To mark the occasion of the crowning of Eastern Illinois University’s 75th Homecoming queen, royalty from throughout EIU’s history will make their way back to campus.
Eighteen queens, representing Homecomings ranging from 1938 to 2004, are to receive new sashes during their visit, which includes an invitation-only reception and luncheon. Some of those attending also plan to ride on a float in Saturday’s Homecoming parade.
“I think it’s a lovely idea,” said Martha June Hobbs, the 1938 Homecoming queen. “I just think it will be nice to see the campus and hopefully see some old friends.”
Hobbs, originally from Charleston but now living in Decatur, said she used to come back for Homecoming, but “it’s probably been 30 years” since she’s been on campus for the festivities.
During her reign as Homecoming queen, the country was in the midst of the Great Depression.
“Mother made almost all my clothes, including my Homecoming dress,” Hobbs said. “Everybody was in the same boat.”
Hobbs, who remembers attending a speech by First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt in the Old Main auditorium, was able to work her way through school thanks to the National Youth Administration created by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
In her job at the library, Hobbs worked for four years under Mary Josephine Booth, for whom the library is now named. Booth had a reputation for being stern, Hobbs adding, “That wasn’t really true.”
Hobbs completed her “practice teaching” at the high school on campus, graduating in 1940. She went on to teach math for 27 years in Monmouth, Decatur, Macon and Warrensburg-Latham. She was also a co-owner of the Colonial Gift Shop in Decatur for several years.
Other Eastern graduates in Hobbs’ family include her mother, an uncle, a sister, a niece and a nephew. Two other family members attended for a year.
“So we’ve been a family that really enjoys Eastern, and we’re proud to go there,” Hobbs said.
The reunion is being coordinated by EIU Alumni Services.
“It’s a special commemoration, being that this year’s Homecoming queen will be EIU’s 75th,” said Jonathan McKenzie, assistant director of Alumni Services. “Our former Homecoming queens represent the best of EIU’s traditions and history, and we wanted to invite them home to participate in this special occasion.”Other Homecoming queens planning to attend are Margery (Thomas) Heath of Charleston, 1942; Arlene (Swearingen) Muthersbough of Amarillo, Texas, 1947; Ruth (St. John) Thomas of Phoenix, Ariz., 1948; Joyce Elaine (Myers) Transeau of Surprise, Ariz., 1952; Earlene (Petty) Cimo of Lockport, 1954; Sara (Adkins) Kibler of Arcola, 1960; Janice (Kidwell) Figura of Henderson, Nev., 1961; Nancy (Wells) Schaljo of Sullivan, 1965; Elizabeth (Baker) Murray of Charleston, 1969; Sandra (Book) Rhoads of West Frankfort, 1971; Cynthia (Blair) Ward of Phoenix, Ariz., 1972; Susan (Gord) Feary of Indianapolis, Ind., 1976; Patricia Ann (Sheehey) Ferry of Millstadt, 1981; Christine (Pfeifer) Ward of Mattoon, 1984; Jennifer (Engels) Baumgartner of Naperville, 1987; Cynthia (Jacobs) Seyller of Naperville, 1988; and Natalie (Bailey) Taylor of Riverton, 2004.