Keeping 2003 alumnus’s memory alive with music

By Gus Bode

Concert benefit for alumnus who died July, 2003

Factoid:The concert will be at 10 tonight at Sidetracks Bar and Grill, 101 W. College St.

Casey Marcum still lives in the same house in which he lived with Chris Jones when they attended SIUC. It is a house full of memories of a friend he will never forget.


Jones, a marketing alumnus who graduated in 2002, drowned after diving off a cliff into the Current River in July 2003 in Van Buren, Mo.

Since that tragic day, Marcum and Jones’ other friends have been working to establish a $25,000 scholarship in his honor. After almost three years of collecting money, they only need $3,800 more to reach their goal.

The group will have a benefit concert at 10 tonight at Sidetracks Bar and Grill to help raise the rest of the money needed to reach the goal for the Chris Jones Outstanding Leadership Award. Pi Sigma Epsilon, Jones’ fraternity, is sponsoring the event.

Gail Jones said her son was just beginning a career with a marketing firm in California and had just returned from a backpacking trip across Europe with friends before the accident.

“He enjoyed life to the fullest,” Gail Jones said. “He probably did more things in his 22 years of life than many of us have done in a lifetime.”

Thousands of people attended Chris Jones’ visitation, which Gail Jones said lasted nearly six hours, in July 2003.

“We had no idea the number of lives that Chris touched,” Gail Jones said. “He was just a very outgoing person. I didn’t know of anyone who met Chris that didn’t like him. It was incredible.”


Marcum plays bass in Kolerik, one of the three bands playing at the benefit show. Against the Tide, a local band, and Undermine, a band from Peru, will also play at the concert. Marcum said he hopes to see more than 600 people attend.

The SIU Foundation requires a $25,000 minimum deposit for a scholarship, which it earns enough yearly interest to support itself without outside donations.

Though the $25,000 deposit goal has not been reached yet, the scholarship has been awarded to students within the College of Business and Administration for the last two years. This year, Katie Fesler, Kari Stark and Marissa McNeil received the award. Last year, the recipient was Tammy Waldhoff.

Terry Clark, chairman of the Marketing Department, was one of Jones’ favorite professors. Clark said the department bought a block of tickets to tonight’s show to support the cause.

“I think it’ll be fun,” said Clark, who is going to the show. “He was a wonderful guy.”

Clark said the department has donated a lot of money to the fund.

Amy Graham, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in marketing in August 2004, was Jones’ “little sister” in the Pi Sigma Epsilon fraternity. Now living in Elmwood Park and unable to attend, Graham said she wishes she could be at the show.

Graham said Jones helped her keep on track during the years he was her mentor. She said Jones taught her to live each day as though it were her last.

“He was that guy who said all the right things,” Graham said. “He said what he wanted to do with life, and he did it.”

Reporter Julie Engler can be reached at [email protected]