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How I Got Where I Am


How I Got Where I Am . . .

A couple of months ago, the question "How do you happen to be living where you are?" — or something like that was posed on "What's New?" Responses were fascinating, and this page is devoted to the answers our classmates gave so far. They provide an interesting glimpse into what has gone on in their lives since they graduated from Streator H igh School.It is our hope that other classmates will choose to add their stories so we will have a more complete picture of our graduating class.

To add your story, click on the black tab on the top of this page labeled CONTACT US and send me an email outlining "How I Got Where I am . . .” and I will add your tale to those below.


AZ  Judith Lampson Sexton 

I graduated from SHS and left the next day to live with my mother and step-father in Menlo Park, California. I went to San Jose State for 1 year and hated it. I told my mother I'd ike to take the summer off, but she had other ideas.

I ended up being hired as an information operator for Pacific Bell in Palo Alto, California. I got my drivers license at 20 years of age. I needed a car as my shifts were very varied as an operator. i spent 9 years as an operator and then became a dial clerk in the new Redwood City 4A, a type of switching facility.

I met my husband Clark Sexton in March of 1967. He was studying to get his instructor's rating to teach aviation. He needed someone to ride right seat in an airplane so he could instruct. I became his student. We spent so much time together, we were married in November of 1967. He didn't get his rating, so he worked for General Telephone in San Carlos,California. In 1971 we bought our first home in Fremont, California and lived there for 14 tears. We, then, moved to Tracey, California, as he was now retired, and I was working for AT&T as an assistant engineer.

In 1989 I retired from AT&T with 30 years. We moved to Amity, Oregon on a 5 acre cherry orchard for 5 years Then, we decided to move to Arizona, as my last boss from AT&T lived in Phoenix, and we had all become great friends. He is still my friend. We moved to Surprise, Arizona where we lived in a gated community for 10 years and then moved where I am now in Wickenburg, Arizona.

Clark passed away in October of 2008 after almost 41 years of marriage. I and my dog Lacey live here alone now, but my neighbors are terrific. Lacey will be 8 in April. She is a bull terrier, dalmatian mix. I plan to live in our home here as long as I'm able. I love it here. So, this is where I am.


GA  Jim Alderman 

Left Streator and moved to LaSalle to help my father with his plumbing busines. Was contacted by a head hunter after my father passed away for a position of PM and Est. Accepted the job and moved to Kenosha, Wisconsin. Was there 2 years; contacted by a Head Hunter for a position in Syracuse, New York; accepted the position. It was involved with military housing, motels, and nursing homes.

I was contacted by a Head Hunter and moved back to Racine, Wisconsin area and was involved in coal-fired power houses. Was contacted by former boss to come back to New York and be involved in military housing, nursing homes, and motels. Moved back and was there 2 years; left; moved to Williamsburg, Virgina; and was involved in the construction of 6 prisons - in charge of plumbing, electrical work, Hvac.

Left Virgina for Georgia. Been here 20 years and retired. This is a nice area just outside of Atlanta.


HI  Robert Brewer

After SHS graduation and 2 years in Cleveland, I graduated from what is now Benedictine University in Lisle, IL. I taught in Illinois schools for a few years, including Northlawn. I got a M.A. from Northern Illinois U. in 1969 and immediately went to Naperville to work as a counselor for 5 years. That was the last time I taught in a U.S. classroom, leaving the school district for ServiceMaster Ind. in Downers Grove, where I served as National and International Marketing manager and eventually as Southern Operations manager. It was in this period I was able to meet a few times with Kamel and Bob Baker in NYC. During this time I was married to my former wife, Miriam,who some of you met at a class reunion. We had 3 children, all delightful, and now living in California, Pennsylvania, and Nevada, respectively.

I was recruited to open up American operations for a German company and moved for a year to Hamburg, then in West Germany. When I came back I lived in Richmond, VA, and put 2 sites in operation, Richmond and Charlotte, NC. When the parent company decided to staff the now-operating facilities with Germans, my family and I moved to Huntington Beach, CA, and eventually to Laguna Beach, from which I commuted to Beverly Hills for 10 years.

