Barry McNamara  |   Published November 28, 2022

Donor Profile: The Harmons

John and Nancy Crotzer Harmon Fund will benefit Monmouth’s TARTANS program.

THE HARMONS: The John and Nancy Crotzer Harmon Fund will support educational studies at Monmouth ... THE HARMONS: The John and Nancy Crotzer Harmon Fund will support educational studies at Monmouth College -- specifically, the school's TARTANS program.MONMOUTH, Ill. – A 1968 Monmouth College alumnus who began his career as a teacher has made a gift to his alma mater – and that of his late wife, who was a lifelong teacher – to establish the John and Nancy Crotzer Harmon Fund.

Through a blended gift – cash now and a planned gift in the future – the fund will benefit the College’s educational studies department and, specifically, its TARTANS program (Teachers Allied with Rural Towns and Neighborhood Schools).

The couple had been married 51 years when Nancy died in 2021.

“With Nancy dying, my financial adviser suggested that I start distributing some of our money now,” said John Harmon of Schaumburg, Illinois.

One of his first moves was to “kick up my contribution to the church.” But he also realized he and Nancy had not donated much over the years to Monmouth, so when he ultimately made a gift to the College, he wanted it to be a significant contribution “to catch up.”

Supporting educational studies

Designating the educational studies department was an easy choice for Harmon.

“Nancy was a very highly regarded teacher,” said Harmon. “In 1972, she was named the outstanding educator for our area.”

Her peers and local administrators recognized her talent, and the children in her school loved her.

“Her kids would ask for a hug at the end of the day. It started out with just a few kids, but then kids who weren’t even in her class were lining up for a hug. Eventually, it started throwing off the bus schedules, because some of the kids were still waiting in line after school for their hug.” John Harmon

“Her kids would ask for a hug at the end of the day,” said Harmon. “It started out with just a few kids, but then kids who weren’t even in her class were lining up for a hug. Eventually, it started throwing off the bus schedules, because some of the kids were still waiting in line after school for their hug.”

Harmon is also pleased that the gift will support students planning to teach at rural schools.

“At a rural school, you have access to people who have known you their entire life,” he said. “Up here (in the suburbs), that type of relationship is not possible. Also, in a rural district, teachers have more input into what their curriculum is going to be. They get to build it.”

Both in Schaumburg, as luck would have it

John and Nancy met at Monmouth and were ’68 classmates – “she dated a fraternity brother of mine for a while,” said Harmon – but he and Nancy didn’t begin dating each other until both were placed as teachers in Schaumburg for their first jobs.

Nancy remained in the profession as a fourth grade teacher, while John soon switched gears, entering the up-and-coming world of computer science. After starting out at Sears, he spent much of his career with Kemper Insurance doing network architecture.

During their time at Monmouth, the Harmons crossed paths with several campus “legends.”

“Nancy really enjoyed Gracie Peterson and Jean Liedman,” said Harmon. “She really interacted with the legends of Monmouth at the time, as well as with her classmates.”

Harmon was a member of the track team, which another College legend, Bobby Woll, served as an assistant coach.

“My dad had gone to McKendree College in the late 1930s, and he was an outstanding javelin thrower,” said Harmon. “Coach Woll saw my last name and asked if I was related. He had seen my dad compete, and he told me my dad was the best javelin thrower he ever saw.”

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