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Endowment establishes Marantz scholarship at UIS

April 30, 2004

SPRINGFIELD - The University of Illinois at Springfield has received an endowment of more than $40,000 to establish the Jack A. Marantz Memorial Scholarship Fund, which will underwrite scholarships for student athletes who are members of the Prairie Stars men’s varsity basketball team at UIS.

The scholarship honors the late Jack A. Marantz, who died in April 2003, and was established by his son, Tom, chairman of the board and CEO of the Bank of Springfield. Marantz felt that endowing a basketball scholarship at UIS was a fitting tribute to his father because it was “a pretty good fit for what Dad would have wanted to do.”

“He was real pro-kids,” Tom explained. “He was for anything that was a strong focal point in a kid’s life…that would encourage them to get involved and stay out of trouble.”

As a student at Rock Island High School in the 1940s, Jack lettered in football, baseball, basketball, tennis, “and maybe track.” Still, says Tom, his father fit the profile of an at-risk kid. “Dad didn’t have anyone to encourage him. He always said he was a graduate of the ‘Class of ’43 Hard Knocks.’”

Jack joined the Marines right out of high school and, following his discharge after World War II, he came to Springfield to work for his brother-in-law, Bernard Friedman, in the latter’s carpeting and drapery store. In 1965 he opened his own store, Jack Marantz Interiors. However, in the same year he also became founding president of the Bank of Springfield, a position that soon led him to close his design business.

Over the years, many area enterprises benefited from Marantz’ expertise and community spirit, but he never lost sight of his roots and devoted himself to establishing programs that would give kids a “focal point,” activities that would encourage them and keep them out of trouble. Though not personally an avid swimmer, his own children were and so he coached a number of swim teams, started high school swim programs, served as president of the Springfield Swim Club, and was a volunteer member of the board of trustees during the foundation of the International Swimming Hall of Fame. He also helped start baseball and basketball youth leagues in the city.

“Dad always did like basketball,” said Tom. “In 1999 he was inducted into the Springfield Sports Hall of Fame as a member of the One Day Cleaners team…They were pretty good.”

In the course of things Jack met and developed a friendship with a talented young basketball player, Kevin Gamble, star of Lanphier High’s 1983 state championship team.  Gamble went on to play in the NBA – for the Boston Celtics, Miami Heat, and Sacramento Kings – until an injury ended his career in 1997. When UIS launched its men’s basketball program in fall 2002, Gamble was recruited as head coach.

Chairman and chief executive officer of the Bank of Springfield at the time of his death, Marantz was also a founder and past president of the Community Bankers Association and served in leadership positions with the Bank of Kenney, First Community State Bank in Staunton and Edwardsville, Citizens Bank of Edinburg, and Riverton Community Bank.  In 1967 then-Mayor Nelson Howarth named him to the Springfield Police Pension Board and in 1996 Bank of Springfield was named Corporation of the Year by the Illinois Crime Prevention Association for its active support of the Neighborhood Watch Program. He was a past member of the board of the Sangamon State Foundation and the YMCA.

In fall 2003, after 26 years as an independent, UIS’ athletic program joined the American Midwest Conference. The men’s basketball team finished this season with a 12-16 record and advanced to the first round of the AMC Conference Tournament.

    The University of Illinois at Springfield, one of three U of I campuses, is a small, public liberal arts university that offers 40 degree programs – 20 bachelor’s, 19 master’s, and the Doctorate of Public Administration. UIS has a special mission in public affairs and service and is known for extraordinary internships, a wireless campus, extensive online offerings, and a commitment to teaching.
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