April 29, 2014

Cuendet to discuss book, childhood memories

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill.  -- Educator and author Patricia Dey Cuendet will bring a bit of Southern Illinois University Carbondale history to life on May 15 when she talks about her experiences living in a home in an area where the Student Center is now. 

Cuendet’s new children’s mystery, “A Ghost in the Garden,” features her one-time home, known as the “Thompson House,” as the setting for her book.  Cuendet, who lives in Carbondale, will give a presentation at 10 a.m. on the seventh floor of Morris Library overlooking Thompson Woods. Refreshments will follow.  The presentation is free and open to the public. 

For a time as a child in the 1950s, Cuendet lived with her family, including her father, Raymond Dey, then-dean of SIU’s extension division, in the “Thompson House.” The home was centrally located on campus and Cuendet and her grade-school friends from the University Lab School would explore the house, Thompson Woods, campus lake and other nearby sites.  The woods and the lake were once part of the home’s estate.  The home was later torn down as the university continued to grow. 

Cuendet’s memories and area Civil War history are the foundation of a fictionalized novel about four young friends, one of whom lives in the Thompson House, and their adventures.  The children encounter Civil War-era ghosts, secret rooms and a variety of obstacles and thrills in their quest to save the home from the wrecking ball, in part by proving it was a station on the Underground Railroad. 

Cuendet is a double alumna, earning a bachelor’s degree in education and a master’s degree in educational psychology in 1959 and 1968, respectively.  She completed her doctorate in educational leadership in 1992 at Arizona State University. 

The College of Education and Human Services annually awards a scholarship bearing Cuendet’s name. 

Her career includes teaching positions in public, private and university laboratory schools in several states and serving as an elementary school principal in Chandler, Ariz. for 13 years.  She also taught evening classes for the University of Phoenix and was a field supervisor for the University of San Francisco before returning to Carbondale a few years ago. 

After the presentation those attending may take a walk through Thompson Woods to survey the home’s former site and look for remnants possibly still in the woods.  

Although there is no cost to attend the event, organizers ask that you register by contacting Kristine B. McGuire at 618/453-1633 or by email at kmcguire@lib.siu.edu to allow sufficient planning for refreshments.