In 1990, the commuting and long hours became unbearable, and Miriam and I moved to N.E. China, where I taught in the English department of a large Chinese university. In1993 we separated, eventually divorcing. Four years later I met my present wife, Dongping, a fellow faculty member in the University. Those were really great years in China, but eventually we moved on to Great Falls, MT., working and studying at Montana State. By then we were looking for adventure again and moved to Byblos, Lebanon, as college teachers. A great time, but still an unsettled area politically, so after 6 months it was back to the same Chinese university (and for a chance for my wife to see her family again). One year later we came, and stayed in the U.S. until now, although Europe is beckoning.

I taught for 5 years at the University of Connecticut, where my wife also got her Ph.D., moved to Michigan State U. in East Lansing for three years, and now we both work in Honolulu, my wife at the U. of Hawaii and I work in a private business.

It's been quite a trip, sometimes wild, but fun, and it's definitely not over. Since in Hawaii we have been named Oxford Summer Scholars, and enjoyed a very busy and amazing time at Oxford University in England and are doing research for publication in the U.S. I also have been blessed with the opportunity to hone my photographic skills in many countries.



IL  Irene Koprokowski Grube

The Monday after graduation I started working at Knoedler Mfg. and worked until Nov 30'1959.

I started at SHS on Dec. 2, 1959 as secretary to the Guidance director Gwen Harris with Counselors Jeanne Soderstrom and Ben Westlake. I worked part-time for a few years and retired June 30, 1996 taking the offer of an early out.

You might say I never left SHS as I spent 37 years there retiring as administrative secretary under 8 superintendents!



IL  Judy Kooi Clark

I was born and raised in Streator, Illinois going to Grant school for a while and, after moving out to the east of town, I went to a country school for about a year. Then they closed that school and I went to Sherman School where I graduated from 8th grade in 1954. I worked at Hill Brothers all 4 of my high school years.

After getting married, my husband and I and 2 children transferred to New York with Owens Glass Company. That was in 1961. We then transferred to Beach Park, Illinois in 1969 with a different glass company and had 2 more children. I worked in a medical clinic for a few years, had a late-in-life daughter, and then worked for a few more years as a teaching assistant with Chapter One children. Beach Park, Illinois is where we are still at so you can see we have not traveled too much.
IL Carolyn Erler

I was born and raised in Streator and after graduation, I started working at the Northern Illinois Water Company and was there until 1989. I then started to work at Contel Cellular in 1992 and later Illinois Valley Cellular until 2008. I am presently working as a lunch server at Kimes Grade School.

I have been very happy that I stayed in Streator and was able to care for my parents. I helped my parents in our own bakery Erler's Bake Shop at 721 E. Main Street.

I am active in several organizations, my church and of course, I do my best in keeping track of all of my wonderful 1958 SHS classmates.


IL  Marsha Turner Hill

After graduation from ISU, I accepted a job teaching creative dramatics at the Metcalf Lab School in Normal for a professor who was leaving on a six month sabbatical. I lived in the Bloomington-Normal area, planned my wedding for that August on my break, and commuted between Streator and Normal for the first 6 months of our marriage. When I returned, we moved from a small apartment on Wilson Street to Boys Street, where we lived from 1963-1966.

My husband became the Chevrolet dealer in Kankakee, and we moved to Wilson Avenue there, and raised our family of two boys and a girl there. I became very active in the theatre groups in the surrounding area, and also taught classes in various schools, and the university there. We lived in the same home from 1966 until 2005, when we purchased a home in Bourbonnais, IL. Our children were married and living in Seattle, WA, Frankfort, IL, and Manteno. This move put us only 15-30 minutes away from two of them, which made family commuting much more convenient.

I still help out with a ten-year old granddaughter and seven-year old grandson in Manteno. All of my other grandsons are in college and high school now. I enjoy our new home and area very much in retirement. It's a quiet neighborhood, with friendly neighbors. Life is good.


 IN Bruce Mackey

I suspect that, like most of our classmates, our current location is hardly a straight line progression from where we started. Our first home was an apartment above a pool hall in West Frankfort, Illinois. We got married after my first year in grad school and chose West Frankfort because Carole got a job teaching in the local high school and because it was an easy commute to SIU. Carole got an introduction to small towns very quickly. With no air conditioning, we had to keep our windows open and listen to the songs from the local teen town. To this day, we cannot tolerate Bobby Vinton’s rendering of the song “Blue Velvet.” Our open windows also provided a cacophony of street sounds. Carole could not understand why there was so much beeping of car horns, and I had to explain that people in small towns beeped their horns when they saw someone they knew.

