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DC Spriesterbach


One of the longest-serving, best loved professors and administrators, D.C. Spriesterbach just died at the age of 94. You can check his University Bio, or the PC article for the details.

I remember Dean Spriesterbach from my first job after graduation, working in Alumni Records updating address records on a monstrous old IBM terminal. It was a hideous job, but it had one perk: we shared offices with the U of I Foundation, so a steady stream of University bigwigs would visit regularly. It’s where I briefly met presidents Willard ‘Sandy’ Boyd, and James O. Friedman.

Spriesterbach was a frequent visitor, because he had business with the Moneybags of the Foundation. But one of the women at the Alumni Association had worked in his office, so he always moseyed over to our side of the building to shoot the breeze and have a cup of coffee.

Two things stood out about the guy: one, that he was one of the nicest people you’d ever meet, someone whose natural expression was a relaxed, friendly smile, who always seemed to have all the time in the world to talk to just about anyone. The other is that he was a bald man who wore an obvious toupee. At this time, in the early 80s, his real hair had grayed faster than his rug, giving his coiffure a jaunty two-tone look.

Now, the poor guy just died and I’m making fun of his unconvincing hairpiece, but if you ever met Spriesterbach (or ‘Spree’ as the secretaries called him) he wasn’t one of those guys who was insecure about his baldness. He didn’t seem to care who knew he sported a little help up top; it was just comfortable to him, like a hat.

With his perpetual smile and down-to-earth good humor, it was easy to forget how important he really was to the University. His love of the institution ran deep, and he smiled, joked, and small-talked his way to raising a billion dollars for the University. My own love for the University — where I went to college, and where I now work — comes from seeing the place through the eyes of people like Spree. He was one of the good guys, and the University could use a dozen more of him.


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