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Veletta Forsythe-Lill

Veletta Forsythe-Lill

Ret. executive director | Dallas Arts District | Class of 1979

An Illini love story, DeLuxe Lunch & Billiards edition:

“Blocks from the corner of Wright, on Green Street stood a bar/billiard parlor, DeLuxe Lunch & Billiards. With a patina of decades of grease, smoke and dust, the hangout for a mix of students, profs and townies alike was the place to ‘dine’ on Friday afternoons.  

“At that time, half the pool tables were covered with plastic tablecloths. These makeshift tables were used for the purpose of dining on the city’s best fish sandwiches — batter-fried cod with large slices of onions, pickles and a secret special sauce.   

“One Friday afternoon, my friend who was taking sailplane instruction at the U of I Institute of Aviation, invited me to the DeLuxe for lunch and a little pool. We were to meet his flight instructor, another student. That flight instructor would turn out to be my future husband.  

“Our first date would be a flight in an aerobatic plane from Willard Airport to the grassy strip at Allerton Park, owned by U of I.  A walk in the park was followed by 30 minutes of terror-inducing aerobatics, when I proved my mettle by not admitting fear.  

“Our second date would be an Edward Albee play at Krannert, when he did not admit to his fear of ’theatre of the absurd.’  

“The stake was in the ground identifying our respective passions, which grew into shared ones over time.  

“My husband, an Institute of Aviation graduate, would go on to be an international airline pilot. I would go on to be the executive director of the nation’s largest urban arts district.”