Applebees provide gift for athletics facilities

Andy Applebee ’71 first came to the Hilltop as a prospective student in March of 1967, and it was a weekend he’ll never forget.

Andy & Julie Applebee
Andy and Julie Applebee

It just so happened that the same day he stepped foot onto campus for a visit, Cornell won the Midwest Conference Swimming Championship at home and the league’s wrestling and basketball crowns on the road. 

Andy describes the experience with a smile. 

“It was exciting,” Applebee said. “Students everywhere were cheering and celebrating, there were flags and signs, a pep rally in the Commons, and an overwhelming sense of pride and accomplishment. Cornell was the smallest of ten schools in the conference, but it was a giant killer. For me, as a student-athlete, that weekend visit is why I chose Cornell.”

That experience and many more during his Cornell career with the swim team are why he and his wife, Julie, decided to donate $100,000 toward the construction of the newly renovated and expanded Richard and Norma Small Athletic and Wellness Center (SAW), part of the Athletic and Wellness Facilities project and the Greater > Than Campaign for Cornell College.

“Giving to this project was the right thing for us,” Applebee said.

The Applebees recognize that college recruiting is much more competitive today than in 1967. They believe to attract the best and brightest high school seniors successfully, Cornell must have a quality state-of-the-art athletic facility. Not just for those in varsity and intramural sports, but for anyone interested in health and wellness. 

 President Jonathan Brand is grateful for the support from the Applebees.

“Andy and Julie have supported this project because they know how important it is for Cornell College,” Brand said. “For Andy, participation on a team and intercollegiate competition through swimming were life-changing, and he knows that this facility is critical to ensuring that current and future students have similar experiences.”

Andy swam all four years at Cornell, and in 1969, was a member of the conference championship team. He and Julie continue to be physically active by biking, swimming, and running on a regular basis. 

After graduating from Cornell in 1971 with a major in economics, Andy served three years in the U.S. Marines. He then attended Northwestern University Graduate School of Management in Evanston, Illinois, where he earned a Master of Management and CPA. He worked for Jacksonville Savings Bank for 42 years, rising to president and CEO before retiring as chairman of the board. Julie, who graduated from MacMurray College, retired after teaching special education and kindergarten for 23 years. 

The Applebees live in Naples, Florida, in the winter and in Jacksonville, Illinois, in the summer. The couple has three daughters and five grandchildren.

Now they’re looking forward to coming back to campus for Homecoming on October 21–23 to celebrate Andy’s 50th class reuniona bit late due to COVIDand to celebrate the opening of the SAW, which they hope will someday hold a pool.