Mary Jane Dunker

Mary Jane & Randy

Mary Jane & Randy Christmas 2005

Christmas 2005 Family Photo
Allison, George (Ashley's boyfriend), Ashley, Randy, MJ, Christopher, Joe, and Valerie (Joe's girlfriend).
Allison's boyfriend couldn't make it for Christmas, but he came on the 28th. He's from Scotland.
George is from Greece.

After graduation in 1966, I attended Southeast Missouri State College in Cape Girardeau. During the summer of 1967 I went to work part-time at Cairo High School as a secretary-bookkeeper, and decided that since I was making the "big bucks," I would not go back to college. Big mistake! However, Winnie Jean Bell and Phyllis Thomas Halliday also taught me well, and I had skills to carry me into a rather nice career as a legal secretary, and then later into the Human Resources field.

In 1969, while still working at the high school. Marshal Collier and I were married. Marshal had come to Cairo from East Alton, IL, just before entering the Marine Corps. I thought I was madly in love, and we got married and moved to East Alton upon his return from Viet Nam. After my son, Joseph William Collier, was born in 1970, Marshal decided to take off for parts unknown. We rarely heard from him, and my life as a single parent had begun- back to Cairo I went, so that I could be near my family.

In 1973 I met Eddie Herndon, from Tennessee, and in 1975 we were married. From that marriage my twin daughters, Ashley and Allison were born (in 1977). Eddie and I were married for almost 12 years before he was killed while working as a lineman for Central Illinois Public Service utility company in Anna. Because we were settled in Anna, I chose to remain here. My job was here, the children were in a good school system, and I really love this town. It has been my home since 1983, and even though growing up in Cairo was a wonderful experience, I am glad to say my children also had a great upbringing in the small-town environment of Anna.

After my husband Eddie died, there I was again as a single parent, for several years before Randy Edmonds came into my life. I must have been doing something right, because Randy is the kindest, MOST WONDERFUL man I have ever known (not to mention very easy on the eyes)! We were married in 1991, and will soon be celebrating our 10th anniversary. Randy is an awesome husband and father, and I thank God for him every day.

For over 20 years I worked as a legal secretary, first for Dorothy Spomer at the Courthouse in Cairo, and then in the private firm of Spomer and Spomer. When we moved to Anna I was employed as secretary for the Union County State's Attorney, and remained there for eight years. From the courthouse I went to the law firm of Womick and Associates in Carbondale as a legal secretary, and then came back to Anna in 1993 to work at the State Hospital. I am now the Human Resources Director at Choate, and this position is the one from which I will retire. It is both challenging and rewarding. My husband Randy also works at Choate on the Forensic Unit as a staff supervisor for 23 Security Therapy Aides. He is part of the Interdisciplinary Team who works with patients who have been determined unfit to stand trial.

Sporadically since 1967, I have taken many classes at Shawnee Community College, and am probably the oldest living college student in the history of Cairo High -but I'll get that degree someday! In fact, I'm ready to move on up to SIU. Wish me luck!

Between the two of us, we have four children. Joe, Ashley, Allison and Christopher. Joe graduated from the University of Illinois (1992) and is a writer/editor, living in Chicago. Ashley and Allison also graduated from the University of Illinois (May 2000). Ashley is with VISTA/AmeriCorps for a year, working with the Red Cross in Chicago, and plans to attend law school. Allison is in the Master's Program for Social Work at U of I in Urbana-Champaign. She, too, is making noises about going to law school. My stepson, Chris, graduated from SIU in Carbondale (Dec. 2000), and is a Webmaster for the Southern Illinoisan Newspaper in Carbondale. None of the children are married, and therefore I have no grandchildren. I am really looking forward to the day I can spoil some of my own, but at the present I have to settle for spoiling my great-nephews, Tyler and Alec.

In my spare time I enjoy reading, crocheting, walking and golfing. We have just taken up golf in the past year, and both of us are becoming addicted to the sport. We also love college basketball, and are season ticket holders for the SIU Saluki games. When warm weather comes, Randy and I like to fish, and we bought an RV a couple of years ago, which I hope will be put to lots of use in the next several years.

My life is good, and I am blessed. We belong to Mt. Moriah Lutheran Church, where I am a member of the Adult Choir and part-time piano player for the 8:00 a.m. services. We have four beautiful, wonderful, intelligent children who hopefully will produce some beautiful, wonderful, intelligent grandchildren in the future. We love life and each other. What more can a person possibly want!

Being a part of the Pilot Light 2000 has brought many friends back into my life, and for that I am grateful as well. Many acquaintances have been renewed, and I have heard from people as far back as my first years of grade school. I am truly thankful to the originators of this cyber class reunion!