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Where Are They Now?

Page Hooped It Up Here before Joining JALC Staff

Longtime JALC maintenance worker, Larry Page (middle), is quick with a smile and has a knack for lightening the mood when he’s around. Here, he poses with Vice Presidents Brad McCormick and Tim Daugherty. (Logan Media Services photo)

Longtime JALC maintenance worker, Larry Page (middle), is quick with a smile and has a knack for lightening the mood when he’s around. Here, he poses with Vice Presidents Brad McCormick and Tim Daugherty. (Logan Media Services photo)

Editor’s Note: This is the third in a series of features of former John A. Logan College athletes, who chose to make their home here in Southern Illinois after completing their education.

BY JOHN D. HOMAN
Logan Media Services

CARTERVILLE – Larry Page is an iconic figure at John A. Logan College. For 28 years, he has served as maintenance worker and unofficial good will ambassador. Some, on the other hand, might prefer the term, “clown prince.”

Just about anyone who has spent any time on campus is bound to have come in contact with this former Logan basketball player whose imposing figure (he stands 6-foot, 6) is negated by his infectious smile and outgoing personality.

Page, who hails from East St. Louis, is that rare commodity who can turn one’s worst day at work into a good one. Some people simply have a knack for making others around them smile and feel comfortable. Page is one so blessed. Ask him how he’s doing and he will say, “Terrible.” But in actuality, he’s the opposite.

“I’ve just always believed in staying positive about life,” said Page who is quick with an embarrassing bear hug befitting of a man his size. “Hugs are my way of cheering people up and making them smile.”

Larry Page as a member of the JALC men’s basketball team in 1984 coached by Tom Ashman. Page played either the forward or center position for the Vols. (JALC file photo)

Larry Page as a member of the JALC men’s basketball team in 1984 coached by Tom Ashman. Page played either the forward or center position for the Vols. (JALC file photo)

And nobody, not even the president himself, Dr. Mike Dreith, is immune from a Page greeting. In fact, Dreith, who has endured some lengthy hugs, said he was walking to the health complex one day and was nearly scared out of his wits by Page who approached from behind in a campus vehicle with horn blaring at the last minute.

What Page has figured out is that life is too short to dwell on the negative. He believes that a positive attitude will result in better production at work and that a jovial spirit will result in a less complicated life.

“If I’ve ever needed anything at work, I get ahold of Larry because I know he will handle it,” said Tracy Elliott, athletic department secretary, who is one of the few JALC employees who has worked as many years as Page. “He not only knows how to do things, but he does them with a smile. He has a great personality. He has been such a big help to us over the years, especially on ballgame nights.”

Dwight Hoffard, Director of Buildings and Grounds at JALC, has served as Page’s supervisor since the mid-1980s.

“Larry was a student worker here and then hired full-time not long before I came to Logan,” Hoffard said. “He’s always been a good, reliable employee who can do just about anything – a jack-of-all trades if you will. From pickup and delivery to repair work and cleaning, he’s done it all here at the college. Add in the fact that Larry is friendly and has good people skills and it’s obvious that he’s a real asset to us.”

Born in France to Albert and Flossie, the Page family moved to the United States when Larry was a young child. The family first settled in Oklahoma, later moved to Texas and eventually East St. Louis. Page graduated Senior High School in 1982 and was recruited to play basketball at Southeast Missouri State University at Cape Girardeau.

For personal reasons, Page withdrew from SEMO after his freshman year and was eventually approached by then-JALC men’s coach, Tom Ashman, about playing for the Vols. Page accepted. It turned out to be one of the best decisions of his life.

Here, Page applies some shoulder pressure to JALC aquatics director Chris Georgantas prior to Saturday’s ALS walk on campus. (Photo by Jon LeBlond)

Here, Page applies some shoulder pressure to JALC aquatics director Chris Georgantas prior to Saturday’s ALS walk on campus. (Photo by Jon LeBlond)

“Coach Ashman gave me the opportunity to play. I played forward and sometimes center for the team (1984). We weren’t real good that year and finished around the .500 mark, but I really enjoyed my time here as a player,” Page said. “In those days, we rode in vans to the games and we had a couple of beat up Dodges the best I can remember.”

Page continued his basketball career for a while at a small four-year school out in Kansas after his sophomore year at Logan, but never felt comfortable there.

“So, I came back to Southern Illinois and was fortunate enough to get a job offered to me. I’ve been here ever since,” he said.

Ashman, who was tipped off about Page’s availability by then-SEMO coach Ron Schumate, said he may never have coached a more friendly player at Logan.

“Probably not,” he said. “It was a pleasure to coach Larry. He had such a positive attitude that carried over to the rest of the team. I was glad to make the recommendation that we hire him when he gave up basketball. And I guess it was a pretty good hire as he’s still here.”

Page is a man of diverse interests. When not working his day job at the college, he might be found at a party, wedding reception or night club making some extra money as a disc jockey.

“I used to DJ about every weekend, but I’ve cut back to about once or twice a month now,” he said.

Page also details cars in his spare time; tinkers with an elaborate model train set (30 feet long featuring engines from the Union and Missouri Pacific); and lifts weights. He considers all activities to be welcomed stress relievers.

“They help me unwind at the end of the day,” he said.

Although only 49, Page is less than two years away from completing 30 years as a JALC employee and is strongly considering retirement.

“There are days I try not to think about it and days I’m counting it down,” he said. “I will certainly miss the people I’ve worked with and developed friendships with over the years. I’m also going to miss learning new things, especially mechanical things. I’m surprised how much I have learned here on the job.”

Page may also make the effort to complete his Associate’s Degree at the school as he lacks about 10 hours altogether. He said he never envisioned the college’s dramatic growth the last 30 years.

“No, I never imagined it prospering like it has with so many new buildings on campus. There’s a lot more to clean and maintain these days. That’s for sure.”

The father of three children (Brittany, Micah and Nate), Page makes Murphysboro his home. His parents survive with his father living in Mississippi and mother still residing in East St. Louis. He has a brother, Quinton, who works for Ameren and resides in Fairview Heights. His sister, Sherry, lives in Texas, and works at an Army hospital. Page is not married, but has a girlfriend, Fronstella Rowe.

Page said he has never strayed too far from the basketball court. He served as a volunteer assistant coach years ago and, at times, has been a mentor to young men trying to find their way in life.

“There are still some former players I stay in contact with,” he said. “I do what I can to help people if they ask for help. I have always believed that life is a communication. Somebody’s going to learn something from you, one way or the other, so why not make it the right thing?”