Navy SEAL Leaves a Legacy Behind

William Bushelle, Sr. and William Bushelle, Jr.

William Bushelle Ex.’71, says his son preferred reading about heroic stories and figures as a youngster. He vividly recalls conversations with Will, who inquired about the modern day equivalent of ancient knights in American society.

As the elder Bushelle and his wife, Paula, reflect on their late son, they believe these early occurrences were a precursor of the direction he was headed in life. “Maybe he made up his mind to shape his own life in that fashion. Our country’s history clearly had an impact on Will,” Bushelle says.

Will’s actions confirmed this notion. After graduating from Ladue Hortin Watkins High School in St. Louis, the 2004 SIU industrial technology graduate initially chose the military over college. He enlisted in the Navy in August 1994, no doubt influenced by his father, a Navy man; grandfather, a decorated WWII veteran, and his great uncle, who served in Korea.

“Will’s mother and I were proud, although, we wanted him to enroll in college first,” Bushelle says. “We discussed it over a period of time, and Will told us that he wasn’t ready for college. He had completed substantial research and decided he wanted to become a Navy SEAL. Will was intent on that.”

After Basic Training and Electricians Mate “A” school in Great Lakes, Ill., Will completed Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL Training Class 202 in Coronado, Calif.

William Bushelle in Korea

William Bushelle in KoreaWill served as a platoon operator throughout his active service, which included stints in Germany and Spain, in addition to a voluntary deployment to the Al Anbar region of Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom with SEAL Team Five in 2006. His personal decorations include a Navy Commendation Medal With Valor, Navy Achievement Medals with Valor, Meritorious Service Medal, a Combat Action Ribbon, Iraq Campaign Medal, in addition to various unit and service awards.

And he enjoyed a successful civilian career. He served stints at Boeing, Master Brand Cabinets and Global Experience Specialists. “Will never feared stepping into the breach,” Bushelle notes. “He ran toward incidents that most people avoided.”

This was the case even before his career in the Navy SEALS. In high school, Will, an Eagle Scout, was honored for saving a classmate’s life, immediately reacting to suffocate a chemistry lab fire that had engulfed his classmate.

While on reserve duty, Will noticed a car engulfed in flames. He hurried to the scene and pulled the passengers out of the vehicle. As a 16-year-old, while traveling with his father and others on a hiking trip, the group came across an automobile accident. Will ran to the scene and administered aid to a lady who was bleeding from a head wound.

“Will did not brag about himself. He was always more interested in others,” Bushelle says. ”He took great interest in family, friends and even strangers he would engage in conversation.”

This humbleness is an attribute that many remember about Will, who died on February 2014 as a result of a car accident in Las Vegas. He was only 38.


Bruce DeRuntz M.S. ’96, Ph.D. ’05, an engineering technology professor at SIU, initially met Will when the latter arrived on campus in 2002. “Will was so humble. He never voluntarily talked about being a Navy SEAL. You had to pry it out of him,” he says.

Will made an instant impression on DeRuntz. The two initially encountered each other during a weekend course. Will stayed afterward to introduce himself, extend appreciation for the lecture, and inform DeRuntz that he thought it was going to be an enjoyable class.

“That was a first in my teaching career … I don’t recall a student ever making that statement to me,” DeRuntz says. “I instantly thought that there was something special about this student.”

William Bushelle Navy SEAL

After graduation, Will often contacted DeRuntz for career advice, and the professor sent care packages to him while he was in the reserves serving tours in the Middle East.

DeRuntz also directs SIU’s Leadership Development Program, which was founded in 2006 by SIU engineering graduate Dick Blaudow ’70, CEO of Advanced Technology Services in Peoria. The program is designed to develop technical leaders through training, mentoring, community service, opportunities and financial support.

Experiential learning is often incorporated for students. DeRuntz had Will skyped in and conducted a one-hour presentation on his own leadership principles. When Navy SEAL teammates offered support after Will’s death, DeRuntz invited two team members to campus last September during Military Appreciation Day weekend to lecture about Will’s principles.

“You can’t learn everything about leadership from a textbook. Special forces like the Navy SEALs are an outstanding resource in this regard,” DeRuntz says. “We integrate Will’s principles into the leadership program every chance we get. His friends thought the principles captured what he stood for as an individual.”

Close friends Paul ’02 and Nikki Bell ’02 refer to Will as a “special human being and friend.” “Will’s thoughtfulness, courage and zest for life are attributes that Nikki and I loved about him,” Paul says. “He made a strong commitment scholastically and to the Navy SEALS and Reserves. I appreciate his sacrifice.”

Nikki adds: “Will had natural charisma and he was unfailingly honest. He was upfront and truthful … you always appreciate that in a friend.”

The SIU Alumni Association life members were so fond of Will that they approached the Bushelles about the possibility of establishing a scholarship in his honor. After receiving approval, the Bells coordinated efforts with the SIU Foundation to create the William Bushelle Scholarship Endowment.

The scholarship gives family and friends an opportunity to make a gift in Will’s memory. It is open to all applicants who are active duty military/reserve, veteran or active ROTC with a major in engineering. If this criteria isn’t met, the recipient must be an engineering student participating in the Leadership Development Program.

“Will always made time for others. We wanted to further the goals Will had for himself and others around him,” Nikki says. “He was focused on giving back to SIU by mentoring or coaching students. His passion and love for the military and the engineering field were important, so we wanted that to be a part of the criteria.”


