David ’59 and JoAnn Heilman ’59 Stuart have a soft spot in their hearts for North Central College. After all, they found each other here.
“It was March 11, 1955, after a ‘Guys and Dolls’ performance that JoAnn couldn't perform in because she was sick,” David recalled. “Back then, tradition held that you went to the springhouse if you wanted to ask a girl to marry you. So we walked down to the pond together, knocked on the springhouse door, and hoped no one would answer because only then could the proposal go forward.”
“I’ve never heard of anyone answering that door!” added JoAnn with a chuckle.
After teaching junior high school social studies for two years, David accepted a position as North Central’s first full-time director of alumni relations. Among his duties was serving as editor of the Alumni News. “For us, the position was like coming back home,” he said. “Those six years were wonderful and helped me grow in many ways. I especially liked working with Shirley Latham, who was a critical member of the team.”
“The job turned into a family affair with all of the mailings,” said JoAnn. “We folded and stuffed many an envelope at home. Our girls and my parents even got in the act!”
The position also required David to travel a great deal. He eventually launched a new career selling life insurance so he could spend more time at home with his family.
Today the couple are generous philanthropists, supporting causes such as Lurie Children’s Hospital, Alice Lloyd College (KY) and, of course, North Central. They’ve established a scholarship for four students—one from each class year—and recently made a $25,000 gift to the Dr. Myron Wentz Science Center. The latter gift is recognized with a bench at the building’s southwest entrance.
“We never made a lot of money, but we saved money all our lives,” David said. “Now we’re having fun giving it away.”