Donald C. Mundinger Memorial Service
Illinois College Rammelkamp Chapel | October 17, 2010Remembrance by Donald R. Eldred
Emeritus Dean of Students and Emeritus Professor of English and Speech Communication
We come to you this afternoon wearing our gowns of office; we wear them to honor our leader, our mentor, and our very good friend, Donald C. Mundinger.
There are not enough minutes in our memorial program to do justice to our individual remembrances and to our praises. Any words we might have chosen would all have remained to inadequate to capture our deepest appreciation and respect and personal friendship for our long-time president.
Don Mundinger was our mentor whose life pattern of faith, hope, and honor has been and remains a worthy pattern to hold close to our hearts and minds at whatever state we might be in our ages or in our continued service to students and the College at large.
President Mundinger was a man who held close to him the vision of this college’s illustrious beginnings and its educational mission through the years; a man who willingly shared this vision with colleagues and most certainly with several student generations.
Don Mundinger was always a man of peace who always spoke in peaceful words and tones; he consistently strove to build consensus among faculty, among students, among trustees.
There were a number of times when we could discuss our administrative concerns even as we stood along the sidelines on a Saturday afternoon football game.
Don knew when and how to understand our impatience and when not to; he could easily diffuse a potential blow-up by peaceful, softly-spoken words. I recall only one time in my 20 years that I had marched into his office ready to pounce over a differing opinion; he could sense immediately my unrestrained potential anger. He simply said to me, and he smiled as he said his words: “Don, this perhaps not the day to discuss this matter. Let us speak about it another day.” After I had had time to consider my options, I never re-opened the matter. But we knew what had been on each other’s mind.
There were many, many moments of peace and humor and shared pleasure; he was a man who could easily show his appreciation for small as well as large deeds as he spoke with us and as he addressed student concerns; his appreciative words often made us feel very much valued in our work and as a friend.
Sometimes when there was something to celebrate—perhaps a good homecoming weekend or maybe a quieter weekend with Beecher Hall parties—or perhaps to commiserate over a bad day for him or for this dean he would say, “Don, this looks like a day for lunch at the Club.” And we would do that. He would often say to our server at the Club, “I believe we should have a glass of sherry with our lunch.” Those ‘sherry lunches’ always made our days a bit better and our concerns and issues disappear. Don Mundinger and Don Eldred both enjoyed the amenities of our comfortable lives.
We all had such moments in our lives, and we knew at the time we were witnessing something special. We remembered so many great moments as we savored them and today we often call them up and laugh again.
Thank you, Don, for those twenty years of good, satisfying memories, twenty years of leading this historic college and leading us on our journeys in this place.
Don, you taught us a great deal; we think of you often, and we give thanks to God for your years intermingling with ours: of our shared work and our shared humor we recall over and over.
Allow me to close with just five lines from a poem I wrote last year:
Permit me to take a few steps back
To wave a final good-bye to those joys
Unlikely to come again.
But why or how should I begin to cling
To those joys of bygone days?