Famous Southern Illinois University Alumni You Never Knew Matriculated There

Southern Illinois University (SIU) is best known for its strong research partnerships, national recognition for service to underserved students, climate change research, scholarship programs, volunteer organizations, vigorous higher education programs — and a few famous alumni here and there. SIU is proud of its great work, and southernmost Illinois residents are equally proud of having this great institution for learning a part of their local communities.

Highest on the list (at least right now and for blatantly obvious reasons) is Better Call Saul’s famous lead actor, Bob Odenkirk. He plays dirty lawyer Saul Goodman on the Breaking Bad prequel show, which many people believe is even more brilliant than the original source material. His performance has netted him multiple Emmy nominations for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series. Odenkirk has also worked as a comedian and even wrote for Saturday Night Live in the 80’s and 90’s.

Other entertainers include James Belushi, Hannibal Buress, Bil Dwyer, Dennis Franz, Steve James, Melissa McCarthy, Gary Miller, Tom Minton, Tim O’Malley, Rick Rizzs, Richard Roundtree, Robert K. Weiss, and Walt Willey.

Did you know that Los Angeles Lakers Dick Garrett and Nate Hawthorne both went to school and graduated from SIU? Garrett played during the ‘69 season before he eventually became a member for the Buffalo Braves. Hawthorne played for the Lakers during the ‘73 season before claiming a spot on the roster of the Phoenix Suns. His career ended in injury.

One of the lesser known — but still very important — SIU alumni was none other than Louise Huffman, a US Antarctic program educator who currently serves as Director of Education and Outreach for the IDPO (Ice Drilling Program Office). She has claimed several awards during a distinguished career, including the Golden Apple Award in 2003 and the Illinois Science Teachers Association Award in both 1992 and 1996.

Famed musician and bassist for The Rolling Stones, Darryl Jones, also graduated from Southern Illinois. The band still records new music and tours after decades of good work. He previously worked as a member of Sting, and helped record Bring on the Night. A documentary about his life is currently in the works.

Other musicians who attended SIU include Open Mike Eagle, Lee England Jr., Shawn Colvin, Hamiet Bluiett, David Lee Murphy, Jason Ringenberg, and Mathien.

And lowest on the list (for equally obvious reasons) is notorious serial killer Timothy Wayne Krajcir, who was convicted for his crimes and confessed to killing at least nine women (although none of them resided in Illinois). He served in the U.S. Navy for only 14 months before he was dishonorably discharged for sexual assault. He was only connected to the aforementioned murders in 2007 after DNA evidence pointed his way. He was sentenced to 40 years in prison for SIU student Deborah Sheppard and others. He is currently 77 and was spared the death penalty.

Want to know more about the SIU mascot? Check out this fun biographical video to learn why SIU is so proud!

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