DEVELOPMENT

A Sister Remembers

Conceived as a tribute to the memory of two brothers, a new endowment in Commerce also stands as an enduring salute to a mother and father who were willing to stake everything on the education of their children.

Established through a deferred gift from Illinois alumna Dorothy Fletcher of Anaheim, California, The Charles L. and Garland B. Fletcher Fund will support undergraduate scholarships and graduate fellowships for the students of CBA.

Scholarship donor Dorothy Fletcher (r), with her sister, the late Marjorie Burgess, in a 1996 photograph.
"They were honorable men and I loved them very much," said Fletcher of her brothers, in a moving letter written in February, to explain her purpose in establishing the fund — in short, "To honor their lives." Both graduates of the College of Commerce, the two brothers were born in Clinton, Minnesota, Charles in 1902 and Garland five years later. Both attended Royal Illinois School and were graduates of Urbana High School. After Charles received a B.S. in Commerce Curriculum from the college in 1929, he was hired by the Chicago accounting firm of Harris Kerr Forster, eventually moving to Los Angeles as a partner in the firm. "Later," his sister wrote in her letter, "Conrad Hilton hired him as vice president and treasurer of the Hilton Hotels." Eventually he returned to Chicago, and became executive vice president of the company and later a member of its board of directors. Charles was married to Violet Root of Urbana, with whom he had four children. The family lived in Glenview, Illinois. He retired in 1973 and died on September 16, 1990, in Wilmette, Illinois.

His brother, Garland Bickley Fletcher, graduated in 1930 with a B.S. in General Business. In 1937, he and Esther Hogenson were married. They had one child, a daughter named Nancy. While a student, he worked as a photographer for the Illio and went on to found the Fletcher Studio in Urbana. "I might add that Garland Fletcher had a heart problem all his life. He was never a strong man, and the last few years of his life he had Parkinson's Disease, but he never gave up his work," wrote his sister, adding tenderly, "He loved little children and they loved him. They called him `their Garlin.'" He died on February 9, 1960.

Dorothy Fletcher herself attended the University of Illinois, graduating in 1930 with a B.S. in Education. Her sister, Marjorie
Burgess, also a University of Illinois student, was unable to complete her education because of economic stresses imposed by the Depression. She took a job in Chicago, eventually returning to campus to work in photography at the university. In 1952 she married Harold Burgess, who died less than ten years later. In 1962 Marjorie joined her sister in Anaheim, where she worked for the Anaheim City Library. After both sisters had retired, wrote Fletcher, "We traveled much of the world — Europe, Asia, Central America, parts of the U.S., and Japan and Russia." They sailed to Hawaii four times, and also made cruises to Mexico, the Mediterranean, and the Panama Canal. "It's a delightful way to travel when you are older — and young, too," Fletcher wrote. Sadly, Marjorie died on January 24, 2000. "She was my pal," Fletcher wrote. "I am lost without her."
 
Charles L. and Garland B. Fletcher

Their parents were Charles and Nora Fletcher. "Our father lost all his land due to the Depression — probably due to selling his grain elevator and moving to Urbana so we all could go to the university," Fletcher wrote. "Both my father and mother believed in education for their children. `They must go to the university' was their theme." The four Fletcher children had an older brother — Edwin Fletcher, who died of meningitis in 1918, while still a high school student.

In her letter, Fletcher added: "My grandfather, Aurelius Horace Fletcher, and his brother came to Illinois in the 1860s and broke their land with oxen. This was near Pesotum. At his death he left his wife and all his nine children — a farm for each of them."

At the age of ninety-one, Fletcher continues to lead a very active life in Anaheim, where she has lived since the '40s. "I'm told I'm very young for my age," she said, in a recent telephone conversation. Early in her career, she decided to head West, having taught for several years in rural Illinois schools. "This was the Depression," she said. "There were no jobs." Fortunately, all that changed when she got to California. She became a long-time teacher in Anaheim Union High School District where her subject was American history.

She also invested wisely, and is pleased to be sharing the fruits of her success with those who can benefit. "I've seen the need for scholarships," she wrote. "I've known too many bright students who couldn't afford to go to college. Once upon a time, high school graduation was thought to be enough to get a good job and be successful — not anymore."