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LA GRANDE, Ore. – In a cozy corner of the Library on EOU’s campus, longtime alumni Mary Jo Lemon, ’66, and her husband Terry Lemon, ’69, reminisced about their memories as adults, students, and children.
“I remember my mother bringing my sister and me to her office and just playing in the halls of Inlow,” Mary Jo said smiling. “She worked for seven of EOU’s presidents throughout her career; I remember helping her fold letters and babysitting for all of the professors.”
Mary Jo, part of a five-generation Mountaineer legacy, and her husband Terry, also a Mountie, talked about the importance of EOU in shaping lives. “It was here I realized the importance of education in our lives. EOU molded me into the person I am today and I am eternally grateful for that,” Terry chimed. “I look back at my days at Eastern as an educational experience and character-building. I was in the military for six months before starting college, which was a real growing-up experience. But college was a maturing experience. I look back on it as one of the best times of my life.”
“Our time at Eastern was so much fun!” Mary Jo said. “I sang with the Blue & Gold Singers; Terry played music; there were dances in Hoke every Friday. Our classes were small and we knew our professors. Everybody knew everybody, and it was just such a fun time.”
For Mary Jo and Terry, Eastern is much more than fond memories. Their dedication to their alma mater goes beyond nostalgia and personal history. It’s rooted in the belief that education is a gateway to a better future.
“Education can change lives. Scholarships can change even more,” Terry said. “We have the opportunity to help and support these students, and they’re so appreciative of the support. We know the students appreciate every scholarship they get. We need to do all we can do to help.”
Mary Jo and Terry have committed to giving back to EOU to reflect their desire to nurture the next generation of Mountaineers.
“Terry and I decided we always want to give back to Eastern because it’s important as alumni. You think back about your time here, or maybe about your kids or grandkids coming here. There’s something that drew us here. It starts at Eastern and carries you wherever you go,” Mary Jo said. “The mentoring and the family you get here are so strong.”
“Hopefully, the students we are helping to support will also want to give back when they graduate and carry on the tradition,” Mary Jo said.
“It’s made us feel good watching the campus grow over the years. To be here watching the developments, knowing the affection we have for the campus feels good to be a part of the growth. It helps the quality of education for the students,” Terry said. “It makes our hearts swell. EOU was great when we were students. You think everything was wonderful at the time, and it was. Now, there is so much more. And we can be a part of that momentum.”
Today, the Lemons continue their tradition of supporting EOU, in a variety of forms, from service with the Alumni Board to ongoing gifts, to attending events on campus.
“My mother served on the Foundation and I was part of the founders of the Alumni Board,” Mary Jo recalls of being involved. “Everyone had their heart in it, all of the alumni association. It’s been great to be involved, watching the campus and EOU community grow.”
“Oh, our blood runs blue and gold,” Mary Jo chuckled. “We do what we can to support the students and we always will.”
Next time you’re at a football game, make sure to give a “Go Mounties” wave to Terry and Mary Jo.
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