Connection Runs Deep Between Dively Family and EIU
Some could argue that were it not for Eastern Illinois University, Joe Dively might not, well… be here.
And, of course, the same could be said for his brother, John, and sisters, Laura and Amy.
But as the fates would have it, John Dively Sr., a young U.S. Army veteran from Paris, Ill., enrolled at what was then known as Eastern Illinois State College, met Joyce Reynolds, a young woman from Charleston, fell in love and married. That union produced four children.
As those children approached adulthood, they, too, chose to attend EIU. And like their parents, some met the loves of their lives there.
Between spouses and those two generations alone, the Dively family accounts for 15 degrees -- nine bachelor’s, five master’s and one specialist’s -- awarded by Eastern Illinois University.
“I’m very proud of my family’s long-time association with the university,” said Joe Dively. “There’s a deep connection there.”
John Dively Sr. passed away in December 2011 at the age of 83. Two months prior to the family patriarch’s death, his youngest son, Joe, was named by Gov. Patrick Quinn to Eastern’s Board of Trustees. Joe currently serves as chair of that board -- a one-year appointment effective through April 2014.
“I’m excited about this opportunity. I’m impressed with my colleagues and their commitment to EIU,” he said. “We care about serving the mission of the university.”
A Charleston native, Dively also serves as the president of First Mid-Illinois Bank and Trust, with a business career that includes working as a senior vice president for Consolidated Communications and in sales and management roles with IBM and Caterpillar.
He has served his alma mater as president of the Alumni Association, chair of the Business School Advisory Board, and as a member of both the EIU Foundation Board and the Panther Club. He has also been an active member of the business community, serving as chair of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, president of the Charleston Chamber of Commerce, chair of the Sarah Bush Lincoln Health System, and on the board of the U.S. Telecom Association.
In 2003, Eastern presented him with the Distinguished Alumnus Award. His father, who was himself named a Distinguished Alumnus in 1989, was quite proud of his son’s accomplishments.
“That was a significant moment for both of us,” Joe said.
John Dively Sr. was well-known in the Charleston, Ill., community, having served as principal of what was then-known as Charleston Junior High School. Upon Dively’s death, Dave Fopay of the Journal Gazette/Times-Courier wrote: “John Dively had a gravelly voice that could bring junior high students to a quick halt but was also loved by his students and recognized as a quality school administrator.”
He retired as principal at CJHS, now Charleston Middle School, in 1990. (The school’s gym has since been named for him.)
But John Dively also took time to be involved in his community. Organizations that benefitted from his contributions included the Charleston Area Chamber of Commerce, Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center and the Coles County Fair. He was also an organizer of an effort to clean up the Old City Cemetery in Charleston, where some of the city's founding residents are buried, and later in the effort to restore the Five Mile House south of Charleston.
Joe Dively shares his father’s sense of community. Although, he says, there was a time -- as a recent university graduate -- that he “wanted to see the world.” His began that journey working for Caterpillar at its Peoria headquarters.
“I remember interviewing for the position and feeling intimidated,” Dively said. “There were others -- some coming from Big Ten and Ivy League schools -- vying for the same position. But I discovered that with my education from Eastern, I was well prepared. I was able to hold my own.”
After three years with Caterpillar, Dively took a position with IBM, focusing on sales in the Chicago/Bloomington areas. Five years later, he and his own growing family moved to Boston where he became involved in real estate development.
He was contemplating yet another move when he was offered a position at Consolidated Communications, based in Mattoon. After much consideration, he accepted the offer.
“As a young man, it was almost like I didn’t want to throw in the towel,” Dively said. “I felt like it limited my career aspirations by living in a small town. In actuality, though, the move back home exceeded my expectations.”
Dively says that since his 1991 return to the Charleston/Mattoon area, he has been associated with both Consolidated Communications and First Mid-Illinois Bank and Trust -- “two of the most significant companies in the county.”
“And while professionally, it’s been great, I’m also grateful for the opportunities that those companies have provided to give back to the community,” he added.
"Dick Lumpkin (Consolidated Communications chairman) has done great things for the community, and he’s always encouraged employee community service,” Dively continued. “The same is true at First-Mid.”
During his service on Eastern’s Board of Trustees, Dively will draw from his own experiences as an undergraduate student. Aside from his studies, he needed a part-time job. “I worked at Eisner’s (a now-defunct grocery store in Charleston) for six years,” he said.
He changed his mind about a major mid-stream. “I was a political science major until my first test,” he added, grinning sheepishly.
He was a member of Sigma Pi, a social fraternity, and he admits to attending a party or two.
“I did enjoy a full-college experience,” Dively said.
But, he adds, “There was always a focus on my studies, which was both self-motivated and equally ‘encouraged’ by my parents. And that’s what I want to see in any student who attends or plans to attend Eastern. That’s a critical quality we want to see in our students.
“And it’s our job, as a board, to maintain an institution conducive to attracting and developing quality students, as well as faculty and staff.”