- Slices of Life: Jazz Professor Chip McNeill throws himself into his work
- Slices of Life: Jessie’s first fight
- Slices of Life: The longings of … a beautiful boy
- Slices of Life: Former pastor now hand-crafting beautiful furniture
- Slices of Life: Bishop seeks life for his church despite bleakness of neighborhood
- Slices of Life: Still missing his wife of 36 years, man keeps himself occupied at Champaign laundromat
- Slices of Life: Iraqi woman relates tale of her ‘rebirth’ in America
- Slices of Life: After meeting on dance floor, Harrises waltzing through life
- Slices of Life: Entrepreneur has spent much of his adult life belying a label from his high school days
- Slices of Life: Danville woman adores her flock of feathered friends
- Slices of Life: A sacred fire: The last of a farming line, a father soldiers on
- Slices of Life: University of Illinois student grateful for his journey to belief
- Slices of Life: Dave’s Firearms is a place for camaraderie — and camouflage
- Slices of Life: Never give up: The constant message at Restoration Urban Ministries
- Slices of Life: Area families struggle to find life after a soldier’s death
- Slices of Life: Missing the music
- Slices of Life: Willie Summerville: “Somebody say ‘Amen'”
- Slices of Life: Longtime local rabbi remains forever grateful for ‘sparks of holiness’ during a dark time
By Jonathan Jacobson — Connie Bickers gave me simple directions to her house in St. Joseph, but the country roads in central Illinois all look the same and in the pitch black of a winter evening I get lost. I find her house when I see a memorial road sign labeled “Cory Hubbell Way.” The sign was dedicated last October (2007) by Illinois Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn in honor of Bickers’ son, who died while serving in Kuwait in 2003. He is the reason I’m here.
“Can I show you Cory’s room?” Connie asks, leading me into a space filled floor to ceiling with memorabilia from her son’s life. Awards and recognitions, his Army boots and his uniforms, an old football he tossed around in the desert signed by members of his unit, memorial quilts knitted by military mothers to honor his service, and Connie’s collection of at least 30 angels that she began assembling after Cory’s death at 20 years old.
“He was my angel,” she says, fighting back tears.
This story was written by a University of Illinois journalism student in Professor Walt Harrington’s Literary Feature Writing class taught in collaboration with The News-Gazette. Funding for the class, which was taught at the newspaper’s headquarters in downtown Champaign, came from the Marajen Stevick Foundation. The story was part of an occasional series titled “Slices of Life” that ran in the newspaper’s Sunday Living section. All the stories in the series are also collected in the book “Slices of Life.”