Top of the Morning, Aug. 5, 2014
Lou Liay, for 15 years the executive director of the University of Illinois Alumni Association, was quick to weigh in on the passing of James Brady. A 1962 graduate of the UI, Brady was a guest of Liay's during homecoming in 1984 and received the Alumni Achievement Award in 1991.
"He was from Centralia, a huge Cub fan.
"He spoke to a packed house at the Illini Union. He was in tears and we were all in tears. Very emotional speech. It was after the injury and we were all so darn proud of him. I remember he and Sarah were in the homecoming parade and he was cheered throughout the parade. ... He came to our house for a homecoming party afterward and of course everyone wanted to meet him.
"He was just a great guy — a Sigma Chi — and very, very proud of being an Illini.
"As tragic as the whole incident was, he still had his sense of humor and loved talking to people. I (was) pretty darn proud of what he means to the University of Illinois."
In Sunday's section, our Jeff D'Alessio asked prominent UI alums for their freshman moments. Academy Award-winning director ANG LEE checked in Monday.
"When I first arrived to UI, I was fresh from Taiwan. It was like moving to a big movie set — as I had seen America from TV and movies. I was excited, so I didn't miss home, but one thing I couldn't get used to was American food — in the dorm or anywhere in Champaign.
"It's not that Taiwan had better food back then, but most American food — orange juice, tomato sauce — was too sour for me, too acidic. My mouth wasn't trained for Western food. From then on, I gradually became a good cook, because I had to cook for myself — I couldn't take American food, except for Burger King and KFC.
"There was a commercial years ago for Burger King, where they showed that people from all over the world preferred BK to McDonald's — and I can attest to that.
"Since KFC, on Neil Street, was too much of a schlep from where I lived, there were times I would have a Whopper with cheese every night."