Interview with William Kuhfuss, Class of 1934



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Oral history interview with Illinois State Normal University alum Bill Kuhfuss, Class of 1934. The interview was conducted in Fall 1979 by John Sayer, Director of Alumni Services and Development. Kuhfuss reflects on various aspects of his time at the university and the broader context of the 1930s.

The interview starts with a comparison of enrollment between 1934 and 1979. Sayre notes the substantial growth from around 1,400 students during Kuhfuss’ time on campus to over 19,000 in 1979. Kuhfuss discusses the limited number of faculty members in the 1930s and highlights the impact of influential Agriculture Department professors Clyde Hudelson and Tom Douglass. Kuhfuss also recalls President Raymond Fairchild's leadership, describing him as a respected and personable figure.

The conversation briefly touches on the Little 19 Conference, a precursor to the IIAC (Illinois Intercollegiate Athletic Conference). Kuhfuss also reminisces about the athletic department, highlighting coaches like Clifford "Pop" Horton and Harold Hancock. He reflects on the smaller scale of sports during his time, the quality of athletes, and differences in coaching philosophy.

Kuhfuss discusses the economic challenges during the Great Depression, recalling the bank moratoriums and times when the market for agricultural products was severely affected. He shares his views on changes in education, emphasizing the importance of productivity and evolving challenges in the economy. He expounds on the changing dynamics of global interdependence and expresses concerns about future challenges, particularly in addressing the growing world population, food production, and the need for effective global economic solutions. The interview concludes with a discussion about the evolution of the towns of Normal and Bloomington and their economic development.

Interview Date



  • Enrollment: 00:53-02:19
  • President Fairchild: 02:19-03:45
  • Faculty and coaches: 03:51-06:47
  • Little 19 Conference: 06:47-7:37
  • Cultural changes from the Great Depression to 1979: 08:36-13:57
  • Changes at the university during this period: 13:57-18:00
  • ISNU athletics: 18:00-20:48
  • Impact of the Great Depression on agriculture: 21:41-24:51
  • Economic growth in Bloomington-Normal: 24:51-28:53

Biographical Statement

William “Bill” John Kuhfuss (1912-1994) was born to William and Emma (Scholl) Kuhfuss in Mackinaw, Illinois. He attended Illinois State Normal University from 1930 to 1934, studying agriculture. While on campus he played football, baseball, and track and lettered in all three sports. Kuhfuss married Elizabeth Storm in 1935; together they had four children. A lifelong farmer, he served as president of Country Companies Insurance from 1958 to 1970 and as president of the American Farm Bureau from 1970-1976. Kuhfuss was inducted into the ISU Athletics Hall of Fame in 1972.

Interview with William Kuhfuss, Class of 1934