Article on Don Deany From the Lafayette Leader (Indiana)
June5, 2009Don Deany, 74, Watseka, grew up in a neighboring county but spent most of his teaching and administrative career in Iroquois County. He was part of both Middleport Grade School and the Crescent City schools, as well as the Regional Office of School.
Grade schoolI'm Donald Deany. I was born in Pontiac in Livingston County in 1935. I grew up in Ford County, east of Cullom. I attended a one-room country school until about the sixth grade. The school burned over the Christmas holidays after it had been cleaned. Then I went to the school where my father's family had attended and my great-aunt had taught school at one time. It was just down the road from my great-grandfather's farm and my great-great grandparents farms. After the school burned and we finished the year, the schools in Livingston County and part of Ford County consolidated and I finished at Cullom Grade School. I went on to Cullom High School and graduated in the class of '53.High schoolOne of the things about going to high school at that time school was on the edge of town. After basketball practice I had friends who would take their shotguns to school in the morning and put them in their lockers. After school and after basketball practice for an hour or so they would go hunt in the land north of town. I often think of that and how we would have the state police and FBI and everyone else at school checking out these people and probably be carting them off in handcuffs today. When I graduated from high school, I knew there wasn't enough land for me to farm so I started school as a business education major. I attended several universities. I had my traveling around. I started in Austin, Texas, at St. Edward's University. Then I finished at Illinois State University where I got my Bachelor's degree while I was teaching school, at that time, you could take an exam. I took the teacher's exam. I passed it. I taught in Chatsworth for a teacher on a leave of absence and I taught in Forrest. Then I went back to Chatsworth for a few years.Middleport Grade SchoolIn 1963 Joyce Sloter and I were married and we came here. I became the upper grade teacher, principal, and coach at Middleport Grade School in Pittwood. The building still stands a block south of the Pittwood Road. I kind of like to talk about the Pittwood school. When I was there we only had 67 kids. We had some good athletes. When the season ended one year, we put the basketball jerseys on and we had the Trudeaus, Lyndon Swanson, Kerry Bell, Dennis Koonce, Cluver and played an intramural ballgame. If you go back and look at the records in the '70s with Watseka High School, those Pittwood boys were all very good players. They continued on and some played in college.
Crescent-Iroquois High School
I was there for three years and in 1966 I went to Crescent City as the grade school superintendent. I also taught three classes of math. The next year I became the high school administrator too. In '67 I became the superintendent of the Crescent City school. I had gone to Crescent in 1966 and was there for 17 years. It was one of the fortune things as people retired we were able to find very good teachers. A reason a lot of the students were so successful, in addition to their own ability and talent, was a fine faculty. One of the sad things in my life will be attend the Crescent-Iroquois graduation this weekend and see the last time some of those faculty members will be teaching school. I was able to hire a great group of teachers. We had some great students and great basketball teams. We can all remember the team in 1977 that went to the state tournament. We didn't win but we were one of the smaller schools to make it to the Assembly Hall, which brought a great deal of pride in the community. We think of the fine basketball teams through the years.
In one of the classes we had there was a student who did ophthalmology, another was a dentist and a third had a doctorate degree in one of the other sciences. It was probably unusual there were three in one class. It tells you a lot about the ability that those students had. There were other students who did very well in musical careers, farming, whatever. There was a lot of talent, hard working people who wanted to succeed. We have to salute people like that today. I can remember one of the days when I was at the high school I parked my car away from the front of the building at the grade school. When I got home that night some jokester had taken confetti and put it in my car. Until the day I traded it, whenever I turned on the heat you were likely to get some confetti coming from the heater. I was glad to get rid of that because it seemed I was always getting confetti. I don't know how they managed to get down in the heater but they did.
In 1983 I went into the Regional Office of Schools in the basement of the courthouse in Watseka. Mr. Clifford Bury retired in April of 1986 when I was appointed the regional superintendent of school. I served there until 1995. There was reorganization from 57 regional superintendents to 35. I retired and when I retired I thought, "Oh, this is going to be nice." I couldn't work in Illinois because of retirement laws, so I went over and substituted in Indiana for a few days. It just happened there was a parochial school in Kentland where I was subbing that needed a principal. I told the pastor that if he had trouble finding a principal that I would be glad to help out. In June we came back from vacation and there was a phone call saying, "We have everybody but the principal. Will you come?" I went over and talked with him. I thought this would be interesting and I could work three days a week. I did this for two years and I retired again. In the middle of the summer the phone rang and the pastor at the church in Fowler said the nuns have left, "Would you be our principal? We have a lady who wants to be principal but we have to have somebody with an Indiana principal license. I went to Fowler for two years. I retired again. That same summer I got another phone call and I drove to Rensselaer for two years. I also had a lady who filled in when I wasn't there. With my 36 years in public school and my 11 years in parochial schools I accumulated a lot of teaching. One of the sad things was that early on we had the vocational center, which is now the Administrative Center of Iroquois County. I was here when that began and as the secretary and on the regional board of school trustees I had to sign the lease transferring it over to county ownership. Now, you can see we have students going to the KCC center. It was a sad day because at that time, that type of education was needed for student in our area.
I have the Irish background. Back in history, one of my great-grandmothers was buried in Loda at the Pine Ridge Cemetery. A lot of the Deany are buried in Gilman Cemetery at St. Mary's. My grandfather was the one in that family who did not work on the railroad. The Deany family became the engineers and the train conductors. One of my great-uncles was the chief attorney for the Illinois Central Railroad office in Chicago. My mother's family came from Germany. This summer we're having a Dohman family reunion. The Dohman came from Dortmun and my mother's relatives are still there. A couple of my mother's relatives are still there. I have not been back to Germany or Ireland. We had planned on doing that when 9/11 came and we couldn't convince ourselves to take off after that happened. My mother's parents went to Germany when she was a little girl. She had an older sister and an older brother and a younger brother that went with the. Grandma got so homesick she wanted to go back after the war. The inflation came so grandpa knew he had to get out of there. He had a 10 acre farm. He sold that and, evidently, he had a lot of money and he still had to wire a relative here to loan him some money for the rest of the passage. He came back and worked on a farm until he could afford to rent a farm. He rented a farm just south of Cullom, not too far from where my father's family had lived. He bought some land around Charlotte, which is in between Chatsworth and Cullom. My mother still has part of the land grandpa had bought just before World War II.