50 Influencers: Mary and Bill Roe, the Dynamic Duo

INA, Ill. (Oct. 20, 2017) - The impact a single person can have through their positivity and generosity can be tremendous. Throughout this entire series, individuals have been heighted for selflessly giving of themselves to help the students of Rend Lake College and the district at-large. For this particular entry, double that.

Mary M. Roe and Dr. Charles W. “Bill” Roe are a powerful pair. Both together as a couple and individually, they have helped shape the course of RLC and, by doing so, provided countless opportunities to students.

When Mrs. Roe graduated magna cum laude from SIUC in 1965 with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Mathematics, she was recipient of the Phi Beta Kappa Commencement Prize as the highest ranking senior. She earned her Master’s Degree in Education / Guidance and Counseling a year later, also from SIUC.

Mary retired from Rend Lake College in 2004 after 16 years of service. During her tenure with the college, she was the director of the highly successful Title IV Student Transfer and Retention Support (STARS) project. In 1999, she was named Interim Dean of Student Services, with the “interim” tag falling off a year later.

In that position, she supervised Admissions and Records, Counseling, Financial Aid, STARS, Special Populations, Tutoring, the new “Upward Bound” Grant and student organizations. Additionally, she was responsible for designing and implementing systems for student retention and recruitment activities which emphasized student outreach and student matriculation through academic planning, advising, counseling, orientation and career development.

To say Mary was involved would be an understatement. At one time or another, she has been active with the Rend Lake College Foundation Board, Pinckneyville High School Board of Education, Board of Directors of the Perry County Workshop for the Handicapped, Friends of Morris Library at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, SIU Alumni Association Board of Directors, and the Southern Illinois Workforce Investment Board of Directors Executive Committee.

She was also a member of the Pinckneyville Women’s Club and the American Association of University Women. In 1982, she was a member of the Illinois Study Commission on Public Pension Investment Policies.

Hold on, we aren’t done yet.

Mary also was a Perry County Chair for the Southern Illinois Cleanup Campaign in 2005; Five Star Industries Board member for a decade; Southern Illinois Case Coordinator Services Board member for 10 years; Shagbark Girl Scout Council Board for eight years, a Director on the Pinckneyville Public Library Board, and a member of the RLC Murphy-Wall Campus advisory board.

Her husband, Dr. Roe, also has made a tremendous impact on the college, primarily through the foundation. He’s no slouch with community involvement either.

Born and raised in Pinckneyville, Bill graduated from Pinckneyville Community High School and attended Washington University for three years. He then transferred to Southern Illinois University Carbondale and graduated with a degree in Zoology.

Shortly after he and Mary married in 1966, Bill was drafted in the U.S. Army where he was encouraged to become an officer. Given the survival rate of Second Lieutenants at the time, he tried instead to get a job at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Washington, D.C., and was awarded the position for his two years of service.

Leaving the Army, he returned to education, attending University of Illinois at Chicago for his degree in Dentistry and opened a practice with Dr. H.H. Chapman in Pinckneyville in 1972.

In regards to RLC, Bill has been an active force on the Rend Lake College Foundation Board. In fact, according to a publication at the time, he was “instrumental in acquiring the Rend Lake College Murphy-Wall satellite campus in Pinckneyville.”

For his efforts, he was awarded the 2003 RLCF Presidential Award.

Like his wife, he also is a driving force for good in Southern Illinois.

“I believe you have to have a passion in life, a reason to get up in the morning,” he was once quoted as saying.

Bill played a role in the Optimist Gift Program, a program that gives presents to needy children in the community. Once, a mother presented Roe with a $500 check, thanking him for helping her family when they “had no Christmas.”

He has been an active member of the Chamber of Commerce, Murphy-Wall State Bank Board, Pinckneyville Community Hospital Board, and the advisory board for the RLC Murphy-Wall Campus.

Bill coached baseball and softball for 12 years, served from 1976 to 1989 on the Pinckneyville Grade School Board, from 1988 to 1994 on the Five Star Industries Board of Directors and on the Pinckneyville Cemetery Board since 1998.

So, that’s what they’ve accomplished individually. Together, they are a force to be reckoned with.

“One of the greatest joys of working for the Foundation is the opportunity to work alongside extraordinary people, like Bill and Mary Roe. Because of their incredible generosity, a strong desire to help others, and a passion for education, countless students have had the opportunity to attend Rend Lake College. I am very grateful for their active interest in our students and Dr. Roe’s leadership on the RLC Foundation Board of Directors,” said RLCF CEO Kay Zibby-Damron of the pair.

A donation from the Roes served as the lead gift in establishing a “community endowment” to provide student scholarships for Pinckneyville-area students. Not content to stop there, the Roes are encouraging others to contribute to the cause as well.

Endowed scholarships are perpetual in nature and provide ongoing financial assistance for future students. Only the interest is used annually to cover scholarships awarded.

Dr Bill Mary Roe Scholarship WScholarship recipients Taylor Griffin (Pinckneyville), SECOND FROM LEFT; and Jeremiah Ellison (Tamaroa), THIRD FROM LEFT, are pictured with donors Mary Roe, LEFT; and Dr. Bill Roe, RIGHT, at the 27th Annual Rend Lake College Foundation Scholarship Dinner, held Oct. 20, 2016.

“We have a group of advocates of Rend Lake College here in Pinckneyville, and we have done a couple other activities in the past for the students, but it was apparent to us that Pinckneyville lacked dedicated scholarships for the students at the high school,” said Dr. Roe.

In fact, Mary convinced her father, retired attorney and former State’s Attorney Lloyd Middleton, to make a major gift donation toward the RLC Murphy-Wall Pinckneyville Campus in memory of his wife and her mother, Florence Middleton.

Previously, Bill and Mary Roe were responsible for starting the Jane Waugh Memorial Scholarship and have continued to give to that fund, in recognition of the youngest daughter of longtime Rend Lake College faculty member and coach, Jim Waugh, and his wife, former Developmental Instructor at RLC and Big Muddy River C.C. Lila Waugh. Jane Waugh was killed in an automobile accident in 1995.

Both Roes are listed among Sustaining Charter Members of the Foundation for Pinckneyville, formed in 2008 as a catalyst for implementation of a long-term Vision Statement for the community and surrounding areas of Perry County. According to the Foundation’s Mission: “Our goal is to make Pinckneyville a destination – a community with quality education, state-of-the-art healthcare and economic stability.

For their commitment to their community, the Roes were named Pinckneyville Co-Citizens of the Year in 2005. In the resulting story, The Southern reported, “Chamber officials say the Roes have dedicated their lives to Pinckneyville and the surrounding area and are worthy of the title ‘Persons of the Year’ for many reasons.”

“It’s an honor to be considered and even more to be selected by the chamber for this recognition,” Mary said. “I’ve always thought I’ve gained more from any community involvement than what I was able to contribute.”

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