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John Creech

John Creech

Chief Illiniwek 31 | Johnson & Johnson Vision | Class of 1996

In his lukewarm review of 1994’s Joe Pesci and Brendan Fraser-led “With Honors,” Roger Ebert wrote:

“Walking out of (the theater), I heard someone behind me scoffing that it was impossible for a homeless man to live in the furnace room of Harvard’s Widener Library. Maybe so. But at the University of Illinois, which I attended, and which doubles for Harvard in this movie’s graduation scene, I had a friend who lived in the furnace room of The Daily Illini, and survived on a diet of powdered milk, instant gelatin, dog biscuits and raw fruit and vegetables. He was arrested once for trying to give away Bibles in front of the library.”

Something else about that movie you ought to know: the prop crew had to get creative in making Champaign resemble Cambridge, Mass. Take it from John Creech, who just so happened to be in the crowd.

“I remember joining my friends on the Quad in front of Foellinger Auditorium to watch the filming of the graduation scene,” says Chief Illiniwek No. 31. “Trees and shrubs hadn’t yet started to bloom because it was early spring. So the movie crew stapled blooming branches in all the trees and shrubs around the filming area. We had so much fun watching the movie-making process and trying to catch glimpses of movie stars.”

It was almost as much fun as the now-principal clinical research associate for Johnson & Johnson Vision had at Memorial Stadium during the Lou Tepper and Ron Turner eras.

“I have many fond memories of meeting up with the Marching Illini outside the Harding Band Building on the Saturday mornings of home football game days,” Creech says from Ohio. “I would walk alongside the band as they marched to Memorial Stadium. The band’s music and chants would galvanize and energize students, alumni and spectators all along the way. 

“I can’t think of any better way to start game day.”