CARBONDALE — John Wright Corker, 85, passed peacefully away at home on Dec. 25, 2017, in Carbondale. He loved LIFE! He lived fully, usually at the center of everything. He and his wife Susan traveled the world seeing many friends and exciting places together.
He always reached out to others, making everyone feel welcome, sharing his wisdom and humor.
Born Oct. 29, 1932, in Portland, Oregon, to William Brigham Corker and Miriam Celeste Wright.
He married Susan Eddy Chase on Aug. 28, 1955, in Helena, Montana. He was a devoted and loving husband. He is survived by his wife, Susan; daughters, Deborah Corker of Alaska, and Elizabeth Corker of New York; and sons, John S. Corker of New York, and Chase Corker of Texas; and grandchildren, Sinclair and Olivia.
John attended WA HI and Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington, where he graduated with a business administration and economic degree May 1955. A member of Sigma Chi Fraternity. He showed his creativity with his talking animal floats winning homecoming parade awards three years in a row. He entered the U.S. Artillery Dec. 7, 1955, and served as a Counter Mortar Radar Instructor at Fort Sill, Lawton, Oklahoma.
His 42-year professional career started at the University of New Mexico in September 1958, where he helped open a new Student Union in Fall 1959 and served two years as director of housing. From 1962-65 John served as student center/housing director at Oakland University in Michigan, then became the associate director of the Illini Union at University of Illinois Champaign/Urbana 1965-73. From 1973-76 at the University of Massachusetts he was director of Murray D. Lincoln Campus Center. In 1976 he was hired as Student Center director at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale until 1995.
During his 19 years at SIUC Student Center he helped develop many new programs that remain part of Carbondale and SIU, such as Sunset Concerts, purchasing MFA student artwork for Center, Saluki Transport Bus system, the Craft Shop, space for International Student offices, Saluki radio, multiple annual student programs and activities. His concept of a Student Center without walls made it possible to develop many programs on the campus as well as in the community.
John received a MBA in Hotel, Restaurant, Institutional Management in 1964 from Oakland University. He served as guest lecturer and adjunct professor at UMass and SIUC. He was a Student Center consultant to 10 different universities. From May 1995 until his retirement in 1999, John was a visiting professor in hotel, restaurant management at SIUC. An active member of the International Association of College Unions (ACUI) he attended every national conference from 1958-1995 as well as hosting four different regional conferences and gave over 20 presentation, a highlight being the Keynote Speaker in Melbourne, Australia in 1991. Awarded ACUI Lifetime member, National College Bowl Chairman 1990-94, helped develop Honda All-Star Challenge for Historical Black Institutions. He was honored by the SIU Student Center with a space designated the John Corker Lounge.
In his community John was an elder at the First Presbyterian Church, a member of Rotary since 1976, member of Carbondale Human Relations Committee, and many community programs coming out of the Student Center at SIUC. When he developed Parkinson's he helped start a local Parkinson's support group. He played a mean game of pool, a tricky game of HORSE and filled his life and home with interesting people and activities. He remains to his wife a loving and devoted husband.
Services will be at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018, in First Presbyterian Church, Carbondale, followed by a celebration of John's life at the John Corker Lounge at the SIU Student Center.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to the First Presbyterian Church, Carbondale, IL or St Francis Shelter (Dog/Cat Rescue) Carbondale, or the charity of your choice. Envelopes will be available at the service.
Meredith Funeral Home in Carbondale assisted the family with arrangements.