Good things can come in multiples. Some people say it’s three, but what about 12?
That’s the rough estimate of the number of Cornellians who came from around Harvey, Illinois, in the late 1940s and early ’50s. It seems to have started with John McConnell ’48, according to his brother, Campbell McConnell ’50. John was popular in high school, and after serving in World War II went to Cornell College.
Others came with him or followed soon after. The list includes the McConnells, Joe Haines ’46, Jack Conant ’48, Merle Dickelman ’48, Joe Fox ’49, Howard Ginter ’49, Ed McPherrin ’50, Jim Scott ’50, Richard Small ’50, Bill Purden ’51, and Bob Dickelman ’52.
That’s quite a list, and not just because of its length. Purden was a successful basketball coach for Thornton Township High School in Illinois—that’s where the whole group went to high school—as well as an assistant coach at the University of Wyoming and head coach at Valparaiso University. John McConnell was a coach, professor, and associate dean at California State University-Long Beach. Campbell McConnell taught economics for nearly 30 years at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. And Small ended up becoming the most important philanthropist in Cornell’s history. Some of the group were athletes, like John McConnell, who’s in the Cornell Athletics Hall of Fame as a runner, and many were members of Delta Phi Rho.
After Cornell the group scattered around the country. Some stay in touch and have had regular mini-reunions over the past decades. All of them have two alma maters in common.