Poshard: "I love this town, its people"

May 30th, 2014

A 1962 graduate of Carmi Township High School, soldier, teacher, coach, State Senator, Congressman, candidate for Governor, College Executive at John A. Logan, University Trustee and most recently retired President of Southern Illinois University, philanthropist, father, grandfather, husband and all around good guy.  That’s how Kiwanis member Barry Cleveland introduced Dr. Glenn Poshard to the club Thursday.

The recently retired SIU President avoided any controversy, instead offering up “things that mattered to me over the course of my life and my career.”  He began by introducing his wife Jo, founder and chairman of the Poshard Foundation for abused, neglected and abandoned children. 

In 2013, the foundation served approximately 1,800 children in southern Illinois alone. 

Poshard also kept it light by quipping a couple jokes.  “You guys hear about the two convicts in prison eating supper?  One looked over at the other and said, ‘ya know, the food was a lot better in here when you were Governor.’  Can you believe that?  Only in Illinois, right?”

From there, Poshard took the club back to his childhood home in White County in the Herald area where his family had a farm. 

His parents were “dyed in the wool Franklin Roosevelt Democrats.  My mother worked scrubbing floors at the nursing home.  My dad, only had one arm, worked on the WPA building roads and planting softwoods and pines throughout what would become the Shawnee National Forest.” 

He spoke of his early years in the Illinois State Senate and poked fun at the impossible task of simple humans to work out incredibly difficult problems, going so far as to say that 99% of all Democrats and Republicans in government are decent people.

He recalled his days at school and credited multiple teachers and the profession itself for its impact on society and especially him personally.  On his love of poetry, he talked of Emma Lou Dixon of Ridgway.  She was a substitute but recognized his passion, encouraged him and spent an hour a week working directly with him. 

“She gave me a confidence in myself.  One teacher.  One moment of time gave me the confidence to risk myself for the rest of my life before audiences that I never would’ve dreamed of addressing.  One teacher.  One moment in time.  You’ve seen these little bumper stickers that say ‘Teachers affect eternity.’  They really do.”

3rd grade Most Valuable Bullpups for the 4th Quarter are shown in one photo with Glenn and Jo Poshard.  The kids are (left to right):  Tanner Spence, Peyton Inabnit, Katelyn Niehaus, Marissa Carrell

Poshard shared the compassion shown to him by coach and educator John Evers.  That moment of compassion is still with him so many years later.  Jim Endicott, Poshard’s history teacher, was in attendance.  Poshard showered him with praise and appreciation saying, “I love you so much for everything you gave me.  It’s unbelievable.”

From there, Poshard moved on to his time as a soldier.  Sent to Korea about 60 miles north of Seoul, he and two friends would spend weekends helping out an orphanage.  They would buy clothes, food for children of Korean women and American servicemen, outcasts in that society.  There were 79 girls, 1 little boy and a small dog. 

Just two years ago, after reading a BYU alumni magazine, he came across an article written by an international renowned authority on child abuse, neglect and abandonment.  It turns out that she was in the orphanage that Poshard volunteered at during the time he was in the region. 

Three months ago, she came to speak at SIU and Poshard was able to meet an orphan “after 50 some odd years.  I always wondered what happened to those children.  And here was one who had become an international authority and I said dear God thank you.  You waited 50 years to show me this miracle but it came.  And that’s one of the highlights of my life.  As a result of that experience and some that my wife had in 34 years as a third grade teacher in Tunnel Hill, we started the foundation for these disenfranchised children.”  Learn more at www.poshardfoundation.org.

Art Saunders will serve as Program Chair for June and has a professor from Southern Illinois University – Carbondale scheduled to discuss Autism with the club.  To join or visit a Kiwanis Club meeting, visit www.carmikiwanis.org or call 382 – 4161.