Illinois College held a memorial service for a beloved professor Wednesday morning at Rammelkamp Chapel on the Illinois College campus. Dr. William Cross taught in the Jacksonville Area, at Illinois College and at Lincoln Land Community College, for over 40 years and was cherished by many in the community.
Dr. Jan Buhrmann is a current Illinois College Sociology professor and was one of Dr. Cross’s colleagues in the Sociology department while Dr. Cross was a professor. Dr. Buhrmann gave a brief outline of Dr. Cross’s time in Jacksonville.
“I believe he started at Illinois College right around 1977, but it might have been earlier than that. He was here in the mid ’70s. And then he retired from Illinois College about 2015. And then he actually, worked went to work teaching for Lincoln Land, I think, that same year, and taught for Lincoln Land until probably about a year ago. I think he probably taught there until 2016 or 2017. So he was a lifelong professor of sociology. He just loved teaching.”
Dr. Buhrmann spoke on why students who had Dr. Cross in class were very fortunate to have been able to work with him.
“One of the things that he really focused on quite a bit was mentoring students. He was a very active champions of student success. He worked very intensively with students to make sure that they were grounded in what they wanted to do with their liberal arts education and how they might use sociology in their lives… and then, a lot of times, just helping explore potential careers fields.”
Dr. Buhrmann describes the specific topics Dr. Cross taught, his primary areas of research and also talks about the different sociology groups to which Dr. Cross dedicated himself.
“He loved teaching sociological theory. I know he taught urban sociology and I think he taught classes on race and ethnicity for the college. The things that he focused on in his own research work were things of social justice. He focused a lot on public transportation issues. And he was very active in some of the local and regional sociological organizations, especially the Midwest Sociological Society, and I think he presented papers at this particular conference every year. But he was also very involved in the Illinois Sociological Association, and to some degree the national organization, the American Sociological Association.”
Dr. Buhrmann speaks briefly about the service.
“Dr. Cross was a long time member of the First Presbyterian Church here in Jacksonville, and the pastor was nice enough to speak at the end of the service and give the Benediction, and lead everybody in the Lord’s Prayer. And there were three of us that spoke. I shared some memories of Dr. Cross and getting to know him. And Kelly Dagan, who is in the department and currently the chair of the Sociology department, she’s probably the faculty member in our department that’s known him the longest. She spoke a little bit. And Dr. Robert Sweatman, who is our Director of Institutional Research, and actually had him as a professor and as an academic adviser a number of years ago.”
Dr. William Mastin Cross was 81 years old.