September 29, 2004

Chester couple honored for distinguished service

by Greg Scott

CARBONDALE, Ill. - - A Chester couple respected and appreciated for more than 40 years of dedication to Southern Illinois University Carbondale will receive the 2004 Alumni Achievement Award for Distinguished Service.

John G. Saunders, a retired recreational specialist at the Chester Mental Health Clinic, and Linda B. Saunders, a retired special education teacher in the Chester school system, will receive the honor at a homecoming luncheon hosted by the SIU Alumni Association and the SIU Foundation Board of Directors on Friday, Oct. 1, in the Student Center.

Both are graduates of SIUC.

The award recognizes SIUC alumni or friends for exemplary service to the SIU Alumni Association and the University. John and Linda Saunders have exhibited an extraordinary commitment to Southern.

John, a four-year track letterman at Southern who received his bachelor's degree in recreation in 1963 and a master's degree in recreation in 1966, continued his commitment to the track program after graduation. He assisted former SIU track coach Bill Cornell at several track meets, serving as a judge and timer. In addition, he has served on the Alumni Association Athletics Committee, the alumni representative on the Chancellor's Intercollegiate Athletics Advisory Committee, and president of the former Saluki Booster Club.

Linda, who enrolled at SIUC in 1961, married John two years later. She completed her degree in special education in 1968. Linda, who retired from the Chester school system in 2003, also supervised student teachers. She currently serves as a substitute teacher in Chester and actively recruits students to her alma mater.

University community members often associate John and Linda Saunders with the Saluki dogs. For 19 years, John and Linda have provided Southern with live Saluki dogs, often seen at University sporting and public relations events. They have provided the University with five dogs since 1986. The last one, Tut, was humanely put to sleep on Saturday, June 26, 2004, after suffering with a malignant cancer of the blood vessels since April. He was 13 years old.

John and Linda have one son, Scott, who studied aviation at SIUC and is now a corporate pilot. They are life members of the SIU Alumni Association.