After I finished my masters, I got a job teaching at Evergreen Park High School, and we moved to Alsip, Illinois. Our daughters came along during the three years we lived there. Evergreen Park and the contiguous suburb of Oak Lawn had a large number of “white flight” residents and the hatred of Blacks was intense in both towns. When Martin Luther King came to the south suburbs and led a march in Marquette Park, the cover of Life magazine showed a group of kids protesting and screaming at the photographer. The kid in the middle of that photo, with his middle finger pointed upwards, was one of my students.

Deciding that the area was not a great place to raise kids, we moved a number of miles south to Park Forest, Illinois. It was a good move. Park Forest, in those days, was still the community profiled in the classic sociological study The Organization Man. The schools, athletic teams, park district and library were superb. At the time, the town had the highest educational level of any town in Illinois. Nobody was rich, however. Other than a sprinkling of professors from IIT and the University of Chicago, most of the adults were only a few years out of college. It was extremely ethnically diverse with residents from all over the world. On our short block, there were two families from India and one from Mexico. The guy from Mexico not only spoke English, he was a doctor.

When I finished law school, we moved a few miles north to Flossmoor, an uptight, affluent community with little diversity. Ever conscious of its image, the town prohibited pickup trucks from being parked in town overnight. Unlike Park Forest where we knew all of our neighbors, we knew very few of our neighbors. On one occasion, while standing in a group waiting for the commuter train to stop, a woman asked me if I would like a ride home. I replied that I would like a ride, but for all she knew, I might live twenty miles away. She replied: “You have lived directly across the street from me for the last ten years.” Because the schools were very good and because Carole’s parents lived nearby, we lived there for 28 years.

During the years we were living in Flossmoor, we bought a second home in the Indiana Dunes. We loved the area. Carole would drive out on Fridays, and I would take the South Shore railroad from the Loop to Michigan City after work. As I approached retirement, we decided to sell the two houses and buy a retirement home in Long Beach, Indiana. Most of the full-time and part-time residents have Chicago area roots. Like Flossmoor, it is full of rich people, but it is not as snobbish. We have lived there for nearly sixteen years, but plan to move back to Illinois when we sell our house. Our daughters have demanded that, because we are nearing our dotage, we have to move by one of them.


KS  Norma Harcharik Hoban 

After I graduated from SHS in 1958, I worked at Owen-Illinois Glass Company until February of 1959. A sales ad in the Times-Press lured me into an interest in the airline business. In 1959, I left Streator to attend a school in Kansas City, Missouri where I remained.

In 1964, I married a man in Kansas City and moved to Independence, Missouri just a short drive from Kansas City. We had four sons in eleven years. My husband died in a car accident in 1975. I went to work at the Army Ammunition Plant as a civil servant in 1977 in Independence. I applied for a transfer to the Federal Aviation Administration in Kansas City in 1978.

My career changed many times with the FAA as promotions became available. I started as a file clerk. Then I worked as a payroll technician where I worked up to being a Payroll Manager. In 1983, I moved to Springfield, Missouri to attend an upward mobility program with the FAA to be an electronics technician. After graduation from the electronics school in 1985, I became a radar technician at a long range radar unit in Kansas. Therefore, I had to move and selected Olathe, Kansas which was 13 miles from the radar unit. In 1989, after the FAA moved the radar unit to a little town about 30 miles away, I transferred to the Air Traffic Control Center in Olathe as an electronics technician.

I attended many schools through the FAA. In 1991, I became an Employment Involvement Coordinator traveling to Iowa, Nebraska, Missouri and Kansas airports and offices assisting and facilitating meetings between union and management personnel. I returned to the Regional Office in Kansas City, Missouri in 1995. It was a 22 mile, each way, commute for me each day from Olathe, Kansas. My final job as the Contract Administrator for the FAA covered the federal contract with the Lockheed Martin Company. I retired from that job and the FAA in 2007. In all, I had worked 30 years for the federal government.

After retiring from government work, I drove vans from the Kansas area all over the United States for five years driving over 75,000 miles. It was a nice retirement job. The type job that if I didnt want the assignment, I could turn it down. I drove from coast to coast to places I had before never seen. I, also, assisted five different elderly ladies, ages 89 to 96 from 2009 to 2013 in their daily living chores. Due to a knee and hip replacement of my own, I was not able to do that anymore.

