, her plans changed, and
Grider left college just a year shy of a bachelor’s degree three
years later and joined the university’s clerical staff.
Grider found the environment at the College of Law stimulating and worked
her way up through the ranks to clerical positions of increasing responsibility
and then to coordinator of special events at the college, but “it
haunted me for nearly 20 years that I hadn’t completed my degree
requirements,” Grider said. “I found some doors of opportunity
closed to me because I didn’t have a college degree. And I knew
at some point I’d be telling my children about the importance
of having an education, and I didn’t want to have a double standard
by not reaching my own educational goals.”
With the encouragement of her husband, Danny, the support of the college
and the assistance of the employee tuition waiver, Grider resumed her
undergraduate studies in 1992 and earned a bachelor of arts degree in
general studies through EIU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
While returning to college at the age of 40 with the added responsibilities
of a full-time job
and three young children “wasn’t the easiest thing I’ve
ever done, it really made a difference
in my life,” Grider said.
So when Grider was promoted to director of personnel, she felt a special
connection with the civil-service staff workers who were struggling
to support families and advance in their careers. One of Grider’s
initial priorities in her new job was to review and reclassify 24 of
the 36 civil-service clerical positions in the college. As a result,
23 of those positions were reclassified and promoted within a two-year
period. Grider also addressed problems with inequities in the administration
of policies and procedures by writing the college’s first policies
and procedures manual. And Grider encouraged other employees to better
themselves by taking advantage of opportunities for further education
“I consider it one of my greatest accomplishments – working
with that group of people to help with their personal and professional
growth,” Grider said. “They will be here long after many
of the faculty members and administrators have come and gone. I will
always look back with a tremendous amount of appreciation for being
given the opportunity to help people reach their dreams and learn how
to balance jobs and home-front issues, to help people see how far they
can grow. Often, these are people who can’t see it for themselves.
People remember that connection, they carry it forward and make that
connection with others.”
While Grider said she looked forward to retiring, one of the biggest
challenges she has faced has been moving forward without seeing the
faculty and staff members who were an integral part of her daily life
for so many years. Grider said that retirement is giving her the opportunity
to spend more time with her children – Jeff, a senior in speech
communication at UI, and Christina and David, a senior and a sophomore
respectively at Centennial High School – and to make “long
overdue” trips to visit relatives in Kansas City, Mo., and Denver.
In addition to home-maintenance tasks such as cleaning and organizing,
Grider said she is “desperately trying to get through the last
Harry Potter book,” part of a set she received as a gift from
Although officially retired, Grider returned to campus Oct. 4 as an
academic hourly employee in the Office of Business and Financial Services,
where she is working on academic professional and civil service positions
and assisting with electronic transmissions of appointments.
However, Grider has not given up on her initial aspiration of teaching
and is considering working as a substitute teacher. “I would like
to get into the classroom somehow,” Grider said.
But Grider, a self-described “Mickey Mouse freak,” has another,
more puckish aspiration: to work at the “happiest place on earth”—Walt
Disney World. “I used to tell people I was going to retire because
I wanted to direct people to Cinderella’s Castle,” Grider
said. “I’d love to work on Main Street USA selling Mickey
miss BSW ‘night life,’ plans travel
Sharita Forrest, Assistant Editor
photo to enlarge
by Kwame Ross
up some fun
Retirement has given John Kammin more time for activities
such as baking Halloween cookies for his four grandchildren
in his home in Ogden. After a 25-year career with
UI, Kammin retired in October 2003 as a building service
worker foreman John Kammin was looking forward to retirement. A year
before his Oct. 1, 2003, retirement date, Kammin bought a camper and
was eager to do some traveling once he left the full-time work force,
perhaps going west to California to see the redwood forests and the
Grand Canyon or east to see Massachusetts and Connecticut.
But Kammin’s travel plans were curtailed this summer after his
wife, Pam, broke her foot and found it difficult to get in and out of
the camper. So most of Kammin’s camping this past year has been
with the Cub Scout troops he leads, and the trips have been closer to
home, destinations such as Camp Robert Drake near Oakwood, Ill., and
Turkey Run State Park in Indiana. Kammin became involved with scouting
several years ago when his grandsons were scouts.
“Now they’re no longer in it, and I can’t find someone
else to take over and I hate to see the program just die,” Kammin
said. “I think it’s a good program; it teaches kids good
values. We have quite a few boys in it from the area. They all have
a good time, but it takes up a lot of my time.”
Kammin served as a program director for one of the scout day camps for
several years. This past year, he took over as round table commissioner,
which involves monthly meetings with all the pack leaders in the local
district, where they share information about running their packs and
activities for their scouts. In addition to being Cubmaster for the
Homer pack, Kammin also leads the Webeloes and the Tiger Cubs.
Along with scout meetings two or three times each week, Kammin has been
busy organizing the packs’ annual popcorn sale. A trailer loaded
with popcorn has taken up residence next to the camper in Kammin’s
driveway on a quiet cul-de-sac in Homer.
In addition to scouting activities, while working the 11 p.m. –
7 a.m. “deep night” shift at UI, Kammin also served as a
bus driver for the Homer Schools for about 10 years and as a volunteer
fireman for several years.
