Wilhelmine Vidmar ’68

In honor of National Scholarship month, we spotlight the family of this year’s Presidential Alumni Award winner, Wilhelmine “Willie” (McCarley) Vidmar ’68. Vidmar is well-known at USF. If people don’t know her personally, they most certainly know her by name– not only because of her long-time involvement with the Alumni Association Board, but also because she’s part of strong legacy of family members who have attended the College of St. Francis or University of St. Francis.

Willie can recall at least seven (and hopefully soon eight) family members who have graduated from USF.

Willie’s aunt, Geraldine (Griffin) Hammel, obtained her B.A. in English from CSF in 1934, followed by Willie’s mother, Wilhelmine Hammel, who graduated in 1936 with a degree in Chemistry. Willie then obtained her B.A. in Biology (with a minor in secondary education) in 1968—the same year another of her aunts, Genevieve (Hammel) Harms, graduated with a teaching degree as an adult student. Willie’s sister, Maureen McCarley graduated soon after in 1971 with a B.A. in Sociology, and Genevieve’s son (Willie’s cousin) Jerome Harms graduated from the Nursing program in 1972.

Willie’s daughter, also Wilhelmine Vidmar, attended and studied communications. She graduated in 1991. Now HER daughter (Willie’s granddaughter, who is ALSO named Wilhelmine but goes by “Maggie!”) is considering colleges and recently visited– and liked– USF. Fingers crossed!

Willie couldn’t be prouder of her family or her alma mater. Her love for St. Francis runs deep. She worked the USF switchboard over the summer then worked briefly as an admissions counselor after graduating. She joined the alumni board in 1973 and has remained involved ever since. She feels very lucky to be part of the St. Francis community.

“I’ve considered the university to be like a family. I almost didn’t make it there—I wanted to go away for school, but my circumstances changed and I ended up at St. Francis. I always say that St. Francis chose me—it wasn’t the other way around. St. Francis accepted me into the family. I’ve been involved or a long time and have been through umpteen presidents and staff members and am always proud of what’s going on there,” she said.

Willie currently serves as an adjunct instructor at Joliet Junior College and has her own business as a bridal seamstress.

Families like Willie’s have a unique opportunity to “pass on” the USF tradition. The Alumni & Family Relations Office offers a University of St. Francis Alumni Scholarship, awarded specifically to sons/daughters, husbands/wives, brothers/sisters or grandchildren of alumni. Applicants must be current students with no prior degree(s) earned from the University of St. Francis. Are you an alum, and if so, is there someone in your family who might consider attending USF? For more information about the Legacy Scholarship, contact the Alumni & Family Relations Office at 877-811-ALUM or visit stfrancis.edu/alumni/legacy-scholarship.