Marty Rademacher's arrival at Illinois State Normal in 1955 was not an auspicious one, although he would later qualify as a poster person for Horatio Alger tales.
"I literally was on my own when I arrived in Normal," said Rademacher. "I was 17 years old, did not have a scholarship, and little money. My parents had divorced and my father had moved to Tennessee and my mother to Paxton.
"I just walked in and said I would like to play football. They said OK and gave me a helmet, shoes and uniform. I had no transportation, so I could not return to Gilman very often. There were a few times when other students were going to Chicago and they would drop me off at Gilman and pick me up on their way back."
By his own admission, Rademacher went from being a C student with little motivation to being a serious student and graduated with a 3.3 grade point average on a 4.0 scale.
"I credit that to Illinois State," said Rademacher.
Rademacher, who is in the Illinois State Athletics Hall of Fame, will be inducted into the ISU College of Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame at festivities Friday and Saturday.
When Rademacher graduated in four years with a math major and a physical education minor, he had played football for four years, participated in track four years, swam for two years and set a conference javelin record.
He worked 30 hours per week, mainly for Bill Bryan's service station while also fulfilling his ROTC requirements and later won the Redbird Award, given to a senior for excellence in academics and athletics. He also met his future wife, Sally Newcomb, an ISNU cheerleader.
"I worked for Bill Bryan until the day before I graduated," said Rademacher. "I worked after practice, after games, and on weekends."
He accomplished all this while seeking Normal restaurants that served meals for 50 cents. It was possible during that era and he recalls eating at Cline's Coffee Shop a lot.
Rademacher no longer has to find cheap, but filling restaurants.
He and Sally, who have been involved in Senior Olympics, have hiked in Italy, Scotland, Ireland, England and China, although he still works 60 hours per month as an analyst, consultant and trainer for Tech Service Corp., which does government work.
Following graduation, Rademacher served three years as a Marine Corps officer, and then was employed by the Aerospace Corporation in California.
In 1977, Rademacher and three other Aerospace employees joined together in establishing a new area of business for the 11-person Geodynamics in Springfield, Va. During Rademacher's technical leadership, Geodynamics grew to 600 employees, went public in 1985 and was bought out in 1996.
The company was sold again in 2001 when Rademacher became a part-timer; albeit a prosperous one.
Ironically, Bob O'Dell, who was instrumental in the development of the Hubble telescope, a distinguished Vanderbilt professor, and an ISNU football teammate of Rademacher, will present Marty at the induction.
Rademacher recalls those freshman football days at ISNU when he and O'Dell were guards. "We were about 165 ponds and Paul Brush and Bill Booker, the senior guards, really pushed us around. Both of them were service veterans and very tough."
Rademacher later moved to end.
He credits assistant football and track coach Carl Heldt; English professor Howard Fielding; head track coach Joe Cogdal; Bernice Frey, anatomy and physiology; and T.E. Rine, mathematics and astronomy, for their motivation at State Normal.
When Rademacher visited State Normal following his Marine Corps-flight training, a track meet was in progress. Cogdal and Heldt pressed him into run the javelin while Del Swearingen was asked to run the discus.
And he will always remember the trip back from the Drake Relays when Cogdal, who was known to have a heavy foot on the pedal, received a speeding ticket.
Rademacher did not receive a teaching degree from ISNU, but he did student teaching under future baseball coach Duffy Bass at Metcalf School.
Jim Barnhart is the retired sports editor of The Pantagraph. Contact him at email@example.com