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Californian visits Norfolk, Northeast for first time in 73 years

Californian visits Norfolk, Northeast for first time in 73 years

NORFOLK, Neb. – Jerilyn “Jeri” McIntyre spent her early years in Norfolk, and while she moved with her family to California more than 70 years ago, her heart is still attached to Norfolk.

Her father, Frank McIntyre, was dean of Norfolk Junior College from 1942 to 1949. Norfolk Junior College was one of the institutions that merged into Northeast Community College in 1973.

Jeri and her husband, David Smith, are visiting Iowa City, Iowa, and Norfolk this month. They are going to Iowa City because both she and David either taught or studied at Iowa in overlapping years. While they knew some of the same people at Iowa, they didn’t meet until they were both working at the University of Utah.
Until this month, Jeri had not been back to Norfolk since her family moved to Pasadena in 1949.

Jeri’s connection to Nebraska began in Norfolk, but her parents lived in other cities in Nebraska. Frank was a high school English teacher in Fullerton. Her mother, Maxine, taught kindergarten in Fullerton. That’s where they met. 
Then the family moved to Fairbury, where Frank continued to teach and helped Fairbury to get a community college.

“That was an era when two members of the same family couldn’t teach (because of a possible conflict of interest). He was teaching a high school journalism program and there was a promotion to bring a junior college to Fairbury,” Jeri said.

Based on Frank McIntryre’s success at Fairbury, he was hired as dean at Norfolk Junior College. He also was sent out to recruit.

“Mom loved Norfolk. I think Dad did too, but she was always sorry they left Norfolk. She left a journal after she passed away. She talked about not being happy to move to California from Norfolk.”

When Frank moved his family in 1949, it was for a public relations job in Pasadena. Jeri had a brother, Joel, who was a lawyer.  Joel served as a lawyer in the Los Angeles area and died about five years ago. Joel earned his law degree at UCLA.

Both Jeri and Joel received undergraduate degrees at Stanford University. Jeri went on to get a master’s in journalism from Stanford and later got her Ph.D. in History and Communications from the University of Washington.

She has taught and worked in administration at several colleges and universities, including Iowa in Iowa City, and is president emeritus of the University of Utah.
“I have been retired for about 13 years. We just decided to go back to Iowa and I thought I’d like to go through Norfolk, kind of as a tribute to my Mom and Dad and my brother.”

Jeri also is a writer. She is writing a novel about a family who lived in a Western college town during World War II.

“I told David, ‘I don’t create, I remember, so the 7-year-old girl is unabashedly me.’ The town isn’t necessarily Norfolk, but I want to see if there are resources here who will tell me what it was like to be in a small-town during World War II because I was too small to remember it all.”

Other stops during the couple’s stay included the Elkhorn Valley Museum and the Norfolk Public Library to check out old newspaper articles.

Jeri said she knows the importance of community colleges, including for students who transfer to four-year institutions. In Utah, a lot of students went for two years to Salt Lake City Community College, then would transfer to the University of Utah.

“As vice president for academic affairs, we worked with them. I worked with the community colleges to make sure our articulation was fine,” Jeri said, “so I absolutely understand the cost issue.”

Jeri said she remembered the old building in central Norfolk where the Norfolk Junior College was located. One of the things that surprised her was how much the city limits of Norfolk have changed, including what is now Northeast Community College.

“This is a beautiful campus,” she said.


PHOTO IDs: David Smith (left) and Jerilyn “Jeri” McIntyre. 

PHOTO ID: Photo of Frank McIntyre from the 1947 Norfolk Jr. College yearbook.