North Central College - Naperville, IL

Family’s College legacy spans four generations, 22 years of Labor Day parades

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A family with connections to North Central College spanning four generations will participate in this year’s Naperville Jaycees Last Fling Labor Day Parade.

Carolyn Kuhn, a 2006 psychology graduate of North Central College, will drive a 1951 John Deere tractor that belonged to her grandfather, Al Lisson Jr. Her great-grandfather, Al Lisson Sr., was one of 16 members of the class of 1901 at what was then called North-Western College.

The annual Last Fling Labor Day Parade takes place on Monday, Sept. 5, in downtown Naperville. The theme this year is “A College in Its Community,” and grand marshal is Harold R. Wilde, North Central College president. The theme honors North Central College, which is celebrating its Sesquicentennial.

Al Lisson Sr. grew up on his family’s farm in what is now southeast Naperville. The family’s Naperville roots are represented in the name Lisson Road, which runs between Wehrli Road and Royce Road on either side of 87th Street.

 At the turn of the 20th century Lisson studied business at the College.

“He studied business in order to learn how to run the farm,” says his granddaughter, Marianne Kuhn. “After graduation he returned to the farm.”

The 1951 tractor Carolyn will be driving in the parade belonged to Al Lisson Jr. He was always particularly fond of John Deere tractors. When he passed away in 1989, Carolyn’s dad, Tom completely restored it and started the Good Old Toys tractor club. Every year since then, the John Deere has been in the Naperville Labor Day Parade.

 “I was 5 years old when my dad got the tractor,” Carolyn says. “He taught me how to drive it, how to work the clutch and everything.”

The elder Lisson earned a degree in a business program established by James Nichols, one of the College’s notable alumni and a generous benefactor to the City of Naperville and the College.

Nichols graduated from North-Western in 1880 and was soon thereafter appointed principal of the Commercial Department of the College. In 1886, he wrote and published “The Business Guide,” or “Safe Methods of Business,” which ultimately led to the publishing venture J. L. Nichols & Co. that operated in Naperville for many years. Upon his death at age 44, James Nichols bequeathed funds to Naperville for a free public library and to the College for a gymnasium.

The parade begins at 10 a.m. Sept. 5 at Naperville North High School, 899 N. Mill St. This year’s parade returns to the traditional route down Mill Street to Jefferson Avenue to Main Street to Porter Avenue and ending at Naperville Central High School, 440 W. Aurora Ave.

The annual event draws more than 100 participants and thousands of spectators. For information about sponsorship opportunities, call Rosemarie Breske Garvey at 630-864-7950. Visit lastfling.org to learn more.

Last Fling is an annual Naperville Jaycees-sponsored festival that draws more than 300,000 patrons and features live entertainment, family fun areas, a business expo, food vendors and much more. Headliners during this year’s four-day festival Sept. 2-5 include Gin Blossoms, Poi Dog Pondering and Big & Rich with Gretchen Wilson.

North Central College’s yearlong Sesquicentennial Celebration commemorates the 150th anniversary of the first day of classes on Nov. 11, 1861, and the College’s role in helping to shape the fabric of the Naperville community. Throughout its history, North Central College alumni have distinguished themselves as leaders in the arts, sciences, business, education and many other areas. Numerous Sesquicentennial events and projects are planned throughout 2011 and into 2012. Visit northcentralcollege.edu/150 to learn more.

08-02-2011