Fifty-six years later, Betty Mohlenbrock (’62) can still recite the play-by-play of her most memorable day on campus — when she was crowned homecoming queen.
“All the finalists — eight of us, I believe — were instructed to be in our residences by 8 o’clock on the evening that the announcement was to be made as to the person who had been elected Homecoming Queen 1961,” says the Urbana-born reading advocate, who founded the non-profit, United Through Reading, in 1966.
“Another of the finalists and I had a class together that evening, and both felt we would most likely not be selected — so, we went to class instead of remaining in our residences. Upon leaving class, I dropped by the Chi O house — I was actually living at home with my family in Urbana — to pick up some clothes I’d left there earlier that day.
“I walked onto the porch of the Chi O House and my dad was there pacing back and forth. I said ‘What are you doing here?’ He said ‘Where have you been? They’re waiting for you inside.’
“I walked in and will never forget the thrill of seeing all of my precious sorority sisters lined all the way up the beautiful stairwell at the Chi O House with a huge banner saying ‘Congratulations, Betty!!’ I was completely overwhelmed and thrilled — and a bit embarrassed that I hadn’t been where I was supposed to be.
“Bottom line is that being chosen Homecoming Queen at the U of I was beyond my wildest dreams or expectations. That is an experience I will always treasure.”