Urbana’s future mayor cast the first of five decades’ worth of votes in — where else? — Urbana.
It was 1972, when Democrat gubernatorial candidate Dan Walker was on the ballot and Diane Wolfe Marlin was a UI sophomore.
“This was shortly after the voting age was lowered from 21 to 18, and it was hugely important because of the opposition to the draft and the Vietnam War,” says Marlin, a two-degree UI grad, parent and retiree.
“Walker caught everyone's attention because he actually did walk over a thousand miles around the state to meet people where they lived.
“He also chaired the committee that investigated how Chicago Mayor Richard Daley handled the 1968 Democratic Convention. I was living in Lincoln Avenue Residence Hall, so I'm pretty sure my first vote was cast in Urbana, Illinois, and I must have voted for (George) McGovern, too.
“In November of ’72, I also joined Students for Environmental Concerns and volunteered in the fight to save Allerton Park from flooding by the Army Corps of Engineers' Oakley dam/reservoir project proposed for the Sangamon River. Dan Walker won his race, and I later got to meet him on a picket line on the U of I Quad.
"Walker supported the Oakley Project but opposed another dam project on the Embarras River."
A fond memory isn't all Marlin gained from her activist days on campus.
"I met my future husband on a picket line, discovered a wonderful, vibrant community surrounding the university, and here I am, (going on 50) years later."