Methodist Alumni Association Reunion Honors Class of 1967 and Outstanding Alumni

This summer the Methodist Alumni Association recognized our Alumni at the annual Reunion Luncheon. Almost 100 Alumni from around the country came to the new college campus to reconnect with the college and former classmates.

Before the luncheon began, attendees were able to mingle with friends and meet Alumni from various years. Around the room were tables displaying historic uniforms and memorabilia from the Alumni Archives. Everyone at the event enjoyed a delicious meal of hand carved brisket, panko herb encrusted chicken, various salads and side dishes.

The program was kicked off by honoring Mrs. Genevieve Hall Smith, an alumna of the Class of 1941. Mrs. Smith was recognized at the reunion as a member of the oldest class represented at the event. She was presented with a corsage as a token of our appreciation to her dedication to the nursing profession and to Methodist College. Mrs. Smith was joined at the reunion by her son and his wife. She leaves a legacy at Methodist because her grandson’s wife, Amy Smith, is a nursing instructor at Methodist College. Amy and her son were also able to join Mrs. Smith at the reunion, marking four generations of the Smith family in attendance to celebrate the past and future of Methodist College.

During the event Dr. Deborah Garrison, Interim Chancellor and President, provided an update of the college and spoke about the future of the college. Following her remarks, Dr. Garrison presented commemorative charms to the Class of 1967 to honor their 50th class reunion. Representatives from the Class of 1967 spoke about their memories from their time at Methodist School of Nursing. The stories were meet with great laughs and smiles from everyone who shared similar memories.

The annual Alumni Awards were also presented during the reunion. The Rising Star Alumnus Award was presented to Robert Lucia, Class of 2015. Mr. Lucia is someone who loves to learn! He graduated from Methodist College with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. He has also earned two bachelor’s degrees and a master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Bradley University. Throughout his career he has provided counseling to patients and their families, while developing support groups to meet the needs of specific patient populations. He has presented at many workshops and has been published several times. Mr. Lucia also serves on the Methodist Alumni Association Board of Directors.

Dr. Donna Beuchler-Furey was presented with the Methodist Alumni Association Service Award. Dr. Donna Beuchler-Furey is a graduate of the Class of 1967, after graduation she enlisted in the United States Air Force. She served one tour as a Flight Nurse and spent 20 years as the Air Force Chief Flight Nurse, flying Aeromedical Evacuation Missions into and out of combat zones. After active duty she served more than 20 years with the Department of Veterans Affairs. She was part of a group of volunteers who established the Vietnam Women’s Memorial. She also worked to establish the Illinois World War II State Memorial at Oak Ridge Cemetery in Springfield, Illinois. Dr. Beuchler-Furey has also dedicated her time to several animal rescue groups. She supports military dogs and lobbied intensely to have K-9 corps reclassified as GI personnel instead of excessive military supplies. Dr. Buechler-Furey has dedicated many years of work to military veterans and services.

This year’s Distinguished Alumni Award was presented to Wilma Slutz Christiansen, Class of 1957. Wilma is an active member of the Methodist Alumni Association Board of Directors. She worked with a local doctor for 20 years and spent several years in another office. Outside of professional work, Wilma is dedicated to service. She has served on the Church Council of the First United Methodist Church in Peoria, volunteered for the church’s Loaves and Fish ministry, and provided vital signs medical screenings. She has also volunteered at Irving and Lincoln middle schools in Peoria. Ms. Christiansen has also served on the Board of Directors of the Lessie Bates Davis Neighborhood House in East St. Louis and the Cunningham Children’s Home in Champaign, both affiliated with the United Methodist Women of the Illinois Great Rivers Conference. 

After the Alumni Reunion several attendees elected to take a tour of Methodist Hospital. A long-time hospital security personnel lead the tour at the hospital. The group enjoyed comparing the “then and now” of the current facility. The main entrance to Methodist Hospital sits on same location as the former Helen House dormitory for students. The group even got to take a peek down the hallway once known as the Helen House Tunnel! 

Thank you to everyone for attending the event and we hope to see you next year! 
For more information about the Methodist Alumni Association, please contact Meghan Smith at or call 309-672-5598.