A digital special section of | Subscribe

Tom Trone

Tom Trone

Retired director/sales | John Deere | Class of 1973

Attending the UI during the Vietnam era was an experience like none other.

Trust Tom Trone (MS '73) on that one.

“It was a period of intense political anti-war protests and racial unrest, and many classrooms reflected the turmoil happening across the country,” says John Deere’s former director of sales and marketing, now an adjunct professor at Illinois State. 

“Many professors were shouted down during their lectures, demanding that he or she talk about important sociopolitical issues versus academic ‘BS.’ Police and National Guard troops occupied campus on more than one occasion. Hundreds were arrested. Campus buildings were damaged, some looted.

"It seems surreal and unreal, but it did happen.”

Also unique to that period: a Green Street hot spot that served up the most delectable fried fish sandwiches Campustown has ever known (“The DeLuxe would have been featured on ‘Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives,’ for sure,” Trone says) and a dreamy football season (1983’s 10-2 Rose Bowl team).

“The Mike White team lead by Jack Trudeau, Thomas Rooks, David Williams and Don Thorp was phenomenal,” Trone says. “After a disappointing first game loss to Missouri, the team went 9-0, defeating every other Big Ten team, including Michigan and Ohio State at home. The entire state was electrified all season. 

“The 45-9 loss (to UCLA) at the Rose Bowl doesn’t count.”