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Retired SWIC professor turns travel into an art form

Doug, 69, of Smithton, and his wife, Darlene, just got back from a 4,745-mile driving trip through eight states, much of it on Old Route 66.

Highlights were visiting their daughter, Kellie Hawkins, and her husband, Carl, in Dana Point, Calif., and seeing the Grand Canyon, where they took more than 350 photos.

“It’s the most incredible natural phenomenon I have ever seen,” Doug said. “There just aren’t words to describe it.”

The Eskras also stopped by Roswell, N.M., site of the famous UFO incident in 1947. Doug’s father was stationed at Roswell Army Air Field at the time.

Before the trip, the Eskras cleaned out their house and held a big garage sale. They parted with unwanted housewares, a couple of old bicycles and many craft items Darlene, 67, had collected while working 20 years at Frank’s Nursery and Crafts in Fairview Heights.

“It took us six weeks to prepare for (the sale), getting it all out and organized,” she said. “Since I was a retail person, I wasn’t going to just throw it in a pile.”

Retirement has given Doug more time to do yard work, help with household chores, ride his new bicycle and focus on his own artwork.

SWIC art department chairman Don Bevirt misses bouncing ideas off him, but he speaks highly of new faculty member Paula McAteer.

“She’s 28 years old and fresh out of the New York Academy of Art,” said Bevirt, 60, of Belleville. “She’s a classically trained artist, and she has her own ideas about how things are done.

“You can’t really replace Doug Eskra, but in her own way, she has been a solid replacement.”

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