Phil Walpole in front of his 1941 Boeing Stearman
Barbara Walpole was her husband, Phil's, first passenger after he received his private pilot's license, and she's been his co-pilot ever since. The couple grew up in Arlington Heights and graduated from Northern Illinois University – Phil with a bachelor's degree in accounting in 1962 and Barbara with a bachelor's degree in education in 1968.
Now retired, the Walpoles are taking steps to provide for their children and the charities they are passionate about, including NIU. Through gifts from their marital trusts, they are supporting both the College of Visual and Performing Arts and the School of Nursing and Health Studies.
Phil's NIU education was critical to opening the door to becoming an airline pilot. The 74-year-old's love of flying goes back as far as he can remember. "When I was 7, my parents gave me a cardboard cockpit for Christmas," Phil recalls. "I had my first real plane ride when I was about 10." He is thankful for his NIU degree that helped put him in the air for 30 years with American Airlines.
While Phil was earning his wings, Barbara was at home taking care of their three children. Later she returned to school for her bachelor's in education, a master's in nursing, and a doctorate in education. She began her career as an elementary school teacher, but eventually discovered that nursing was her passion. She spent the majority of her career teaching nursing students at several Midwestern universities.
"I liked helping people and I really enjoyed working with the young students," Barbara says. Her rapport with them helped earn her several teaching awards. She recalls working with the nurses in training as they administered their first shots. "I would tell them how scared I was the first time, then I'd remind them how hard they practiced," Barbara says. "I always knew they could do it!"
Together the Walpole's gifts will give "wings" to future generations of both music and nursing students. Phil says, "We love attending the concerts whenever possible, especially the Philharmonic. It makes us happy to know that long after we are gone, NIU students will continue providing these inspiring opportunities for generations to come."
Northern Illinois University has designated the NIU Foundation as the charitable organization to receive and manage all gifts on its behalf.
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