I was in the first grade at Central Grade School (now torn down and taken over by Illinois State University). Mr. Beamer, our principal, announced the assassination over the loudspeaker, and my first-grade teacher cried at her desk.

I remember all the coverage on television with Walter Cronkite and the long funeral procession coverage on our black and white television.

Bonnie Lucas, Normal

I was in graduate school at the University of Iowa and teaching social studies at University High School. My students were shocked at the events in Dallas. My husband and I had tickets to the Iowa-Notre Dame football game the next day. The game was canceled. I do not know if the Big Ten ever canceled games before.

Kay Ramseyer, Normal

I was in the Army in a MASH hospital in Augsburg, Germany. In less than 24 hours, our whole hospital had been loaded onto planes, circling in an unknown location so that we could be sent anywhere in the world in case of a follow-up strike. At the time, it was thought the Russians were responsible. Scary time.

Clyve Baade, Bloomington

An announcement over my high school’s P.A. just after lunch instructed everyone to return to their homerooms. Minutes later, the homeroom teacher answered the phone on the wall and, within seconds, his shoulders sank and he leaned/fell back against the wall. He told us the president had been killed in Dallas.

Marc Lebovitz, Normal

I was in the journalism building (at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee), reading The Associated Press wire, when bells rang, followed by the words “FLASH — KENNEDY SHOT.” I stood transfixed at the machine as hours of subsequent bulletins came in. Later, I realized how exciting it had been to be the first person in town to learn the news and spread it. I changed my major and graduated with a B.S. in journalism. I was an AP writer from 1964 to ’74.

Dennis Sorensen, Bloomington

I heard that President Kennedy had been shot in the teachers’ workroom at a school where I was teaching in Cincinnati, Ohio. Everyone was crying. President Kennedy inspired me to join the Peace Corps, and I taught for two years at a boys’ boarding school in Musom, Tanzania, East Africa.

Gretta Conlan Barclay, Normal

I was home in Rockford when I turned on our TV. Walter Cronkite came on with the news. … In a stressful three days, I saw Vice President Johnson sworn in as president, Kennedy’s funeral, and Lee Harvey Oswald shot by Jack Ruby. In the midst of all the bad news, I received good news. I was hired to teach art in Whitewater, Wis.

Sharon Sprengelmeyer, Bloomington

I was 11 and at school when over the intercom we were told President Kennedy was shot. The whole school was sent to the gym. The principal told us that President Kennedy had died. We were sent home early that day. All were in disbelief — sad — many were crying from this news.

Judith Cook, Bloomington

I was in fifth grade when JFK was assassinated. I had gone home from lunch and it came on TV. When I went back to school, our classroom sat and listened to the news on the radio the rest of the school day. Many students and teachers were crying.

Marilyn Carls, Flanagan

On Nov. 22, 1963, I was 5 years old in kindergarten. I remember my mother coming to the school to take me home early. I started to cry because I would not get my afternoon snack at school. On our way home, my mom took me to a convenience store and bought me a snack. The rest of the day, I remember watching the events of JFK’s assassination on our black and white TV.

Luther E. Woodard Jr., Bloomington

I was in fourth grade. My mom had come to the school to pick me up to go to the doctor. You see, the day before I got bit by a ground squirrel so on the 22nd of November I had to have my first rabies shot in a series of 21 shots in my stomach. I was laying in bed with my stomach hurting from the shot when I saw it on TV. There I was, a 9-year-old-girl, crying and thinking of his small kids and being very sad. I will never forget it.

Debby Melton, Lexington

I was 16 and working part-time at Bloomington Federal Savings and Loan Association. The place was eerily silent and co-workers were just standing around. My boss said President Kennedy had been killed in Dallas. … All of the now-iconic images played out live on our TV in our living room. JFK’s death and funeral coverage charged the medium of TV and America forever.

Pam Zweng, Bloomington

I was in the Peace Corps, living on an oasis in Morocco. I was at a small dinner party when the news in French came on. Everyone was crying except me. I left and walked around the oasis all night, and by then I was crying too, all night.

Kurt Shafer, Chatsworth

I was preparing for my wedding on the next day. My husband was in the Navy serving on the aircraft carrier USS Ranger, based in Alameda, Calif., and all leaves were halted immediately because of the assassination. A few hours later, when things were more under control, he was able to leave and we were married on Nov. 23, 1963. We were married for almost 46 years before my husband passed away in October 2010.

Marge Loughran, Pontiac

As a senior at Gibson City High School, I heard the news over the school intercom. I entered my world history class in shock — disbelief, numbness. Who would do this? Is this a conspiracy? Why? A deep grief consumed this day, this nation, this young soul.

Fran Ferrill, Clinton

It was a Friday, early afternoon. I had just put my two little boys (ages 3 and 1{) down for their afternoon nap. I was washing up the lunch dishes and watching “As The World Turns” on Channel 3 when the news came in. Needless to say, the rest of that day and the entire weekend we were glued to the television set watching history in the making. What a sad time for our country.

Kay Mitchell, LeRoy

I was sitting in a history class on my 15th birthday when all of a sudden, without any announcement, the intercom came on. We could tell it was a radio talking and thought someone in the office had hit a button by mistake. There were a few giggles and then we began hearing what was being said. A girlfriend leaned across the aisle and said, “Pam, it’s your birthday... .” For many years, if I told people my birthday, they would sadly mention Kennedy’s death. People usually don’t remember now unless I bring the date to their attention.

Pam Buggar, Bloomington

State Farm Insurance (home office) was my employer on the afternoon when President Kennedy was shot. … The rest of the day was at a standstill and no one was able to work. The following days were by the TV set. There was a feeling of unity where we all grieved together.

Ann Foulk, Normal

I was a sophomore at Peoria Richwoods High School. I was playing water polo in physical education class when the announcement came over the public address system that the president had been shot. I then went to my next class, Spanish, and everyone was in shock.

Dan Duncan, Bloomington

The assassination woke my political consciousness. The next year, at age 9, I watched both parties’ conventions, and that started a life-long involvement in politics. I worked on campaigns, became vice president of the student council in 1972, and was elected to the Bloomington City Council in 1981.

Steve Simms, Saybrook

JFK and his family were America’s royal family and I always had high regard for the Kennedys. When he was shot in Dallas, it was four days of hell. Nothing seemed real. I love his saying, “Ask not what you country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” “Camelot” will always ring true about John and Jackie.

Kenneth D. Lee, Cullom

I was in line for a haircut on the first day in boot camp at Great Lakes when the company commander announced the President had been shot. My first thought was that it was some kind of psychological trick they were playing on us. When we knew it wasn’t, the next thought was, “Are the Russians going to attack?”

William Rich, Pontiac

I was in sixth grade. Dad had dropped me off at school at noon. Classmates were abuzz with the news. We didn’t know for a while about Kennedy’s condition. Then came the unthinkable announcement by our principal, who then offered a prayer. We watched the television coverage the entire weekend.

Jo Ann Duncan, Bloomington

I had just sat down to feed my baby and watch “As the World Turns” when it was interrupted by the bulletin that the president had been shot. I had to leave for work and when I arrived, I was advised that he had died. Our patients were very sad and almost everyone had tears in their eyes. Our daughter, who was 5 at the time, was a fan of Caroline.

Barbara Johnson, Minier


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