Margery "Marg" Meenen
Looking out her west window in Elmhurst, Illinois in the spring of 1950, Margery "Marg" Meenen (B.S. '53, Education) says she could almost see the NIU physical plant smokestack in the distance. Teasing, she says that's how she decided to transfer to NIU to pursue her dream of being a teacher. "It made me feel my friends wouldn't be too far away."
Marg remembers her parents traveling from their home in St. Louis, Missouri, to move her from Elmhurst College to a boarding house at the then Northern Illinois State Teachers College where she lived with seven other girls. Sixty years later, the self-professed tomboy is retired and thankful for a rewarding career that has paid great dividends—in relationships and a successful career.
It's not hard to imagine the spirited Marg working with high schoolers to stretch their physical skills. It's that same spirit?to do better?that convinced her to liquidate some stock that no longer paid dividends and establish a charitable gift annuity a few years ago.
As a teenager, Marg embraced sports and became skilled at volleyball, basketball, and tennis. She credits a college physical education teacher for her pursuit of teaching. "I loved her. She was the greatest person in the world and I wanted to be just like her," Marg says. While at Northern, she met another woman who inspired her— Wallace Wesley, a kinesiology professor. "In the summer, she would travel the country working with polio victims. I loved working with her at NIU. She really kept me motivated," Marg adds.
She remembers her anatomy class and claims she still has the 3-by-5 cards containing the names of every muscle and movement in the body. "My parents wanted me to study business administration, but I knew teaching was where I belonged," she says. As soon as she finished her coursework, Marg was offered a job at the Charleston High School in central Illinois for $2,000 a year. "The administration was a bit leery of hiring a brand-new teacher in the second-semester," Marg remembers. After teaching 26 years, Marg retired.
"I never wanted to be a millionaire," she says. "I have been frugal all my life. I drive an older car and I like to pay cash for everything. That works for me." Like many in her generation she is happy to give back and volunteers her time with the Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) and belongs to the Retired Teachers Association. She says she never pictured herself being an NIU donor. She's glad she can give back, however, and is proud to help someone else do just a little bit better.