On October 19th, 2017 the Kankakee Community College Foundation held their annual meeting at the Hilton Garden Inn Convention Center. Mark Chapman and I attended and sat with the recipient of our Scholarship. I want you to meet Nicole Neiner who is the 2017 recipient of the CIGC Agriculture/Horticulture Scholarship. She lives in Manteno, IL and will transfer to a larger University upon completion of KCC. She seems quite bright, easy to talk to and I am sure she is a good fit for our Scholarship. The Olde Time Farm Show has invited CIGC members to ride on the people mover for the Bradley Christmas Parade on December 1. They are meeting at 5pm to decorate the float at the Perry Farm. They will be distributing (5) 5 gallon buckets of candy to the children along the way. The parade starts at 5:30.
This month’s featured member is someone you all think you know well, but do you? John is 69 years young and was born in Fairbury, IL to Claude and Sally Fulton. John’s father was related to the beloved Bishop Fulton Sheen who helped Claude get his start in farming. Claude sharecrop farmed near Chatsworth until 1952 when he was able to buy his own farm in Herscher, IL. John was about four years old. John attended Herscher Grade School and Herscher High School where he met his sweetheart and now wife Loretta. John worked at Roper Corporation upon graduation until he was drafted in March of 1968. John did basic at Ft. Leonard Wood in Missouri and then was sent to San Antonio, Texas for medical training to become an Army Medic. He was then sent to Dong Kam (sp???) Vietnam to join the 9th Infantry. John earned his Medal of Valor as a member of the 9th Infantry. On May 13th, 1969 during the Tet Offensive of 1968 in Ben Tre’, Vietnam, John was critically wounded while attached to another Army unit. The unit was on patrol of a trail along a river when a mine exploded injuring other soldiers. John was severely injured by a land mine as he attempted to give aid to the injured soldiers thus earning his Purple Heart. Through a miraculous series of events and the actions of his fellow officers, John was able to survive the incident and return home to Herscher and to marry is wife of 47 years, Loretta. John has maintained a relationship with many of those soldiers yet today. Together Fulton’s have 3 living children, Monica, Brad and Brent. A fourth child Eric died from spinal meningitis at the age of 2. John remembers that Eric was his combine child who, at the age of 2 could spot all brands of combines and would have to test them out whenever he got near one.
John retired from the Army August 20th, 1970 after a long recovery from his injuries. He returned to work at the Roper Corporation and served as a personnel manager working with Corporate heads Bill McGrath, Jamie Gibson and Max Hoover. John says he was treated very well and was respected by Roper Corporate officials. In 1974 John’s father passed leaving the farm to become a full-time job for John. At one time he was farming nearly 1000 acres. John also became involved with Manteno Veteran’s Home where he worked for 13 years. His duties included Chief of Security and Advocate for the Homeless Veterans. John is currently the Commander of Chapter 34 of the Disabled American Veterans and a member of the Kankakee Veterans Assistance Commission as well as member of the Herscher Legion. John is also member of the Kankakee County 100 Club, the Kankakee County Corn Growers as well as CIGC, OTFS, WCTA, Slow Boys and probably a few I missed.
So here might be the part you don’t know. After returning home from Vietnam, John decided to go back to school at Kankakee Community College (KCC). He holds 3 Associate Degrees. He became President of the KCC Alumni Association for many years and established the KCC Veteran’s Club and was president of it too. He was asked to join the KCC Foundation Board because of his dedicated work at KCC with the Alumni Association. In 2009 John was the first recipient of the Alumni Award and immediately it was renamed the “John M. Fulton Distinguished Alumni Award.” The recipients exemplify the following: Outstanding success and distinction in chosen field, Humanitarian service that has proven greatly beneficial to society, Continued interest in/support of education and community colleges, Overcoming life’s obstacles and Completion of a recognized program of instruction at KCC. John considers the Award a “great honor.” Did I mention he is only 69 years young? That’s a lot to do in a short amount of time!
As you may already know, John and his sons collect IH and Case tractors. I also hear that there are a couple of strays that have invaded the shed too. Maybe we can get a tour someday? John told me that he really enjoys being a member of all of the Clubs. He says “it’s all about the people you meet and the friends you make.”
Thank you, John, for who you are. — Craig