Ultimate Routt Day takes place on April 1

by Colleen Doyle

On April 1, 1832, William Reuben Routt was born in Woodford County, Kentucky. Two short years later, Routt and his parents, Catherine Maria and Harvey, moved to a farm about eight miles southeast of Jacksonville and it is there where he spent the majority of his childhood.

It wasn’t until William Reuben Routt was in his 50s that he and his wife, Martha, officially moved to the city of Jacksonville, residing in a home on South Main Street.

In 1897, William and Martha Routt bought a home on East State Street — a clubhouse for Catholics known as the Routt Club. They chose to donate the home to the parish and in 1902, Father Crowe and Father Formaz opened a tentative high school in that very space. Soon, however, the need of a larger building was felt and when the appeal was made to the parishioners to help with funding, William and Martha Routt, along with their son Harvey, generously stepped forward. Together, the three of them made a gift that covered more than two-thirds of the necessary amount, and in 1905 Routt College opened its doors.

William and Martha Routt remained heavily involved with the school, and the students and teachers always did what they could to thank the Routt family for their generous gifts. One way to show their support was to join William, Martha and Harvey at their home on the first of April in the early 1900s so they could celebrate “Founders Day” on William Routt’s birthday. The students ate, played games and enjoyed each other’s company. They also took turns speaking in front of one another, paying homage to William Routt.

Since the early 1900s, various celebrations have taken place to honor Founders Day; however, in 2019, Routt Catholic High School (RCHS) made a commitment to celebrate the Routt family annually on April 1 on a day that would be known as Ultimate Routt Day.

The school was adamant that the current students, faculty and staff would have an opportunity to celebrate the day just as the original Routt students did in the early 1900s. Therefore the school has hosted “half-day schedules” so that the afternoon could be spent celebrating. Students have been treated to special lunches, music and games such as bags, washers or kickball.

The school was also adamant that the entire Routt community get a chance to celebrate, so it was determined that anyone with ties to RCHS would have an opportunity to make a financial gift during a dedicated Day of Giving. The point of the Day of Giving was not to raise the most amount of money, but instead encourage participation — challenging the community to make a gift to support this institution that has meant so much to so many people.

This year is no different and on April 1, Routt Catholic High School invites YOU to take part in Ultimate Routt Day. Please help us reach our goal of 250 donors and help us celebrate all that is Routt Catholic High School. Gifts can be made at www.routtcatholic.com/ultimaterouttday. Contact RCHS Development/Enrollment Director Colleen Doyle at 217-243-8563, x. 6 or cdoyle@routtcatholic.com with any questions.

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