GODFREY – The last remaining charter member of the Lewis and Clark Community College Board of Trustees, Dr. Albert Van Walleghen, 91, died Sunday, Jan. 15, 2017, in Jerseyville.
Dr. Van Walleghen established the Jersey Calhoun Veterinary Hospital in Jerseyville in 1948 and worked as a veterinarian for nearly 40 years. In addition to serving on L&C’s Board of Trustees for 10 years, until his retirement in September 1979, he also served on the Jersey County Board from 1986-1992, as well as the St. Francis Xavier Church Board, the Illinois Veterinary Medical Association and the Jerseyville Housing Board.
The Lewis and Clark Community College District No. 536 was founded in 1970. Other charter members of the Board of Trustees included R. Ned Bond, Madison County; Paul L. Connolly, Madison County; Paul B. Hanks, Calhoun County; Robert S. Minsker, Madison County; Paul N. Odell, Macoupin County; and Chris J. Ringhausen, Jersey County.
The first Board was responsible for purchasing Monticello College in Godfrey to serve as the new community college’s campus.
“A lot of what the initial Board did involved trying to get funding,” said his son, Dr. Don Van Walleghen. “The junior college concept was not favored by the larger schools, and a lot of the people working in government at the time had attended those larger schools.”
The members saw securing the Monticello campus as one of their biggest accomplishments, according to Van Walleghen’s daughter Gail Naughton, but they were also instrumental in figuring out staffing and getting academic and training programs off the ground.
“He loved an intellectual challenge, and being a part of the Board allowed him to interact with people of his caliber,” Naughton said. “It was a really stimulating thing for him.”
In 1970, L&C began with eight associate degree and certificate programs, and the student headcount that year was around 400 students (449 FTE). Both rose sharply over the first few years; today, the college serves approximately 15,000 credit and non-credit students and offers more than 40 degree programs.
Current Chairman Robert L. Watson served on the Board of Trustees with Dr. Van Walleghen in the early days.
“I had a great deal of respect for Dr. Van Walleghen's judgment and early guidance on the direction of Lewis and Clark,” Watson said. “I think all of the original members of the Board would take pride in how well the college has served the district over the years since its formation.”
“Without the hard work and dedication of the charter members of the Lewis and Clark Board of Trustees, we would not be where we are today,” said L&C President Dale Chapman. “On behalf of the college, we wish to extend our deepest gratitude to these men, and our sympathy to Dr. Van Walleghen’s family.”
Dr. Van Walleghen served as a meat inspector during the war while continuing his studies, and completed his doctorate of veterinary medicine from Kansas State University at the age of 21. He worked at a veterinary pharmaceutical company before starting his veterinary practice in 1948 in Jerseyville. He worked there until his retirement in 1987, after which his son, Don, took over the practice.
“He was just a very intelligent, very socially adept person,” Dr. Don Van Walleghen said. “He could really communicate well and was very self confident.”
“He was a happy person, but he endured a lot,” Naughton said. “He was widowed twice and had a whole house full of kids, who were his greatest pride. He juggled a lot of things, but he did it with grace.”