INA, Ill. (Oct. 26, 2020) — Two longtime Rend Lake College Foundation Board Directors have joined a select group of individuals holding Emeritus status.
Dr. Bill Roe and Rich Yunkus achieved the honor earlier this month at the RLCF Board of Directors meeting. The pair have a combined 50 years of experience serving on the board and have helped oversee some of the Foundation’s largest accomplishments. For all their outstanding service, they have been granted the Emeritus designation.
The pair joins Sam Mateer as Emeritus members. Mark S. Kern, Mille Caldwell and George Slankard also achieved Emeritus status before each passed away.
Dr. Bill Roe: Pinckneyville’s Promoter
Geography was a factor in limiting RLC’s reach to the city of Pinckneyville, but Dr. Bill Roe was a strong supporter of bridging that gap. His support for the students and satellite campus in town are what he looks back on as two top achievements.
“The two things I got a big kick out of and can be proud of were helping establish scholarships for Pinckneyville students,” Roe said. “And the other thing was helping establish the Pinckneyville campus.”
Roe said when he first joined the RLCF board in August 1998, there were very few scholarships that catered to students from Pinckneyville compared to other towns in RLC’s district. He and his wife Mary helped change that by setting up an endowment for Pinckneyville-area students. He also saw the challenges students in the area faced when making the 40-minute trip to the Ina campus. Roe was instrumental in acquiring the RLC Murphy-Wall Pinckneyville Campus, which opened in 2002. The satellite campus allows students to achieve their college goals without facing a long commute.
“Dr. Roe has been such a tremendous asset to the Rend Lake College Foundation and an inspiration to me personally,” said RLCF Board Chairman Robert Bornheimer. “He has been a passionate supporter of Rend Lake College and the Pinckneyville community. He was instrumental in the establishment of the Murphy-Wall Campus and also the expansion of that facility. Dr. Roe was a leader and provided an example for the rest of the board members to serve by.”
For his service on the board, Roe earned the RLC Foundation’s Presidential Award in 2003. He and his wife Mary are also recipients of the RLCF Gold Seal donor award. Roe has served as a Sunday school teacher and as a member of the Pinckneyville Chamber of Commerce, Murphy-Wall State Bank Board and Pinckneyville Hospital Board. He and his wife were named Pinckneyville Co-Citizens of the Year in 2005 and honored during the Halloween parade. Dr. Charles “Bill” Roe was recognized in 2009 as a Southern Business Journal “Leaders Among Us.” The longtime dentist earned his degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry following his service in the U.S. Army.
Roe said he still plans on being active with Pinckneyville’s advocacy group that meets with the college. But stepping away from an active role in the board will not be too difficult because it is in good hands, he said. Dr. James Wittenauer and Randall Dauby will step in as new board members. Roe emphasized any individual accomplishments of his were part of a larger team effort and new board members should help keep that momentum going.
“It’s gratifying to see two people who will take a strong interest and be advocates for the school,” he said. “It makes it very easy to step away. When you leave something and it’s such a strong entity as the Foundation is, it makes it very easy.”
Rich Yunkus: The Money Manager
When Rich Yunkus joined the RLC Foundation Board of Directors in February 1993, the organization only had $70,000 in its checking account. That’s a far cry from the more than $5.9 million the Foundation has currently in endowments. And Yunkus helped grow the Foundation into what it is today.
After securing some grants and seeking advice from a consulting firm, the Foundation started securing more funding.
“They basically taught us how to fundraise,” Yunkus said. “It just seemed like it started to take off from there.”
Yunkus has a large presence that has followed him throughout his career. The man known as the “Benton Bomber” was an All-American basketball player for Georgie Tech and still holds the college’s career scoring record. Afterward, he transitioned his career into financial services and worked for Edward Jones. His talents as a money manager transitioned into his role on the RLCF board. After some convincing from his fellow board members, Yunkus took the reins making investments for the Foundation to help grow its portfolio. The solid financial groundwork helped keep student scholarships stable, even through uncertain times like the Great Recession from 2007-2009.
“We never missed a scholarship. We paid every one,” he said.
“Rich Yunkus has done a masterful job in maintaining the investment accounts for the RLCF through upturns and downturns in the markets and economies,” Bornheimer said. “Because of Rich's expertise, the RLCF has always had the funds to meet our obligations and take on many other projects on the Rend Lake College campus. Rich leaves the foundation in excellent condition.”
Yunkus emphasized that raising the money isn’t the accomplishment. It’s putting it to use. And the Foundation has never strayed from its goal of helping RLC and its students.
“The money raised is secondary to what we do with it. We don’t sit on it,” he said. “We use it for the benefit of the college. We’re constantly looking at how we can help. For little old Southern Illinois, I think it’s remarkable what we’ve been able to do.”
For all his work on the RLCF board, Yunkus has been the recipient of the Foundation’s Presidential Award twice in 2000 and 2015. In 2013 he was honored for 20 years of service on the Foundation board and he and his wife Donna have also received the Silver Seal donor award. He was a major contributor to the “Generations of Excellence” Capital Campaign and the RLCF Children’s Center. And he was active in the Institute for Learning in Retirement (ILR) as a teacher. Outside of RLC, he was a member of the Benton Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Club and Elks Club.
Yunkus said he still plans on being active on the RLCF finance committee, where he can share 27 years of experience and wisdom as needed. He said the Foundation’s work has always been a team effort with every board member performing a necessary role. And that’s the advice he had to pass on to new members Wittenauer and Dauby.
“I think the best thing you can do at first is be a good listener,” he said. “Learn your role and how you can help.”