I remained in Olathe, Kansas from 1985 to 2015. In 2015, I downsized from my home which was too large and had too many steps for me. Now it has been nearly a year since I moved from Olathe to Overland Park, Kansas which is only five miles from my Olathe home. Three of my sons live in Kansas within 15 miles of me. One son and his wife worked for the FAA as Air Traffic Controllers for 25 years and worked and retired in Florida. So, in summary, I have lived away from Streator since 1959 and lived in the Kansas City area for all those years.


VA  Lester Davis

While in the FBI I was transferred from Pittsburgh to Quantico, Virginia, our training academy. After final retirement Arleen and I moved to Culpeper County to be closer to our daughters. Beautiful place to live, right near the Blue Ridge mountains.


WI  Terrence Maskel

Upon graduation from SHS, I was very much in a hurry to find a job because I did not have the funds to go on to college, and a that time, my family was not able to provide any financial support to do so. Thankfully, both Owens Glass and Anthony's provided job opportunities for me... Yup, two jobs at the same time. I will be ever grateful to both companies.

In 1959, I started my college years at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin... Graduating in 1963. I will never forget how anxious I was to start school, and what an immediate shock it was to be competing against so many smart people!! It was such a rude awakening, I became a permanent fixture in the library!!

My next rude awakening was my draft notice from the US Army that advised my draft lottery number would result in my being called into the Army... And in Sept, 1964, I was drafted... Ultimately being trained as a medic at Ft Sam Houston, in Texas. This was a period during the Viet Nam war which was sending most draftees into that conflict.. For some reason my orders sent me to Europe for 18 months where I was assigned to a clinic with an infantry division, and later to a hospital emergency room. When I was first drafted, I was very unhappy due to "other plans" I had at that time, but as I look back at the experiance, I am proud to have served with so many great people.

Upon my discharge, I returned to Streator to spend some time wth my parents, but a short time later, returned to Milwaukee to review school options.. And to find a job to earn some money... And importantly, to renew relationships. I cannot adequately express my gratitude for their friendship and thoughtfulness, to Ted and Alice Vourz who were living in Milwaukee at that time. Ted helped my to get my first job upon returning from the service; and Alice was instrumental in establishing my relationship with a certain nurse who ultimately became my wife.

After getting married, we settled down in a small ranch home in Wawatosa, WI.. To start our family... Three kids later, we out grew our home and moved to Brookfield, WI to a larger home.. Importantly.. With more bed rooms, because our 4th child was on the way!! With our four children, we were firmly established in the community through thier school and sports activities. All our kids are now grown.. Married with families of thier own.. Which now makes us proud grand parents!! (I love being called Papa!!)

In 2005, my wife required surgical replacement of both knees due the arthritic issues. We then moved to a single story ranch home in Mukwonago, WI. Where we reside today.

In 1976, I began working for Applied Power, Inc.. Later for Actuant Corporation due to a company split. I have been very fortunate that my various poitions with the company enabled me to travel internationally which has resulted in the development of global friendships that I hope last forever. I really did enjoy working.. But I did finally retire in January, 2015, and my wife Margaret and I are still living in Mukwonago, WI... And anxiously waiting for Spring!! We do love Wisconsin with the four distinct seasons and the variety of fairs; farmers markets; our professional sports teams; and recreational opportunities; etc.. ... But there will always have a place in my heart for the the city of Streator and relationships from our years at SHS. My very best to all our classmates.


WI Theodore Voruz

I came to Streator at age 11. Came from St Louis a large metropolitan area. We lived in a changing neighborhood, which limited when and where I could play. Never felt safe or comfortable. Moving to Streator was like going to heaven.

The takeaway from these experiences was that I wanted to live in a small town. In my teens we went to Lake Geneva for a family vacation.Really liked a vacation community with a lake. As a racing fan we attended races at Road America which is located on the edge of Elkhart Lake. For several years we never visited the village. One rainy race weekend we visited the village. Found a Norman Rockwell town with a beautiful lake.

We purchased a small vacation condo and got to know the village people. Even though the village is small we found many activities appropriate for retired couples. Alice is involved with several woman's clubs. She is president of the Friends of the Library. We have read that it very important to be involved in social activities as we age.

Friday night fish fries are a cornerstone of life in Wisconsin. There is never a shortage of people willing to go to a fish fry on Friday night. We are very fortunate to have circle of friends for social activities and help when we need it. Sort of feels like Streator High. Instead of sock hops we have fish fries.