Gordon Petry

Profile Updated: April 28, 2010
Residing In: Pekin, IL USA
Spouse/Partner: Patricia
Occupation: Teacher/Musician/Writer
Children: Michael Petry, born 1967, lives in Chicago, two blocks from Wrigley Field

Kristen Conroy, born More…1969, lives in Naperville, 3 kids-Madison, Kyra and Braden (all soccer players and swimmers) Yes, Kris is the consumate soccer mom.

Megan Larson, born 1969, lives in Lake Zurich

Amy Walser, born 1971 lives in Waterloo, Iowa, 2 kids-Rebecca (a dancer) and Sam (a Lego engineer)

All four kids went to Illinois State and graduated in four years. (Thank goodness--do the math--we had three in college for four consecutive years) All four of our children taught in Illinois public schools. Meg is the only one still teaching.

After graduating from Schurz, I was going to room with Ed Rice at Northern. He wound up at the U of I, and I went to ISU (or ISNU as it was back then) and roomed with Dick Hanus.

I never thought about being a teacher, but I got a teacher scholarship, which paid for almost everything except room and board. The catch was you had to teach for a year or three, or else you had to repay the money. Hey, I can do anything for a while. Forty-six years later, I'm still teaching. Besides teaching English (grammar,writing and literature) in public schools, 7th grade though 12th grade, I also taught creative writing and etymology and coached tennis for 20 seasons.

I've given tennis lessons, private, YWCA, park district, Illinois Central College. I've taught piano lessons, guitar lessons, a little voice and some musical composition. I'm a choir director/accompanist for one church and song leader/ assistant organist for another.

I've taught tennis in a church parking lot for the Y. I've taught short story, poetry and play writing in the Pekin Federal Prison on a NEA grant. (I probably am one of the few who was sorry to leave.)

My youngest student was four and my oldest was 84?
In addition to 32 years of junior high/ high school teaching, I taught English for Illinois Central College for seven years and at Bradley University for 15 and counting.

I'm beginning to think I like teaching. I hope all that fulfills the scholarship requirements, so I don't have to repay the money.

My wife Pat and I went on a European vacation, a gift from my son Mike. Another year we went to England the same time as Mike and his wife. With some friends we took an Alaska cruise one year and visited Ireland the next. (Some wonderful deals on line--And yes, I kissed the Blarney stone). My wife and I took a tour of Italy last year. Venice was our favorite.

I wrote a tennis column for a newspaper for two years. I've had a few stories published and just this year, two of my plays were produced.

My wife and kids gave me a wonderful birthday present last year. I got to spend some time with the penguins at Brookfield Zoo, not swimming, but feeding and petting. FUN!

Finally, (and not a minute too soon, I can hear you out there) I met my wife at Illinois State in, of all places, an English class. She wouldn't go out with me at first because I had a full (well, scruffy at least) beard grown for my part in Brigadoon. We were married two weeks after graduation (out of one institution and into another).

She also taught in the Illinois Public schools, first, Momence and then Pekin. She just retired from working as manager of a photography studio. I call her my trophy wife because she is three months younger than me. She has put up with me through thick and thin, and yes, I'm talking about my waistline and hairline, respectively.

I'm looking forward to seeing all of you and renewing some old friendships.

School Story:

1st person I met --Bob Bell, That insured that my four years at Schurz would be fun

Amy Stodola--I still know how to diagram a sentence (and still hate it)

Miss Falkenroth--What a gentle soul. She'd ask, "What's the square root of four?" and get a answer like "Seven?"
And no matter how bad your answer was she'd gently say, "I don't think so." If Bob Bell makes it to the reunion, ask him for his "spot on" imitation.

Uncle Charley--I was in his physics class when the snowball fight broke out, and he didn't notice. I did learn about pyrex in that class, after breaking a non-pyrex vase with too much heat.

Miss Wincher--rascals would write at the top of her blackboard "Miss Wincher can't reach this," and she couldn't.

Mr. Mcarthy's history class. On the oral quizzes, true was a step forward and false was a step back. He had to know. It sounded like a parade.

Mr. Mietke changing shirts between classes (and pretending to be afraid of Tod Engel--Angel of Death translated from German.)

The biology teacher who describing the size of some worm, gave the class the finger (for quite a while).

John Schwartz--the most outstanding athletic achievement--On the first day of our naked swimming classes (another story for another time), we jumped in the shallow end and swam to the deep end to prove we could swim. John jumped in and then leapt completely free of the water yelling "I can't swim." I've never seen anything like it.

Speaking of PE, I remember holding on to my pants when running to and from the ball diamond. A lot of "pantsing" went on as we ran past the classroom windows.

Don Swanson and I decided to go out for tennis our freshman year. We were too shy to go out as an individual. Neither of us had ever played. Only six people went out for the team. We made the varsity. Our opponents were astonished at how bad we were. But I did earn a varsity letter, my senior year, which I received two days before graduation.

Bud Eldvedt--first of my friends to own a car, and we packed it to go to school on cold days.

Poster parties-enough said.

Miss Minnis--who fell in love with everything I wrote that last semester and read my papers to all of her classes. Thank you. You deserve all the credit (or blame) for me becoming an English teacher.

Last memory--being a human sardine in the third floor hallway right where it intersected the triangle. Talk about up close and personal! And we only had four minutes to get to the next class.

