The Illinois College community is in deep mourning for one of their most distinguished alumni. Former Illinois Congressman Paul Findley passed away Friday at the age of 98. Illinois College President Dr. Barbara Farley got to know Findley personally since her arrival in Jacksonville of 2013.
Dr. Farley spoke candidly about her friendship with the late lawmaker. “Paul Findley was a great friend and mentor to me. When I arrived in Jacksonville in 2013, he reached out to me, welcomed me warmly to the Illinois College community; and I had the opportunity to develop a wonderful friendship with him. We talked frequently. I was lucky to be able to join him at his house on West College Avenue over the years. We would have porch chats and enjoy having lunch together. I learned a lot about Congressman Findley’s career, his deep commitment to service, his love for our country, his love for Jacksonville and the region he served as a member of the House of Representatives. This is a very sad day for the entire Illinois College community and for me personally. He was a wonderful friend and we will miss him.”
Farley spoke about Findley deep involvement with Illinois College, the same school he graduated from Phi Beta Kappa in 1943. “We sought his council and his optimism about the future of our country and of the college – a college he loved deeply. He was very involved in the Phi Alpha literary society. He was really the father of Phi Alpha and attended many productions on campus and was very close to the men of Phi Alpha. Congressman Findley also introduced the college to Dr. Khalaf Al Habtoor.”
Khalaf Al Habtoor, Congressman Findley, and former President Jimmy Carter shared the stage of a famous event at the college for the Phi Alpha Literary Society lecture in 2014. Habtoor now has a dedicated archive at the college thanks to his partnership with Findley and the introductions made nearly a decade ago.
Dr. Farley said that Findley’s deep commitment to people led to a special day for her. “I had a lot of contact with Congressman Findley and saw in him someone who was just deeply committed to progress in our country; he cared for others; he was a true servant and believed strongly in the value of public service to country and community. He was also a member of Rotary and I was so fortunate that during my first year at Illinois College that as a member, he introduced me to the Rotary community. I will remember that as a very special day.”
Dr. Farley says the campus will be a part of the tribute to Findley’s life in the days ahead. “The campus sends condolences to the entire Findley Family and we will be honored to host the visitation on Tuesday and to be part of the delegation to his funeral on Wednesday morning. We will mourn his loss and celebrate his amazing life.”
A memorial service will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, August 14, 2019, at First Presbyterian Church, 870 West College Avenue, Jacksonville, Illinois. The family will meet friends from 4 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, August 13, 2019, at the Paul Findley Congressional Office Museum, located in Whipple Hall on the campus of Illinois College, 1101 West College Avenue, Jacksonville, Illinois. Williamson Funeral Home will be in charge of arrangements.