MACOMB, IL – A high school marching band connection led to a Western Illinois University connection for two alumni, who are now honoring their former WIU Director of Bands with a scholarship to assist students for years to come.
Deb (Ferris) Reavis and Kevin Reavis were both inspired by their high school band director to further pursue music after graduation, and both of their mentors told them that Western was the place to be. Deb’s mentor was the incomparable former WIU Director of Bands Dale Hopper, who just happened to be her band director at Herscher (IL) High School. Hopper left Herscher High in 1978, but his influence led Deb to WIU in 1981 to study music therapy. Even though marching band had been a part of Kevin’s high school years, attending college wasn’t in his initial plans for life after high school.
“I got a job after graduation and continued to perform with some local musicians from my hometown, but in Fall 1982, I saw the WIU Marching Band perform in Metamora (IL), and I was intrigued by their amazing performance,” Kevin said. “That moment sparked my interest in WIU and motivated me to investigate going to back school. Once my path crossed with Dale Hopper, it was fate. WIU was the place for me.”
The couple, who met at WIU, attribute their lifelong friendships, financial well-being and career success to Western.
“Everything good in our life began with and continues to grow from our experiences at the University,” they added.
Because of that affinity, the Reavises have established the Kevin and Deborah Reavis Endowment for University Bands.
“Bruce Prueter was the director of music therapy at Western, and he was a major influence on starting me down the path of working with special needs individuals,” Deb explained.
For Kevin, Jon Dugle also had a major impact on his career as a public school band director.
“The music department was a special place filled with devoted faculty. They all had an impact on both of us, but the individual I connected with most was Director of Bands Dale Hopper. Everything good in my life can be connected to Mr. Hopper. I think of him everyday,” Kevin added.
WIU Executive Director of the Foundation Brad Bainter added that faculty like Hopper, who passed away unexpectedly in 2005, make a lasting impact.
“The experiences provided to our students are incomparable,” Bainter added. “The connections made at Western is what really sets us apart from others. The Reavises are a testament to the impact faculty and staff have on students, and because of those connections, our alumni, like the Reavises, want to support generations of students. I’d like to thank Kevin and Deb for their generosity and for ensuring the success of WIU Bands for years to come.”
The pair decided to give back to the alma mater that gave them so much because the campus and Macomb mean so much to them.
“Deb and I are nearing the end our careers as public school teachers. We have been fortunate to spend our entire career living and working just 60 minutes from WIU, and we would both like to see the music department continue to succeed and have the potential to improve the lives of others as it has done for us,” Kevin said. “This was our motivation for making WIU Bands the recipient of our estate planning. We want WIU Bands to have the ability to recruit future talent into the program and continue to provide individuals with the opportunity to experience all of the same successes in life that Deb and I were fortunate to have experienced. We want WIU and WIU bands to be here 100 years from now.”