Beloved Eureka College Professor Loren Logsdon Passes Away at Age 84
EUREKA – Eureka College was heartbroken to learn on Thursday of the passing of beloved alumnus and longtime professor Dr. Loren Logsdon at age 84.
Revered for his kindness, generosity and devotion to his students, Dr. Logsdon mentored, challenged, entertained and enlightened countless students in his 54 years as an English professor at Eureka College and Western Illinois University. In addition to being a professor, student and alumnus of Eureka, he was also a coach, a fan, a supporter and a friend to everyone who crossed his path.
“Words cannot express the sadness I feel for Dr. Logsdon’s family and the entire EC community today, as we have lost such an amazing icon and instrumental part of our history and our lives,” Eureka College President Dr. Jamel Santa Cruze Wright. “While we are all heartbroken, at the same time, we are grateful to have had the opportunity to know such a fun-loving and kind spirit, full of integrity, intellect and genuine goodness. He represents the true essence of Eureka College and the best of the human spirit. This College is an amazing place because of the likes of Dr. Loren Logsdon and his legacy will last in perpetuity.”
“At a time of constant turmoil, the passing of Loren Logsdon is especially difficult,” Eureka College’s Special Assistant to the President Mike Murtagh said. “He was a kind man. Beloved by those that knew him, Loren was the consummate educator whose legacy will live in the lives he has touched. His life’s purpose can be seen in the resumes of his students. He was a wonderful man. He was the best of us.”
Born in Versailles, Illinois, on April 26, 1936, Loren Leroy Logsdon first began his 66-year relationship with Eureka College as a student in 1954. In his first stint at Eureka, he was active in theatre, participating in nearly every play, and worked on campus to help pay for his education. He graduated summa cum laude with a degree in English in 1958, and his sister, Alma Parke, followed, graduating from EC in 1959.
Logsdon then earned his Master of Arts degree in English from the University of Illinois in 1960 and returned to EC to teach until 1965, when he headed to Western Illinois University. He spent two years there before becoming a graduate assistant in the Research Institute while earning his Ph.D. in American Literature at Ohio University.
In 1969, Logsdon officially became an instructor at Western Illinois and began a celebrated tenure in which he taught a wide range of undergraduate English classes and graduate seminars. He directed many masters theses, was the fiction editor for The Mississippi Valley Review Magazine and was recognized with The Outstanding Teacher – Arts and Sciences Award in 1982.
In 1991, he retired from Western Illinois but, at the behest of Eureka College President George Hearne, returned to his roots to teach at Eureka again. Over the next 25 years, Logsdon taught many courses at EC, ranging from freshman composition to senior seminar. He was the editor of the Eureka Literary Magazine and later, Impressions.
In 1994, he was honored with the Helen Cleaver Distinguished Teaching Award for his excellence in the classroom, and in 2004, he received the Alumni Award of Merit. He was known for attending as many sporting events, lectures and performances as he possibly could, and was a proud donor of the college. He was also a member of the Ronald Reagan Society and a former member of the alumni board.
In 2010, he and his wife, Mary, established the Loren and Mary Logsdon Endowed Scholarship for students who demonstrate financial need. After several years teaching part-time as a professor emeritus, Logsdon officially retired in 2016, but he remained an active member of the campus community until the end of his storied, influential life.
An unbelievably prolific writer, Logsdon researched, wrote and published several books, including two oral histories of Eureka College, Stories from ‘Neath the Elms: Eureka College 1940-1970 and Stories from ‘Neath the Elms: Eureka College 1970-2014.
He also released multiple books of short stories, including The Moon was Big and Yellow and I was a Little Chicken Myself in 2016 and Going After Sasquatch and Other Eldritch Illusions in 2017, and contributed many stories that were published in Fine Lines, The Woodford County Journal, The Brown County Democrat-Message, and the Versailles Area Genealogical and Historical Society Newsletter.
His work can be found at the Eureka College bookstore and online at heliotropeu.blogspot.com, where he posted nearly 450 stories since 2017, including 69 this year. There, he chronicled the fictional adventures of his creations, Weeder’s Clump, Illinois, and Heliotrope University.
In addition to being a Red Devil fan, Logsdon was an all-around sports fan, a passionate St. Louis Cardinals supporter and an avid fisherman who delighted in reeling in giant carp off the bank.
It’s impossible to measure how much his warm smile and enthusiastic presence will be missed ‘Neath the Elms. We send our condolences to his wife, Mary, his children, Bruce Logsdon, Beth Peterson and Lori Bell, his eight grandchildren, including current EC student Bryce Logsdon, and his many great-grandchildren.