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Rev. Don Daudelin Obituary

December 4, 2020

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MACOMB, IL – Western Illinois University's former longtime student advocate the Rev. Don Daudelin, 83, passed away at his home in Bloomington Thursday, Dec. 3. A private burial will be held at Evergreen Memorial Cemetery. A celebration of life will be held at a later date.

Daudelin joined WIU in 1965 as the campus minister. He served in that role for five years, and in 1970, was named the campus ombudsman. His position as ombudsman was the only administrative position established by resolution of the Faculty Senate. In 1980, his title changed to University student advocate and assistant to the provost. Daudelin retired from WIU in August 2000.

Shortly after his hiring in 1965, Daudelin became active in campus affairs, especially in defending students accused of violating University regulations. Asked to chair the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) Committee, he worked to guarantee the right of due process for students. At times of student protest, he often worked to calm the situation. Outspokenly against the Vietnam War, he sympathized with anti-war activists. Then-President Bernhard felt that Daudelin's ministry was very beneficial, and in 1970, appointed him as University ombudsman, charged with helping students deal with the institution – in regard to regulations, courses, housing, financial aid and other concerns. His work led the effort to create a judicial document, approved in 1974, which guaranteed student rights. As WIU's student advocate, Daudelin could work with nearly 30,000 cases each year.

In early 1971, the Board of Governors, worried about liability in case of a libel suit (concerning the Western Courier student newspaper), convinced President Bernhard to order the Courier off campus. The paper moved off campus and a non-profit corporation, Bitter Carrot Publications, was formed to keep it going. Among those involved with helping the publication do its work off campus was Daudelin, along with five other WIU faculty and staff members.

In addition to his work with students and upholding student rights, Daudelin was active on campus and in the community. During the holiday season, he'd put on Santa suit and took photos with area children. Daudelin and his wife, Karen, organized student groups, and instituted a popular Friday luncheon for faculty, and as an ordained minister, he would perform weddings for students and faculty. In the 1980s, his office in the Union became the campus hotline for Black students to report problems.

For many years, until 2017, Daudelin worked on Sundays at Cady's Smokeshop in Macomb, and students and townspeople often referred him to as "Old Mr. Cady." Cady's was important to his life as he got to meet townspeople, especially police officers whom he talked to about students and fair treatment.

Daudelin received his bachelor's in history from Arlington (TX) State College and his divinity degree from Bright Divinity School at Texas Christian University. He earned a master's degree from WIU. Before coming to WIU, Daudelin served as a paster of First Christian Church, Howe TX, as a campus minister at Arlington State College and as associate campus minister at Southwest Texas State College.

He is survived by his wife, Karen; three children, Tim, Doug and Kelly; five grandchildren; seven great-grandchildren; and several nieces and nephews.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorials are made to the WIU Foundation in Don's name. Online condolences may be left at


From the WIU Archives:

The Anti-War Protest at Simpkins Hall (by Don Daudelin):

The nights of Tuesday through Thursday I spent in the gym. I had taken a bedroll, but I got very little sleep. There were always groups of students and professors scattered here and there across the gym engaging in conversation about the war …

On Thursday, the referendum on the ROTC was held. Over two-thirds of the student body went to the polls. The largest number of student ever to cast votes on any issue or candidate in the history of WIU voted two to one that ROTC should remain on campus. Over 6,000 votes had been counted.

When the news was received in Simpkins Hall, many students accepted the vote as a repudiation of their views and began leaving the building. By Friday morning, only about 200 were left in the gym. Several more left during the day. The administration then decided that all of the students should leave and that those who did not would be removed. This word was received by the students in the gym during the afternoon. The protest leaders proposed that all of the students remain sitting on the floor, to be carried out by the policemen upon their arrival. The students agreed to do this.

Afraid that violence might erupt, I left the building, went over to the Office of Public Safety and requested an audience with the vice president of administration. I was taken into a room where he and the leaders of several police groups were meeting. I explained about that I had heard and indicated my fear for potential violence. Dr. Poll shared my views but said that decision had been made to clear the building in less than an hour. I asked him, if the student made several demands, of which two or three were acceptable to the administration, could the removal order be delayed? He said that it could not, but he agreed to consider any demands prior to the removal.

I ran back to Simpkins Hall and asked to meet with the student leaders. I explained to them my proposal and they proceeded to draw up a list of 10 demands. I then took these back to the vice president. He indicated that two were acceptable – stopping the practice of reporting the names of dismissed students more than once a year and establishing a Peace Center. I returned to Simpkins Hall and presented these statements to the student leaders. After a short discussion, they agreed to accept the vice president's office, explained it to the others, and declared the protest at an end.

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