As do many people in middle age, Kammin has become the primary source
of assistance and emotional support for an aging parent. His 88-year-old
mother suffered a stroke in 2003 and now resides in an Urbana nursing
home. Mother and son speak to each other several times a day by phone.
Kammin also redecorated and put a new roof on his house and has been
helping a nephew remodel his home, where they are converting a garage
into a bedroom and utility room.
With all of those responsibilities and a couple of weeks on jury duty
recently, Kammin said the past year has gone by quickly.
“I always kind of hoped that I’d retire early enough that
I’d have some life left after the fact,” Kammin said.
Kammin joined Facilities & Services in 1979 after working for several
years in a managerial position with McDonald’s and as a BSW for
the Homer schools following his graduation from Unity High School, Tolono.
During his UI career, Kammin received the Chancellor’s Distinguished
Staff Award and a departmental Employee of the Month award.
Working at the UI has been a family legacy in the Kammin family: His
mother was a Housing Division staff member for 18 years; an older brother
retired from F&S (previously Operation and Maintenance) about a
decade ago; and a younger brother will be retiring from F&S soon.
A nephew and son-in-law also work at the Urbana campus.
After 25 years on the “deep night” shift, Kammin was looking
forward to retirement.
“I’ve enjoyed it,” Kammin said. “It’s
nice being able to sleep nights, and there’s no pressure to get
up and go anywhere in the morning. I can do it at my own pace. I’d
like to do more camping and stuff, but the only camping I’ve done
this summer is with the Cub Scouts, and instead of taking my nice camper,
I had to sleep in a tent.”
UI colleagues, but ‘busier than ever’ during retirement
Sharita Forrest, Assistant Editor
photo to enlarge
by Kwame Ross
Retiree Jean Poole crochets an afghan in her Champaign
home. “I’m busier now than I was when
I was working,” said Poole, who retired from
her position as an administrative secretary in the
Business Office of the Foreign Language Building on
April 1. In May, Poole fulfilled a lifelong dream
by taking a three-week trip to Europe; she hopes to
visit China during summer 2005.
When Jean Poole
graduated from Eastern Illinois University with a bachelor’s degree
in education in 1971, the job market for teachers had dried up. Several
months later, she accepted what she thought would be a stopgap clerical
job at the UI’s Urbana campus.
“When I started had no idea I would stay forever,” Poole
said. “I remember sitting there on Nov. 1, 1971, thinking I’ll
stay here a couple of years until a teaching job opens up, then I’ll
take my retirement and I’ll have a nest egg to start with.”
Thirty-three years later, Poole retired from the UI.
During her lengthy career at the university, Poole worked in a number
of clerical positions around campus, including the colleges of Business,
Liberal Arts and Sciences, and Veterinary Medicine; the Fire Service
Institute; and the Small Homes Council before landing her final job
as administrative secretary to three department heads: East-Asian Languages
and Cultures, French and German.
And when the possibility of retirement first began looming, Poole was
apprehensive, she said, wondering how she would ever fill the time.
However, after her mother and brother died within four months of one
another in 2001, Poole began viewing retirement in a different light.
“My brother was the age I am now, 56, when he died,” Poole
said. “And I began to think ‘there’s a whole world
out there that I haven’t been a part of.’ I want to be able
to do some of those things, like travel, while I’m still young
enough to enjoy myself.”
For years, Poole had attended the travelogues presented by faculty and
staff members on campus, vicariously fulfilling her wanderlust through
the photographs and stories of others.
In May 2004, after retiring on April 1, Poole fulfilled a lifelong dream
by taking a trip to Europe. After visiting a friend in London for a
week, she joined a tour group that visited Florence, Paris, Rome, Venice
and Switzerland during the next two weeks.
Poole and her friend attended the Royal Windsor Horse Show in Great
Britain, where they saw Queen Elizabeth II, but one of the highlights
for Poole was viewing the Lion of Lucerne, the sculpted lion at Lucerne,
Switzerland, that poignantly commemorates the Swiss guards who died
defending Louis XVI in the attack on the Tuileries in 1792.
“I had wanted to see it ever since I read about it as a kid,”
Poole’s travel itinerary for 2004 includes trips to Toledo and
Seattle to visit friends, and during summer 2005 she hopes to visit
China, having been invited by a faculty member to help him chaperone
a group of students.
“I’ve just been having a real good time since retiring,”
Poole said. “I’m traveling more than I thought I would.
I miss the people, though. I loved working with the students. They keep
you young. It was good to help people, such as helping a student get
registered. I ended up becoming the mom for the whole department. They
came to me with their problems and everything else and I loved it. When
school started this fall, it nearly broke my heart because it’s
the first school year in 33 years that I haven’t been a part of.”
Poole still keeps in touch with some of the students.
In addition to traveling and filling photograph albums with pictures
of the places she has visited, Poole has been busy with home-maintenance
chores, such as painting and redecorating her Champaign home. She also
belongs to an informal gourmet cooking club among women in her neighborhood
who regularly dine together.
“I’m busier now than I was when I was working,” Poole