Jean (Gasaway) Noffke ’47
Heart and Consistent Support Remain at LC After 60+ Years
By Dan Naumovich, contributor
Jean (Gasaway) Noffke’s two collegiate alma maters are separated by 60 miles, but are in many ways worlds apart. Jean attended Lincoln College in her hometown for three years before heading off to the University of Illinois in Champaign to continue her education. While she cherishes both experiences, her heart and her support are with LC.
“It’s a small college and I had very happy memories there. I feel it needs my support more than (the University of Illinois.) Lincoln College has grown and it has a lot of integrity in its programs and its outreach to the community,” she says of her annual contributions to the school where she received an associate’s degree in 1947.
Over the past 20+ years, Jean has been one of the most consistent givers to Lincoln College’s annual fund. She recognizes that as a small, private institution, the school is dependent on the generosity of its alumni and friends to improve the educational experience of today’s students, and those who will follow. A gift of any amount, given annually, will have a significant impact on the school’s future.
Jean arrived at the college after high school, along with many of her friends. She didn’t know much about the school prior to attending.
“I didn’t know the real history. I just read it again, actually. I did always feel really proud that we had a college in our town,” she recalls.
Hearkening back to her college days, Jean describes the atmosphere as one where “we knew everybody.” She was impressed how the architecture of University Hall gave the campus a rich, historical feel. As for her studies, Onalee Balof – a history professor and later an admissions counselor for the school beginning in the mid 1940s – made the biggest impression on Jean.
“She always had a smile on her face. She taught with so much enthusiasm. In History, you almost felt like she had been there. I remember her as being an outstanding teacher and a very nice person,” Jean says.
A Lincoln College legacy, Jean followed in the path of her mother, Ferne Gasaway, who attended the college in the 1920s when it was still a four-year institution. Ferne was a proud alumna who enjoyed attending alumni events on campus. When she passed away, the late John Gehlbach – the esteemed local attorney and long-serving trustee of the school – attended the services to pay his respects.
Jean noted Gehlbach’s kind gesture when recalling her relationship to the school, referring to him as a “bright light” of the institution. It’s also a telling tale of how deep and intimate the lines in the Lincoln College family tree run. Today Jean lives in West Lake, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland. Not long after graduating from the University of Illinois, she and her husband made their way to Indiana, and then to Ohio, where they raised four children. At 84, she’s still active in her community and with various groups.
After her mother passed away, Jean no longer had occasion to make the trip back to Lincoln. Yet the central Illinois community where she was raised and the school where she spent three memorable years still hold a special place in heart. Her annual contribution to the school is her way of saying thank you, while helping to ensure that Lincoln College remains a welcoming home for students drawn to its personable touch.
“ It’s important to support where the need is the greatest. And where the reward is the greatest,” she says.