Oglesby resident creates new IVCC art, theater scholarship

Glen Gerrard hopes to give back and help struggling students

Gerrard as Captain von Trapp with Jessica Kreiser as Maria in the 1996 Stage 212 production of The Sound of Music.

Glen Gerrard, of Oglesby, has created Illinois Valley Community College Foundation scholarships for students who display exceptional talent in art and theater.

“There is so much exceptional talent in the halls of IVCC struggling to get through, and they could use a hand up. I am hoping this will encourage them to be creative thinkers who can excel in whatever art form they choose,” Gerrard said.

Creating the scholarship accomplishes another of Gerrard’s long-held dreams.

“I have been hoping to do this for years,” he said. “I’ve been a very fortunate man and I just want pay it forward while I’m still around to enjoy it.”

IVCC Dean of Humanities, Fine Arts and Social Sciences Lirim Neziroski, left, President Jerry Corcoran, Glen Gerrard and Executive Director of Community Relations and Development Fran Brolley.

An artist, actor and set designer, Gerrard appeared in and worked behind the scenes for IVCC theater productions in the late 1960s. Long before there was a theater, he learned set design through on the job training and building scale models.

In April 1970, a month before his IVCC graduation, he was drafted and was unable to graduate. While in the service, he worked in the Fifth Army headquarters, where he also performed in Cactus Flower for Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri Special Services.

Gerrard as Detective Jim McLeod with Margaret (Wagner) Martinkus as Mary McLeod in the 1970 IVCC production of Detective Story at the Dom Ballroom in La Salle.

Upon his return to the Illinois Valley, Gerrard was a comprehensive art major at Illinois State University and received his bachelor’s degree in 1974. He has remained committed to artwork and his paintings and pastel drawings have won several awards.

“Being at IVCC was one of the most pivotal times of my life,” he says. “I didn’t do well when the college was still housed at L-P, but being at the new temporary campus made all the difference.”

Also contributing to The Gerrard Fine Arts Scholarship fund will be his sister, Bonnie Kolowski, a retired teacher and principal in Omaha, Nebraska. Bonnie attended IVCC from 1963 to 1965 and is grateful to then LPO Junior College for providing the foundation for her career in education.

“We both feel the groundwork we built at IVCC was among the best things that happened to us,” said Gerrard, “And we wanted to do something lasting here in our family name.”

The Gerrard Fine Arts Scholarship fund will honor their parents, Charles and Cora Gerrard, on behalf of their brothers and sisters. Their father quit school at age 11 to help support his family by driving a delivery wagon for the Jonesville Mine Company Store. He would later work 47 years at Westclox.

Their mother left L-P High School after her sophomore year to help support her family by working at Bent’s Department Store in downtown Oglesby.

Gerrard was the youngest of eight children and became interested in art at a very early age.

“Our parents were very creative,” Gerrard said. “They encouraged all of us to learn all we can and to never stop learning.”

Today Gerrard still designs sets, now in 3-D on the computer. He is a member of the Stage 212 board and is creating the 212 digital Visual Archives. He is the author of the popular Facebook page “Oglesby Days,” and for the past six years has volunteered as a docent at Westclox Museum where many of his father’s woodcarvings and his mother’s needlework are displayed.

Gerrard’s life in theater includes playing Ebenezer Scrooge in “A Christmas Carol” touring across six states and appearing in three separate productions of “I Do! I Do!” He was a foster parent for 10 years and formerly worked for the La Salle County Detention Home and Youth Service Bureau.

In 2018, he won the “Spirit of the Theatre Award” from River Valley Players in Henry for his timeless commitment to the craft. In 2019, he was honored with the Omni Arts Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to the arts in Illinois.

His voluminous artwork, acting and set design resume includes “Sound of Music,” “Inherit the Wind,” “Detective Story,” “Cabaret,” “Something’s Afoot,” “West Side Story,” “Grease,” “A Chorus Line,” “On Golden Pond,” “Man of La Mancha” and many others.