WIU Celebrates Purple and Gold Day


Jeff Coy

Western Illinois University Alumni Association celebrated 15 years of Purple and Gold Day Friday around the world.

Western and the Western Alumni Association put together events celebrating Purple and Gold Day 2015 in Washington, D.C.; St. Louis; Seattle; Orlando, Florida; Northbrook, Illinois; Naperville, Illinois; Phoenix; Peoria, Illinois; Moline, Illinois; Los Angeles, California; Denver; Dallas; Chicago; Philadelphia; Sheridan, Wyoming and of course Macomb, Illinois.

“Today is a great day to be a Leatherneck,” President Jack Thomas said, during a message which was streamed live from Westerm to all the event locations.

In 2000, the university and the Board of Trustees voted to make April 24th Purple and Gold Day in honor of the day the Illinois General Assembly chose Macomb as the location for Western Illinois University.

 Many alumni went to celebrate at their nearest location to enjoy reconnecting with their alma mater. Macomb’s celebration took place at Sport’s Corner, located at 124 N. Randolph St., where many local alumni and residents of the area socialized.

“This is a great time to reflect, to see old friends and talk about times you’ve have together,” said Steve Collier a 1990 Western graduate. “I’ve seen some people that I haven’t seen in forever. It’s nice to reconnect back with them.”

For Debbi Coutre, a 1981 graduate, Purple and Gold Day was a chance to recognize how many people the university has touched. Both of Coutre’s parents went to Western as well as her husband and daughter. 

“Western has touched my family in many ways,” Coutre said.

A live stream originated from Denver, where Vice President of Advancement and Public Services Brad Bainter and former Denver Broncos head coach Red Miller, who also played and coached football for Western, were a part of the event. Bainter and Miller both greeted their fellow Leathernecks at the Denver event.

“This was great reunion to meet people who went to western in my area,” said Marcus Sipolt a 1977 Westerm graduate. “I always get excited to meet people for the Midwest area, and now I got to meet people from my own school.” 

Sipolt attended the event in Phoenix and enjoyed catching up with people who haven’t seen Western in many years. The Western alumnus visits the school often and stays involved with the university. 

According to Amy Spelman, the director of alumni programs and host of Purple and Gold Day, the networking was amazing.

“This is like a second homecoming for many of us who get excited showing their Western pride,” Spelman said. 

She stated that Purple and Gold Day was always a day the university promoted wearing school colors. 

“This year, since its 2015, we thought about putting 15 events together,” Spelman said. “This was obviously a big step, but it worked out well, and we got a lot of alumni for the different areas to participate.”

The Purple and Gold Day spirit will go beyond the U.S. In May, there will be a belated Purple and Gold Day celebration in Seoul, South Korea. 

“Out of all of the places celebrating Purple and Gold Day, I get to host the one in Macomb,” Spellman said. “But I realize it’s special being here because Macomb is where this all started. The purpose of this day is to celebrate Macomb being a part of the university.”