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Mike Harring

Mike Harring

Retired VP | Deere & Company | Class of 1972

In the kitchen at the rickety old "White House," near the corner of Second and Armory, chef/owner K.E. Wilkerson’s popular motto was “only love beats butter.”

“Meals were usually pretty good,” as Mike Harring (LAS ’72) remembers them, “but when his budget ran out at the end of the month, we would have ‘candlelight pancake dinners.’

“It was dumb luck that brought me to the White House for my junior year,” says Harring, who’d go on to become VP and deputy general counsel at Deere & Company and interim executive director of the Quad City Symphony Orchestra.

“My freshman and sophomore years were a mixed bag — some good, some not so good. I thought I should take a semester off to ‘reboot.’ My father convinced me otherwise, but now I had no place to live.

“He and my grandfather drove me from the northwest suburbs to Champaign on a sweltering July day to find a place to live. There were not many choices at that time of year. The White House had a room. That fact changed my life for the better.

“The students living at the White House were different from my dorm friends. Not only were they serious students, they were admirable people of high character and morals. They created an atmosphere for study and ambition. Even more importantly, I learned interpersonal skills from them that probably meant more to my business and legal career than anything academic.

“The White House is also responsible for my happiness in another most important way. It was while living there that I started dating a beautiful Illinois coed residing in the Triad. She sometimes visited her friend from high school who roomed across the hall from me and who I knew from Hopkins Hall.

“This summer, the former Lois Dal Santo (LAS ’73) and I will have been married for 44 years.”