Gordon's Latest Interactions

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Gordon Petry posted a message.
Mar 02, 2015 at 6:47 PM

Dear Bud,
Here's hoping you had a wonderful birthday today. Since I'm sending you this message a bit late (forgot my Schurz password, then found it) , I hope that tomorrow and the next day is etc.etc into infinity are also wonderful. There was some talk about another reunion, but I don't know if it's going to happen. Seeing you and Rich brought back the most memories for me. My wife reads the obits and comments on how many are younger than us--that works for me.
Hope to see you again some time soon,
Best Wishes,
Gordon or Gordie

Gordon Petry added a comment on Profile.
Jan 22, 2015 at 8:23 PM
Gordon Petry posted a message.
Nov 29, 2014 at 11:18 AM

I hope you have a well deserved happy birthday and another wonderful year to follow.
I don't know about you, but I don't feel any older (maybe a little slower, but not older).
Best wishes always and a huge thank you for the 50th anniversary reunion and this wonderful website to keep track of everybody.

Gordon Petry posted a message.
Nov 28, 2014 at 10:24 AM

What an inspiring story, Jill. I hope you have a wonderful birthday and a great year. There's a possibility of another reunion this summer, something more low key like a picnic. I hope it comes to be and I'll see you there.
Best wishes always,

Gordon Petry posted a message.
Nov 21, 2014 at 11:38 AM

Happy Birthday, Pat
What a wonderful fulfilling life for someone who certainly deserves it. I wish you the best for many more years.

Gordon Petry posted a message.
Nov 15, 2014 at 4:00 PM

I wish I had known. We could have bought out trees from you. I think we got ours at Riverview. (Talk about the good old days) How cool to have a brother who taught at Schurz.
Thanks for sharing and bringing back some memories

Gordon Petry posted a message on Judith Weber's Profile.
Nov 15, 2014 at 3:56 PM

Here's hoping for a happy birthday celebration for you that will last the whole year.
Best wishes for health and happiness.

Gordon Petry added a comment on Profile.
Nov 12, 2014 at 10:54 AM
Gordon Petry posted a message.
Oct 16, 2014 at 1:25 PM

What a life, sailing where you want to go. I've only sailed twice, once on a catamaran (sp?) where we had to hold onto a rope and lean way over the side. My stomach was sore afterwards, but what fun. The second time was about a month later on a rowboat with a sail, much tamer, but I used what I had learned about tacking to sail back up wind.
Best wishes for a very happy birthday.
I met a teacher I used to teach with and she said the best thing about retirement is you don't have to do anything you don't want to. If it's not fun, don't do it.
It seems to me that you are living that credo, and you have earned the right to.
Have a happy birthday and much smooth sailing for many more years.
Best Wishes,

Gordon Petry posted a message.
Oct 14, 2014 at 1:56 PM

Dear Holly,
Here' s hoping you have a great day (and another 365 or them until your next birthday).
It's been fun catching up with friends from over 50 years ago. When I see what many of us have accomplished, I'm filled with two emotions, pride and astonishment. I'm also gratified that so many of us are still around and active. I really enjoyed my four years at Schurz, but I don't really think I appreciated what we had until now.
I'll stop before I become all maudlin. We don't need maudlin when we're celebrating a birthday. Many happy returns. I hope that we another reunion soon, not necessarily such a formal occasion, but just old friends reuniting and reminiscing.
The best to you always,

Gordon Petry posted a message.
Oct 11, 2014 at 3:26 PM

I got your message about the "Woodie" tournament, and I thought it was close to your birthday. So, Happy Birthday and best wishes for another great year. I hope the tournament is your most successful one yet! I did get to play a little tennis this summer. The emphasis is on the little. I have double vision, and I really did a fine job hitting the alternate ball, the real one not so good. But it was fun. I suspect it's a lot like golf where you forget all the bad shots and remember pitching onto the green and into the hole. (I've heard that is very fulfilling. I'll take their word for it.)
I remember when I was involved in tennis, running tournaments, etc. that there was an older man who was very good. When he was in his seventies, (imagine anyone being that old!) he started playing on a seniors tour. He did die on the tennis court, and I remember all of us saying that was the way we wanted to go.
But, that doesn't mean it wouldn't be better to keep on going without any interruptions to our fun.
So many fond memories, Todd. Ed Rice's band. There was a wedding reception where we kept playing "Peter Gunn" and this frail looking older guy (probably More…in his 30's came up and wanted us to play "The Blue Skirt Waltz." We had it in a fake book, not difficult at all, but we all wimped out. I feel guilty because I could have played it as a piano solo or possibly you could have played it on the trumpet, and I could have accompanied you.
I hope some year I"ll be down there to wish you a happy birthday in person and maybe even win a game or two in your tournament.
Best wishes,

Gordon Petry posted a message.
Oct 03, 2014 at 11:18 AM

Happy Birthday, Judy,
You were one of the first persons who was my age that I knew back on George street. Barry School, Schurz, you were there. I'm glad to know that you did so well.
Best wishes for many more healthy, happy years,

Gordon Petry posted a message.
Sep 05, 2014 at 2:05 PM

Congratulations on your upcoming birthday. I hope it and the rest of the year will be wonderful. It's always gratifying to see the achievements of our class and you are a fine example. It makes me proud to be part of the class of '60.
Best wishes always,

Gordon Petry posted a message.
Jul 31, 2014 at 11:50 AM

Here's hoping you have a great birthday and an even better one next year. It was nice seeing you at the reunion. I hope we can have another-- 55th?
Have a great year,

Gordon Petry posted a message.
Jul 31, 2014 at 11:48 AM

Dear Diane,
Happy Birthday! I hope you have a great day and even better year. It was fun seeing you at the reunion ( and inspiring that you still fit into your Schurz sweater.)
Best wishes,

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Posted: Dec 17, 2013 at 12:53 AM