Mascoutah Resident Named to Senior Illinois Hall of Fame
By Pamela Rensing
The Illinois Department on Aging (IDoA) recently announced that five senior citizens have been selected for Senior Illinois Hall of Fame in 2022. Mascoutah resident Robert Cearnal was named one of the honorees.
“The Senior Illinoisan Hall of Fame honors older adults who have made invaluable contributions to their communities—some over the course of several decades,” said IDoA Director Paula Basta. “It’s my honor to announce our 2022 inductees, all of whom are remarkable in their own right and very deserving of this recognition.”
The Senior Illinoisan Hall of Fame was established by the General Assembly in 1994 to honor older adults’ accomplishments and contributions to their communities. Each year, IDoA presents Senior Illinoisan Hall of Fame awards to older adults who excel in the categories of community service, education, performance and/or graphic arts, and the labor force. This year, tied scores in the community service category resulted in a total of five older adults joining the Hall of Fame, one more than the traditional four annual inductees.
The honorees are: Senior Illinoisan Hall of Fame in 2022 are: David Risley, 70, of Rochester in the category of community service; the late Martha Bowen of Chicago in the category of community service; Phil Bratta, 79, of Davis Junction in the category of education; Ernest White, 73, of Jacksonville in the category of the labor force; and our own Robert “Bob” Cearnal, 81, of Mascoutah in the category of performance and/or graphic arts.
A ceremony honoring Cearnal will be held Wednesday, Nov. 30, at the Espenschied Chapel Annex in Mascoutah from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Paula Basta, Director of the IDoA, will be in attendance. Friends, family, former students and faculty are invited, and complimentary refreshments and beverages will be served. RSVPs are requested by November 23 via email at email@example.com. Espenschied Chapel Annex is located at 317 N. County Rd. in Mascoutah.
“I am so honored and very humbled by this award,” Cearnal said. “The family support I receive from my wife JoReed, my son, daughter, grandchildren and great-grandchildren have been instrumental in my life. I’m extremely fortunate.” The Cearnals have been married for 61 years.
Cearnal became an educator in 1962 and continued until his retirement in 2000. While at Mascoutah High School, Cearnal organized the Students Against Driving Drunk Club (SADD). He was selected as the “Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers” in 1994.
After his retirement, one of the former members of the golf team Cearnal coached, came to him with the idea to host a golf scramble with funds being raised for graduating seniors. In the past 14 years, over $120,000 in scholarships were awarded.
In 1968, Cearnal joined the Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barber Shop Quartet Singing in America (now called the Barbershop Harmony Society). He joined several quartets entertaining audiences from Florida to Canada in his award-winning Male Delivery Quartet. This foursome also appeared on the NBC “Today” Show.
He has emceed many chapter shows throughout the Midwest and on the international level. He has served as Master of Ceremonies for chorus and quartet competitions, Mid-Winter shows, and Senior and College Quartet contests. As an emcee, he was the presenter of the Barbershop Harmony Society (BHS) 75th Anniversary concert in Carnegie Hall in New York City. As a result of his years of dedication, he was inducted into the BHS Master of Ceremonies Hall of Fame.
Cearnal has received many honors throughout the years. As international president of the Barbershop Harmony Society, he flew to Germany to sign that chapter’s proclamation as an accredited affiliate member of BHS.
As a teacher, he created two new classes for the English curriculum – Studies in Humor and Detective Fiction for which he received the coveted Golden Apple Award from the local public service television station.
Cearnal recognizes the love of music in all ages, but especially to those living in nursing homes. Over the years, the group has performed for numerous nursing homes and retirement centers, sometimes as many as 25-30 times each year.
For approximately 25 years, he also volunteered to be the song leader for Mascoutah’s annual Christmas caroling evening. Cearnal and members of the BHS will participate in the Mascoutah Lighted Christmas Parade on Friday, Dec. 2. After the parade, Cearnal will officially welcome Santa to Mascoutah before he begins greeting children at the Santa Hut.
Illinois Department of Aging – The IDoA serves and advocates for older Illinoisans and their caregivers by administering quality and culturally appropriate programs that promote partnerships and encourage independence, dignity, and quality of life. For information about the Department’s programs and services for older adults and persons with disabilities, visit https://www2.illinois.gov/aging/programs or contact the Senior HelpLine toll-free at 1-800-252-8966, Monday through Friday between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m.
Bob Hatter here!! I was honored to stand next to Bob on the risers during my time with Ambassadors of Harmony. Bob was a man’s man and a gentleman above all, his kindness and endless wit were so appreciated by all who came in contact with Bob. Love ya Bob and honored to call you friend!
Judy Holtzscher here. It was an honor to have coached your quartet and arranged music for it. You guys were so entertaining. Love you and Jo.
Congratulations to Mr. Cearnal! You and Mrs. Cearnal were an absolute blessing to Mascoutah High School, always cheerful and kind to every student.
From a class of ’95 student
Congratulations, Mr. Cearnal!
I was fortunate to be among your senior Marissa Township High School English students in 1964-‘65 and have vivid memories of your superlative instruction. It was my favorite course of study and I can recite the Prologue to Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales in Middle English, still…and I am 75 years old! Also, you made certain we knew how to diagram sentences before we walked across the stage to receive our diplomas, touching on it in your lesson plans for a short segment of time, as we reviewed these things from our previous years of study.
Your work and choral music performances as director and performer were greatly enjoyed by audiences, as well as members. Serving as an officer in the Internal Barbershop Society was testament to your leadership acumen. My father performed in The Banks of the Wabash Barbershop Chorus in Terre Haute, Indiana for many years and, as his daughter, as well as professional musician, I know how much work was involved in preparation for performances.
Thank you, Mr Cearnal, for being my senior English teacher.
Marissa Township High School
Class of 1965
It was so great to read this news clip about Mr. C. He was my sixth grade teacher in Marissa IL. All his students loved him. I’m so happy to read about his successes and the wonderful work he has done for others. Bravo Mr. C!!!!
I had the privilege to sing in SrQ, (Senior Quartet) with Bob, and count myself among his many friends. He’s the real deal, and very deserving of this honor.
Congratulations Bob and Jo! I will always have the fond memory of ringing some chords with you!
Thank you Mr. C! I was one of your students at Mascoutah during my Junior and Senior year. We established the SADD club back then in 1990-1991. I was a student president for that organization. We had a student assembly for the sad program that year. That was one of my practice moments as a high school student. Thank you for setting that up and taught me many leadership skills that now I use today as a high school science teacher in North Carolina I will forever. Be grateful. Good luck to you. Congratulations Janet McNeal.
Congratulations Bob on a well deserved honor❣️
Bob and JoReed are the real deal!
The most kind, caring, always wears a smile and they love their family❣️
Elvis & Tammy
Best Teacher Ever!!!
What a great man.
So excited for you to be recognized like this, Bob. Your coaching techniques & awesome attitude are burned into my memory! Thanks for all you’ve given to all of us. –Kitty M.
One of my all time favorite teachers
Congratulations Mr. Cearnal you were the best teach ever. Loved Comedy of Humor! ❤️❤️
I love these two. Very sweet and kind.