Barbara Wildemuth ’71 and Gaylen Brubaker ’72 met almost 50 years ago at North Central’s music camp. After decades of marriage, they chuckle at the paths they’ve traveled since graduation. As Wildemuth puts it: “Gaylen took a straight line, and I took a zigzag.”
The couple married shortly after Commencement, then moved to Urbana-Champaign so Brubaker could pursue a Ph.D. in chemistry at the University of Illinois. For 30 years Brubaker has managed groundwater cleanup at hazardous waste sites and is now in “semiretirement transition” with the engineering consulting firm GEI Consultants.
Wildemuth’s “zigzag” began when, equipped with her music education degree, the pair arrived in Urbana-Champaign and discovered the public schools had cut music programs. “I decided I might as well get a graduate degree. I was especially grateful for my friendship with [music history and theory professor] Ann McKinley. Women professors were unusual back then and we developed a close connection. She inspired me when I was considering graduate work.”
Wildemuth pursued information and library science and recently retired as a professor in that field from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
College faculty also shaped Brubaker’s life in profound ways. “Russell Poel was my advisor and organic chemistry professor. He was also my mentor in the broadest sense—not just for chemistry but for living a life.”
The couple are generous supporters of the North Central College Fund, fine arts, and chemistry and music departments. When they toured the Dr. Myron Wentz Science Center this summer “we were blown away,” recalls Brubaker.
“We’ve included the College in our will for a long time, but we also want to see some of the benefits while we’re still alive!”
The couple established a $100,000 trust in support of the College’s Brilliant Future Campaign, dividing the gift between the Science Center and the Oesterle Library. “We’ve included the College in our will for a long time,” explains Brubaker, “but we also want to see some of the benefits while we’re still alive!
“I was one of the first lab assistants in Kroehler—the ‘new’ science center at the time. I spent a summer moving glassware and other equipment into the building. In June, we saw people doing just what I did—into the new Science Center!”
“We lived in Student Village when we were dating, so we were sad that it had to be torn down,” adds Wildemuth. “But wow! It was for a great cause.”
To learn how your planned gift can support the Brilliant Future Campaign, please contact North Central College’s director of planned giving Brandon Hoeft ’02/M ’06 at 630-637-5205 or firstname.lastname@example.org.