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Club History

The Illini Club through the years

The San Diego Illini Club has been in continuous operation since 1966 as the home of Illini who relocated to America's Finest City.

For over 40 years the Club has continued to grow and flourish under the tutelage of a number dedicated Presidents and several hundred officers and directors.  The Club Presidents have been:

1966-67

Potsy Clark, Class of 1916

1980-81

Janet Dameron '57

1967-68

Earl Smith '19

1981-82

 Bernie Mix '57

1968-69

Paul Schminke '33

1982-83

Eleanor Covey '39 

1969-70

Art Michalek '52

1983-86

Bob Giles '66,'68

1970-71

Eddie Wiegle '28

1986-87

Bill Engelbrecht '81 

1971-72

Ferman Sims '59

1987-88

Kathy Nolan Frost '80

1972-73

Paul Close '32

1988-90

Pat Giles '69

1973-74

Eloise Radenz '32

1990-92

Al Zimmer '66,'69

1974-75

Wayne Dameron '60 

1992-96

Beth O'Rahilly '77

1975-76

Chester Cohagan '17

1996-99

Bob Giles '66,'68 & Al Zimmer '66,'69

1976-77

Burton Yount '29

1999-07

Denis Lougeay '66,'68

1977-78

Greig Yarger '28

2007-10

Dave Humphrey '89

1978-79

Ernest Morin '65

2010-12  

Andrew Cotner '99 

1979-80

Al Brozowski '49

   2013- Tom Larwin '65

The Club has organized many memorable events during its existence.  In the early days the Club met monthly for lunch at a restaurant in Mission Valley.  Members discussed their Illini experiences and talked about current events.  This was "networking" in the 60s and 70s.

On September 4, 1989, many Club members travelled north to the Los Angeles Coliseum to watch the Illini play USC.  The game was originally scheduled to be played in Moscow and was deemed the Glasnost Bowl.  But political problems moved the game to LA. Both teams featured young, highly regarded quarterbacks, Jeff George for the Illini and Todd Marinovich for the Trojans.  Jeff George threw two touchdowns late in the fourth quarter and the Illini won 14-13 after most of the USC fans had already left the stadium.

In 1992 Illini Coach Lou Tepper brought the Illini football team to San Diego for the Holiday Bowl to the delight of Club members.   There was a pep rally with Chief Illiniwek, the marching band,  and the cheerleaders in the ballroom of the Hyatt on Harbor Drive.  During the first half of the game Illinois quarterback Jason Verduzco threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to John Wright and Chris Richardson kicked a 19-yard field goal and Illinois led Hawaii 10-7. Hawaii's explosive offense was held to only 87 first-half yards.  But Hawaii came back in the second half to win 27-17, and Lou Tepper's coaching career spiraled downward.