Illini Legends, Lists and Lore: March 10, 2019

Illini Legends, Lists and Lore: March 10, 2019

A member of the fraternity of former Illinois football captains is 1960s star Robert "Bo" Batchelder.

The Peoria Richwoods standout, singled out by his coach Bob Baietto as "one of the greatest Knights athletes ever," wasn't eligible to play as an Illini freshman for Coach Pete Elliott in 1963. Batchelder saw his first varsity action a sophomore end in 1964, a year after the school's Rose Bowl season, playing both offensively and defensively.

His finest individual game came during the 1965 season when the Illini shut out Purdue. Against Boilermaker quarterback Bob Griese, Batchelder intercepted two passes and recovered two fumbles, including one that he returned 63 yards to set up Illinois' final touchdown. That effort earned him National Lineman of the Week honors from AP, UPI and Sports Illustrated. At the end of the season, Batchelder was second-team All-Big Ten and honorable mention All-America.

As a senior in 1966, he and Kai Anderson were named Illini co-captains.

"For me, and I believe for Kai also, being co-captains of the Fighting Illini was the highest and greatest honor I received at the University of Illinois," Batchelder said. "I won some other awards and he did, too, but I believe we both felt the same way. We were humbled and we were honored to be co-captains."

Batchelder was president of UI's Alpha Tau Omega fraternity. He used his bachelor's degree in marketing to become a highly successful businessman.

Batchelder operated his own food service company in Peoria throughout much of the 1970s, then became executive vice president of marketing for the Hardees restaurant chain. From 1988 through 2015, he owned and operated several Hardees and Taco Bell franchises.

Today, Batchelder & Associates is an authorized distributor of the Tersano Lotus Cleaning System, a company that produces ozone water machines that sanitize and deodorize entire facilities, including the Activities and Recreation Center (ARC) on the University of Illinois campus.

Batchelder celebrated his 74th birthday on March 10 at his home in Raleigh, N.C. with his wife Judy, three children and seven grandchildren.

Illini Birthdays:

Today: Hope Breslin, soccer (20)

Monday: Jihad Ward, football (25)

Tuesday: Miles Osei, football (27)

Wednesday: Brooks Taylor, basketball (48)

Thursday: Bob Goalby, football/(golf) (90)

Friday: Ted Karras, football (26)

Saturday: Tara Hurless, soccer

By Mike Pearson, author of Illini Legends, Lists & Lore (Third Edition now available in stores). Get more Illini birthdays, trivia and historical tidbits daily on Twitter@B1GLLL. His website is