Dr. W. Wyeth Willard, historian, lawyer, WW II veteran and former assistant to Dr. Edman, fourth president of Wheaton College, was asked to write a reminiscense regarding the Alma Mater for the September 8, 1956, Wheaton Alumni magazine. A thorough researcher, Willard discovered an interesting fact about the beloved college song, usually sung in chapel or at special events.
‘O Wheaton, dear old Wheaton, live forever:
Brave sons and daughters true,
We will e’er uphold thy colors
The orange and the blue.’
While gathering material for the College history, Fire on the Prairie, I interviewed a then living secretary of the late President Charles A. Blanchard. He informed me that President Blanchard adapted a song of a now defunct Illinois college, and successfully introduced it at a chapel service. A recent letter from the widow of the above mentioned secretary confirms this testimony, to wit: that around the turn of the century, President Blanchard visited Hedding College, which was then functioning in the small town of Abingdon in Knox County, not far from Galesburg, Illinois. Hedding was having a hard struggle to keep open, and was about to liquidate. President Blanchard had spoken at Hedding, and greatly admired the college song with its “orange and blue.” He thought by changing a word here and there he might rescue the living song from the dying college of Hedding. With this object in mind he had his secretary prepare many cards with the present version of Wheaton’s Alma Mater typed thereon, ‘O Wheaton! dear old Wheaton, live forever!’ was thereupon sung in chapel to the delight of all. The adapted version was an immediate success.