Former Morton College Foundation President Wayne Belanger died September 4th at the age of 70 after suffering an apparent heart attack, according to Foundation members.
In addition to his role with the Foundation, the resident of downstate Hillsboro may have been the only person in Morton College history to serve on the College’s Board of Trustees as both a Student Trustee and Board Member.
He served as a student trustee from 1976 to ’77 and was appointed to the Board of Trustees to fill a vacancy in 1985. Mr. Belanger joined the Morton College Foundation in 1991 and served three terms as President.
“Wayne was a great supporter of Morton College and Morton College students,” said Richard Vavra, the current Morton College Foundation President. “He will be really missed by the Morton College community.”
Mr. Belanger was an avid lifelong learner, according to Raquel Martinez, a close friend and fellow MCF Director. He received two associate degrees from Morton College and was part of the Student Senate. In addition, Mr. Belanger was named to “Who’s Who Among Students in American Junior Colleges.
He was retired from the Veterans Administration. He assisted individuals with psychiatric disorders and substance abuse problems during his 30-year career.
Mr. Belanger’s life changed drastically after a motor vehicle accident in May of 1971. He was unable to continue his chosen profession. With assistance from the Illinois Department of Vocational Rehabilitation, he attempted a return to formal education.
Mr. Belanger said he came to Morton College with no clear plan. With the assistance of the Counseling Department, he began studies after an almost eight-year absence from any type of formal education.
“Morton College gave Wayne the opportunity to find a new direction in his life,” Vavra added. “He always appreciated what Morton College did throughout his life.”
Mr. Belanger also met his wife, Linda, of over 40 years at Morton College. In addition to his wife, Mr. Belanger is survived by a daughter, Carrie.
“Because of the interest of the instructors, friends, and College staff, I was able to start my life over,” said Mr. Belanger in a 2013 interview. “I am certain that had I attempted all this at a traditional four-year institution, my journey would have been very different and not as successful.
“Since that time I have spent whatever time and resources I could attempting to repay the Morton community for all that I initially received educationally and personally.”