Hello! My name is Gay Greenwood Kirkton, and I was a member of the pledge class of the fall of 1975 and a graduate of the May class of 1979. I majored in speech and English education and spent most of my career teaching at Dekalb High School in Auburn, Indiana, north of Fort Wayne. I attended the 85th anniversary weekend this past summer and was so impressed with all that the alumni board has accomplished! I only hope I can keep up with them as I begin my tenure!
I grew up in Chatham, Illinois, and I always hoped to attend the U of I because my father graduated from there. I heard many stories of his experiences in his classes and living at Illi- Dell. We spent a few weekends every year visiting with his Illi- Dell buddy Bill Gossett and his wife Nancy, who lived at 4-H House. When I knew I was accepted to U of I, I did indeed interview and was thrilled to get the call asking me to pledge! I live a fuller life professionally and socially because I lived at 4-H House.
I have been retired for 4 years after teaching high school English and speech and serving as a literacy coach for a total of 36 years. I earned a master’s degree in Communication from Purdue and then lived mostly in northeastern Indiana, but in the early 90’s my family lived in Roseville, Illinois, where my husband taught and coached. I taught at Yorkwood Jr. Sr. High and was excited to learn a pledge sister, Deb Mueller, lived in the district with her family. I was privileged to teach both her son and her daughter, and I remember discussing with Krystal, now Krystal Campbell Jungmann, about how she should set a goal to live at 4-H House. Now we share alumni status!
I met my husband Rick in my first year of teaching at Fountain Central High School in Veedersburg, Indiana, but he is also from Illinois, having grown up on a farm near Gridley. We have a daughter Katie who is a graphic designer and the creative manager for the Indiana Society of CPAs in Indianapolis. Our son is one step closer to his dream of farming, having just purchased 20 acres near Shakamak State Park in southern Indiana. He also works as a diesel mechanic for Casey’s, servicing the delivery trucks and refrigerated trailers in Terre Haute.
Because I live in Indiana, I have often explained how the University of Illinois is really the BEST university and that there is nothing better than 4-H House sisterhood. I have tried to convince Indiana students to major in ag at U of I instead of Purdue so they could live at 4-H House. I have introduced my best Indiana girlfriend to Kathy Linker Lafrenz, and I think she finally understands just how special 4-H House sisters are. I love attending 4-H House reunions like the one this past summer because when I reconnect with a sister, we immediately pick up where we left off as if no time has passed.
I am grateful to be able to give my time to the organization that gave me lifelong friends who have been role models for what a life of fulfillment is all about.