Peplows’ $1.25 million commitment benefits alumni center
As the president of the Bradley University Alumni Association in 1996–1997, GARY PEPLOW ’62 remembers talking with many involved alums and “wishing and hoping” a new alumni center could be built in the near future. Little did he know that 13 years later, he and his wife Judy would play a part in making that wish come true.
The University announced in fall 2008 that JERRY HAYDEN ’59 and MARILYN KELLER HAYDEN ’61 and BOB CLARK ’67 and his wife Kathleen had donated a total of $5 million toward the construction of the Hayden-Clark Alumni Center. The 34,700-square-foot facility is now well underway on the west side of Bradley Hall. The “home” for Bradley alumni will house a terrace and a ballroom accommodating 300 guests, an alumni library and hall of pride, conference rooms, the offices of Alumni Relations, and more.
“The generosity of the Haydens and Clarks started the ball rolling for us,” said Peplow. ”Bradley has always been a part of our estate plan, but when this opportunity for the new alumni center arose, we decided that this was the time. We wanted to have the pleasure of watching the building develop as opposed to waiting until we’re gone.“
The Peplows’ support will name the ballroom and the terrace overlooking the athletics facilities and the new West Quad. The Gary and Judy Peplow Pavilion, located on the top floor of the Alumni Center, will provide a facility for formal entertaining on a level not currently found on campus. With expansive windows that open to a lovely terrace that also bears the couple’s names, it will be the upscale setting for alumni reunions, meetings, luncheons, Greek formals, and events that are now held in the Michel Student Center ballroom or off campus.
Married for 36 years, the Peplows are Peoria natives. Judy grew up in West Peoria near Bradley’s campus. Although she did not attend Bradley, one of her fondest memories is traveling to Europe one summer with the Bradley Chorale. “She still talks about the trip and how much she enjoyed it,” added Peplow. “That is her connection.”
Honored as a Bradley Centurion in 2008, Peplow has been connected to the University in a variety of leadership positions. During college, he was an officer in Sigma Phi Epsilon, chaired the campus carnival, served on the Homecoming steering committee, and more. Since room and board were more prohibitive than tuition, Peplow and his sister BEVERLY PEPLOW ARBIZZANI ’58 lived at home while attending Bradley. “I was so involved on campus that I only slept at home,” Peplow recalled. “I consider my fraternity experience almost equal to my general college experience. I've been on the Sig Ep alumni board for a number of years, I've served as chapter counselor, and I've really enjoyed working with the young people.”
Peplow acknowledges his fraternity faculty adviser, Dr. Perry Davis, assistant professor of education, for encouraging him to consider law school, an unplanned career move.
“I credit Bradley for my law degree. I was one of three students in the first graduating class in the School of International Studies, and, of course, in 1962, the global economy had not yet kicked in. Dr. Davis told me that he hoped I didn’t mind, but he had taken the liberty of looking at my grades and test scores. He and my fraternity brother, [fellow Centurion] BILL TRIBLER ’55, encouraged me to take the law aptitude test and to enroll at the University of Illinois.”
A legacy of progress
Following the U of I, Peplow served in the Peoria Air National Guard as a procurement specialist and later as a legal officer. Although he was still interested in working in an international field, Peplow joined Heyl Royster Voelker and Allen in 1967 as a defense trial attorney. In 1970, he managed the firm’s first branch in Springfield. In 1985, he returned to Peoria to supervise litigation for the entire firm. Peplow became managing partner in 1987. He served as outside trial counsel for Southern Illinois University School of Medicine and lectured on loss prevention for the Illinois State Medical Society.
“I was the ninth attorney in the firm in 1967, but when I retired as managing partner, we had 95 attorneys in five cities. The largest firm in Illinois not in Chicago grew dramatically … I could not have asked for a more exciting legal career because I was able to just do the gamut of everything.”
This past summer, the avid skier climbed to the top of Bradley Hall and peered into the construction site of the Hayden-Clark Alumni Center. “It was amazing … much bigger than I thought it was going to be. When you are on campus and see all the development, it becomes apparent that Bradley has never stood still. My association through the alumni board now spans three BU presidents. You see progression. Judy and I are so eager to see the finished product. Since we have no children, the Gary and Judy Peplow Pavilion and Terrace, while allowing us to provide a personal gift to Bradley, will be a reminder that we walked the face of the earth.”