These are the questions that students at
Dirksen Primary School had asked about the man
whose portrait is in their school.
Everett McKinley Dirksen was born without wealth to humble German
immigrants in Pekin. He was an outstanding man and
he had a remarkable career becoming one of the most
powerful and influential men in our country. Historians recognize him as one
of the best United States Senators our country has
But, books were not currently
available at the appropriate reading level
for the students to learn of the
accomplishments of Senator Dirksen.
This was brought to the attention of Marge Sevier
of The Tazewell County Genealogical & Historical Society.
After some initial discussion, a committee was
created of Marge (chair), John Durdle, Mary
Fouts, Dale O. Kuntz, and Carole Starrett to compile information
from the Senator's childhood and early beginnings in
Pekin through his rise to prominence in the national scene in Washington, DC.,
and of the tributes honoring him for his many accomplishments
in order to create an elementary school level book.
Many other folks helped out in the creation of the
book including Carol Hiller,
computer artistry; Nancy Heaton, education consultant; Linda Seth,
principal, and Lea Ann Juska,
teacher, at Dirksen Primary School; Dale O. Kuntz,
illustrations; and Dr. Thomas Dirksen (nephew of
Senator Dirksen), personal recollections of
Dirksen family information.
Frank Mackaman of the Dirksen
Congressional Center also contributed his expertise and support throughout the
preparation of the book.
Through the many
efforts of these volunteers, the Tazewell County
Genealogical & Historical Society was able to complete
publication of a 100-page book about Senator
Dirksen for primary and elementary grade levels entitled
Everett McKinley Dirksen....a boy from Pekin. The book
was written for students with a
third through seventh grade reading level. However,
adults will also find the photos and stories of Senator Dirksen's life
Copies of the books were presented at a program held Tuesday, March 27 at the
Dirksen Primary School for the students. Committee members and special
contributors were in attendance along with representatives of the sponsors of
the book: Frank Mackaman of the
Dirksen Congressional Center,
and representatives of the
Commerce Bancshares Foundation,
the Tazewell County School Employees Credit
Union, and the Tazewell County Farm Bureau. Mr. William
Link, superintendent of
Pekin District 108, was also in attendance.
The book is now also available to the general public.