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Ron Spears

Ron Spears

Former circuit judge | Christian County (1993-2005) | Class of 1974

Long before he'd become a Christian County circuit judge, the Hon. Ron Spears manned the grill part-time at Second Chance his final two years at the UI.

Back then, in the mid-'70s, you never knew who'd show up at the late, great Campustown bar.

"Several members of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity were in management and they hired many SAEs to work," says Spears, now a Taylorville-based mediator/arbitrator. "I was a cook and tended bar after the grill closed. The place was beautiful and one of the most popular near campus.

"There were many interesting times at Second Chance. We had great cheeseburgers and one day, several young guys wanted to get some cheeseburgers as trade for some pizza by the slice they were selling across the street. Those young guys were Ralph and Joe, the Flying Tomato Brothers who developed Garcia's pizza in a pan. They used to fly a giant Tomato Hot Air Baloon over the football stadium during games.

"Another time, Hugh Hefner came in for lunch and had Barbie Benton with him. Barbie left Second Chance to go to Kam's and so many people followed her, it looked like she was the Pied Piper of Hamelin.

"It was sad to learn that Second Chance burned down and was not rebuilt.

"I married another UI graduate and we are still fanatic Illini sports supporters, with season tickets in football and basketball. We have made most all the bowl games and NCAA Tournament games.

"Our bucket list includes watching a Rose Bowl and NCAA championship game that the Illini win. They better hurry — our 50-year high school class reunions are just around the corner."