Barry McNamara  |  Published February 15, 2023

Campaign Gift Honors Parents

Daughters of 1939 classmates Bernie and Rosemary Bolon fund a scholarship for Monmouth students.

MONMOUTH, Ill. – In the heyday of the Monmouth College Octopus Club – and when the legendary Bobby Woll was just a rookie head coach for the Fighting Scots – Bernie Bolon was a big man on campus. Bolon and his future wife, 1939 classmate Rosemary Field, were a popular couple.

MAY KING AND QUEEN: 1939 Monmouth classmates Bernie Bolon and Rosemary Field, as they were pictur... MAY KING AND QUEEN: 1939 Monmouth classmates Bernie Bolon and Rosemary Field, as they were pictured in the 1940 Ravelings yearbook.“One of my favorite pictures of the two of them at Monmouth is when they were voted by their classmates the May Queen and King,” said Barbara Bolon Bye ’64. “There’s a picture of them sitting on their thrones, and Mother is wearing a crown of flowers. It’s tipping on her head – it’s all cattywampus.”

Barbara and Patricia Bolon Elmone ’77 followed their parents to Monmouth. They recently made a gift in their honor as part of the College’s Light This Candle Campaign.

The Bernard Dean and Rosemary Field Bolon Scholarship will provide perpetual financial assistance for select students each year, with preference given to incoming freshmen Monmouth who participate in co-curricular activities.

“I’m really thrilled that Patty approached me with this idea,” said Barbara, who lives in Waukesha, Wisconsin. “It’s a wonderful, wonderful idea. The two of us felt strongly enough about our parents’ experiences at Monmouth that we went there also.”

“We’re both retired, and we began really looking at the legacy we wanted to leave,” said Pat, who winters in Florida not far from her sister. “We wanted to do something to honor our parents. We’re both very proud of them, and we loved them very much. Monmouth College is where they fell in love, and we both loved our time at Monmouth, too.”

“We wanted to do something to honor our parents. We’re both very proud of them, and we loved them very much. Monmouth College is where they fell in love, and we both loved our time at Monmouth, too.” Patricia Bolon Elmone

The sisters both commented on the ease of making the gift, citing the “extraordinary” help they received.

“It all fell into place seamlessly,” said Pat. “We were able to fund the scholarship through gifts of cash and stock contributions, and now that the scholarship is fully endowed, we’re looking forward to seeing it being awarded.”

A Monmouth champion

Before embarking on a career in insurance and finance, Bernie was a two-time All-Midwest Conference basketball player and a member of the 1937-38 squad was undefeated in the league.

“The most characteristic work of Bernie was to take the ball from his own back court and dribble circles and figure eights around the opposing defense,” read the Ravelings yearbook from his senior year.

Bernie was a member of Alpha Tau Omega and the College’s prestigious Octopus Club, while Rosemary joined Kappa Kappa Gamma. She went on to become a teacher, and one of her classrooms was in Monmouth’s Harding Elementary School. She also taught in nearby Alexis.

Following their parents’ lead

Bernie and Rosemary lived much of their married life in Monmouth, and Bernie continued his athletic success, starring as a fastpitch softball hurler at Monmouth Park, where a young Barbara was a frequent spectator. However, there was a brief period when Bernie’s insurance job took the family to Princeton, Illinois. It coincided with Barbara’s final two years of high school, and then the Bolons returned to the Maple City.

“I didn’t even have to think twice about where I was going to go to college,” said Barbara. “The move back to Monmouth just cemented it.”

Her younger sister toyed with the idea of a different school, but in the end, Monmouth won out for her, too.

“I’d also been accepted at the University of Illinois, but I didn’t want to get lost in the shuffle there, and I wasn’t quite ready to start spreading my wings,” said Pat.

That actually happened, somewhat literally, when she embarked on a long career as a flight attendant for TWA shortly after graduating with a degree in education.

Barbara had the opportunity to spread her wings as a Monmouth student, heading to the nation’s capital as part of the College’s Washington Semester program. One of her classmates and Kappa Kappa Gamma sisters, future Board of Trustees member Sandra Epperson Wolf ’64, was also there.

“I was very, very fortunate to be part of the Washington Semester program,” said Barbara, an English major who minored in history and government and who worked summers in several different College offices. “Sandra and I both got jobs in senators’ offices. I worked in the office of Indiana Sen. Birch Bayh. It really had a big influence on me, and I remain very interested in government and politics today.”

Like her mother, Barbara became a teacher, and the second portion of her career in education focused on special ed. In between, she followed her father’s path, working for seven years for State Farm.

“Thanks, Mom and Dad, for instilling in us the importance of education and learning.” Patricia Bolon Elmone

Meanwhile, Pat was “Up, up and away with TWA,” and she also continued her education in the early 1990s at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

“Upon completing the M.Ed. program, I was invited to join the Phi Kappa Phi honor society,” she said. “Thanks, Mom and Dad, for instilling in us the importance of education and learning.”

TWA took her all around the country, but she still holds a special place in her heart for her hometown.

“I love Monmouth, and I come home a lot,” said Pat, who has a house in Oquawka, Illinois, on the Mississippi River.

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