Barry McNamara  |  Published October 15, 2020

In memoriam: Dean St. Ledger, 1931-2020

Former supervisor of buildings and grounds topped exclusive list of employees with more than 50 years of service to Monmouth.

MONMOUTH, Ill. – Longtime Monmouth College employee Dean St. Ledger died Oct. 9 at the age of 89.

DEAN ST. LEDGER: With 51 years of service to Monmouth, he topped short list of employees who work... DEAN ST. LEDGER: With 51 years of service to Monmouth, he topped short list of employees who worked at the College more than a half-century.With his wife Nancy’s blessing, a memorial tree will be added to the campus outside of Wells Theater, complete with a bronze plaque. Individuals interested in contributing to the Dean St. Ledger memorial can do so in the following ways:

• In person to the Development House during normal business hours;
• Checks made out to Monmouth College, noting Dean St. Ledger Memorial on the memo line;
• Credit card gifts made online, selecting “other” as designation and noting the Dean St. Ledger Memorial in the comments field.

St. Ledger’s full obituary can be found here.

The following article, titled “MC’s Dean of Employment,” was published in 2011 and celebrated St. Ledger rising to the head of the list of an exclusive club of individuals with a half-century of service to Monmouth:

Dean St. Ledger barely made it through his first week at Monmouth College in 1957. But once he did, he went on to achieve one of the longest careers in the 158-year history of the institution.

“That was the closest I ever came to quitting,” recalled St. Ledger, who was officially honored for a half-century of service in January at the College’s annual employee recognition party. “I was told I was going to be working with heavy equipment, but for that first week, I was inside the dismal, dirty heating plant. I grew up on a farm south of Roseville, and I had always been outdoors. I told them, ‘You’ve got to get me out of there,’ and that’s what they did. By the next week, I was mowing,”

The next week became the next year, the next year became the next decade, and the next decade became the next century. St. Ledger rose through the ranks, moving from custodian to utility man to electrician, a position he held for 17 years.

From 1974 to 1996, St. Ledger managed about 35 campus employees while serving as supervisor/superintendent of building and grounds, a position that had been held by previous bosses such as Gary Carlson and Paul Bunn. He did “quit” at the end of that 22-year management stint, but his retirement was short-lived. St. Ledger returned three years later at the start of the 1999-2000 school year, and he has worked part time in Wells Theater as the scene shop and lighting supervisor ever since.

St. Ledger has regularly performed jobs for area residents, and work that he did on theatre professor Bill Wallace’s home in the late 1990s led to his return. Wallace told him that the College would be hiring someone part-time to help build sets, and St. Ledger said he was interested.

“Dean is unlike anyone I’ve ever worked with. All I have to do is tell him an idea, and he figures out how to do it below budget. Dean is a master at recycling and has saved the College many thousands of dollars.” Doug Rankin

He works four-hour shifts in the afternoons at Wells Theater, helping to construct the sets that theatre professor Doug Rankin designs. Asked how long he might continue in that role, he replied, “It just depends on my health and how I’m feeling.”

To hear Rankin talk, it appears St. Ledger still feels pretty good.

“Dean is unlike anyone I’ve ever worked with,” he said. “All I have to do is tell him an idea, and he figures out how to do it below budget. Dean is a master at recycling and has saved the College many thousands of dollars. He also does the work of two 20-year-olds and can still climb like a monkey. Dean has always been the ideal employee, and it is a joy to work with him and learn from him.”

When one thinks of longevity at Monmouth College, Gracie Peterson often comes to mind. Not only did Gracie work for 50 years at her alma mater, but she also lived to be 104 and famously performed at Galesburg’s Orpheum Theatre on her 100th birthday.

But now that St. Ledger has continued his job into the summer, he is the new face of longevity at a college that was also the longtime professional home for such legendary individuals as Alice Winbigler (50 years), Sam Thompson (46 years) and Bobby Woll (44 years).

Right around Monmouth’s graduation ceremony in May, St. Ledger passed the 51-year mark at the College, longer than anyone else before him. The College’s exclusive 50-year club includes only St. Ledger, Peterson, Winbigler and former librarian Lois Blackstone.

“Leading by example, Dean has always been a soft-spoken, unselfish mentor to all of us who have had the privilege to work with him,” said Director of Personnel Mike McNall. “His lifelong dedication to our institution, especially to our students and their families, is truly appreciated by all. We salute and congratulate Dean for over 50 years of extraordinary service to Monmouth College.”

While some active employees can claim they are veterans of Vietnam or the Gulf War, St. Ledger goes back even further. He enlisted in the National Guard in 1950 and served until 1953, including nine months in Korea.

Asked what he would have done had that first week at Monmouth been his last, St. Ledger replied, “There were four of us boys growing up on the farm, and it wasn’t big enough for all of us. I had received training as an electrician in the Army, so I might have tried to get into that with a company like IBM.”

But instead, St. Ledger stayed at Monmouth, and he said the campus community is the reason why.

“I’ve enjoyed doing it. The big thing is that I’ve enjoyed the people. There’s a real family atmosphere here. I’ve been treated fairly, and the College lets you do your own thing, as long as you’re doing it right.”

Monmouth’s “family” atmosphere has been especially strong for St. Ledger. His wife, Nancy St. Ledger, a 1969 graduate of Monmouth, has been on the College’s staff since 1973 (and remains on staff in 2020 as the academic secretary for the Center for Science and Business). Two of their children, Aileen St. Ledger and Raymond St. Ledger, graduated from the College in 1985.

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