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Former L&C President Remembered for His Contributions to the College

Article by: Laura Inlow,
GODFREY – This week, Lewis and Clark Community College mourns the loss of former President J. Neil Admire.

Admire, of Sanger, Texas, died at the age of 80 in his summer home in Montana, June 4, 2016. He is survived by his wife, Rebecca Guyer Admire; two sons, Parry J. Admire, of Clayton, North Carolina, and Kirk O. Admire, of Clarendon Hills, Illinois; and three granddaughters, Mariah Admire, Sophia Admire and Sydney Admire.

Admire was president of Lewis and Clark from Aug. 1, 1983 until his retirement on June 30, 1992.

L&C Board of Trustees President Robert L. Watson, who worked extensively with Admire during his tenure as president, emphasized Admire’s leadership skills.

“As L&C’s fourth president, Neil Admire brought impressive leadership skills, modern practices and a statewide perspective that greatly advantaged the college,” Watson said. “During his nearly nine-year term as president, the college saw tremendous growth and program expansion. All of us are deeply saddened by the news of his passing.”

Originally born in Gillespie, Illinois, Admire was the first in his family to attend college. He received a bachelor’s degree in physical education and social sciences from Eastern Illinois University (1958), where he also lettered in two sports and set the Illinois state javelin record. Admire went on to earn a master’s degree in education from the University of Illinois (1964), a specialist degree in education from EIU (1971), and a doctorate in education from Loyola University of Chicago (1978).

Over the course of his professional career, he served as a teacher, principal and superintendent in the Illinois public school system, then as the vice president of administration and assistant to the president at Lake Land Community College in Mattoon (1972-1983) before coming to L&C. After L&C, he served as chancellor of Southeast Community College in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Admire served as President and CEO of the Illinois Community College System Foundation, raising funds for 40 colleges to provide student scholarships and other academic funding, and was president of the Illinois Council of Public Community College Presidents near the end of his tenure at L&C. Also during his tenure, in 1989, the college received a $1 million donation from the Spencer T. and Ann W. Olin Foundation for the college's Hatheway Cultural Center in Godfrey.

He served on numerous boards throughout his career, including a stint as a director of the board of Landmark Bank in Alton, and a member of the board of St. Anthony’s Hospital, now OSF St. Anthony’s. Admire was also involved with the local chapter of the American Cancer Society, Alton Youth Symphony Orchestra and Alton Civic Orchestra.

Upon his retirement from L&C, then-Illinois Governor Jim Edgar declared Dr. J. Neil Admire Day. Later, the governor in Nebraska would name him an admiral in the Navy of the Great State of Nebraska.

L&C’s current president, Dale T. Chapman, worked extensively with President Admire as the college’s vice president of administration.

“Dr. Admire set high aspirations for the college, and provided the kind of professional leadership that advantaged us for decades to follow,” Chapman said.

Services for Admire will take place from 4-6 p.m. Monday, June 13 at Kravanya Funeral Home, Gillespie. For more information, visit