Bushelle says this gesture is heartwarming. The Bushelles have hosted many of Will’s college friends, co-workers and Navy SEAL teammates at their home since his death. He also says that people from all facets of Will’s life have honored his son’s memory in various ways.

“We have heard from so many of Will’s friends. It is overwhelming to know that he had such wonderful friends who remember his family during these times,” he says. “There is no end to the good will and communication we have received from people who were touched by Will.”

Perhaps Bruce DeRuntz says it best in reflecting on Will’s impact on family and friends. While attending Will’s funeral, he says those in attendance took inventory of what Will’s life meant to them.

“Everyone decided that we should all strive to be like Will and live to the highest character, integrity, and honor. This is what Will would want us to do,” he says. “If we encounter a situation in life and ponder the best way to handle it, we should ask ourselves: ‘What would Will do?’

“And that will be our answer.”

If you would like to contribute to the William Bushelle Scholarship Endowment, please call Director of Development (Scholarships) Gary Bogue at 618/453-4906.

SIU Debate Team Wins Third Consecutive National Title

Josh Rivera and Zach Sneider holds trophy

The Southern Illinois University Carbondale Debate Team has completed the three-peat!

SIU’s debate team of Josh Rivera, a senior from Chicago majoring in political science, and Zach Schneider, a senior from Great Mills, Md., majoring in computer science, won the national championship of debate by finishing first in the National Parliamentary Tournament of Excellence (NPTE) at William Jewell College in Liberty, Mo. Nearly 800 teams competed in parliamentary debate this year, with only the top 68 qualifying for the NPTE.

It marks the third consecutive year that SIU won a national championship. SIU has won individual team national championship titles during six different years — 1988, 1996, 2008, 2013, 2014 and 2015.

Teams that finished behind SIU in this year’s national tournament included University of California- Berkeley, University of Oregon, University of Utah, Whitman College, and Lewis and Clark College. SIU defeated the following schools in parliamentary debate this year: Rice University, UCLA, The University of Nevada, Texas Tech University, Loyola University, The University of Colorado, etc.

Todd Graham, SIU’s debate team coach, says the NPTE is a double-elimination tournament. So a team must lose twice to be eliminated. This usually makes it so the best/most consistent teams do well at this national championship.

“We feel like the cream always rises to the top in this tournament. If a team has one bad debate, they are not eliminated,” he says. “We’ve been successful because of our system, the team’s preparation, and our standards for what constitute solid arguments in debates.

Todd Graham, SIU Debate Team Coach, advises Josh Rivera and Zach Schneider

“Those factors have served us well, in addition to a lot of good fortune.”

Schneider adds: “It is gratifying to see the fruits of the hard work that we logged in the weeks before the tournament. This was truly a team effort and I am deeply appreciative for the opportunity to be surrounded by such a quality group of people and end my debate career on top.”

There are two different tournaments in parliamentary debate that are considered “national championships.” NPTE and NPDA (National Parliamentary Debate Association). NPDA is open to anyone, while NPTE is by invitation only based on season-long rankings. SIU won both championships in 2013, and earned the NPDA title in 2014. This year’s NPTE title earned SIU the national distinction of winning a third consecutive national debate title.

SIU was the top ranked team in the country for the season-long rankings to determine seeding order before the tournament. Also, Rivera was named “Best Debater,” so-named by the coaches’ poll at the tournament. This was the Chicago native’s second time earning the honor. Rivera was part of both the 2013 championships (SIU won both national tournaments that year) with Mike Selck, and the 2014 NPDA title with Ben Campbell.

“SIU debate gave me the opportunity to be part of a tradition of hardworking and successful debaters,” Rivera says. “The fact that I won four national championships with three different partners speaks to the system of competitive excellence that is ingrained in the culture of SIU debate.”

Josh Rivera is a four-time national champion.

Rivera won 25 tournaments in his career and earned national championships three consecutive seasons; both are national records. He has won either the NPTE or NPDA championships four times. Rivera and Schneider were the highest ranked team, under the new system of NPTE rankings, since its inception, with the most points recorded under the new ranking system.

“I was a debater in high school, but never imagined I could do it in college,” Rivera says. “Now as graduation approaches, I am leaving as one of the most successful debaters. I feel blessed and privileged to have represented a school that supported my passion for debate, and on a team cultivated my talents into a series of successes.”

SIU’s debate team owns the following records:

  • Three NPTE championships – a national record.
  • A total of five NPTE or NPDA five times total – a national record.
  • The “Final Four” of a national championship tournament for eight consecutive years
  • The top-ranked parliamentary debate team in the country for “season-long” rankings (the pre-national championship rankings) on five occasions.
  • A Lifelong Devotion to the Next Generation

    Allan and Wanda McCabe

    Allan and Wanda McCabe’s professional careers are comprised of more than seven decades of teaching experience. Both earned degrees from Southern Illinois University and made a lifelong commitment to young people.

    “The greatest challenge in life is preparing the next generation. It is ongoing and should start early in a child’s life,” Allan says. “Youngsters encounter many hurdles. Some don’t receive support from their family. It is our role as educators to instill a can-do attitude.”

    Allan, a U.S. Army veteran who holds a bachelor’s (1954) and master’s (1955) in education, is a retired elementary education teacher and principal, high school political science teacher and guidance counselor. In 1966, he became the Director of the Marion Area Vocational Center, serving in this role until he retired in 1985.

    Wanda, a Harrisburg native, earned a bachelor’s (1952) and master’s (1958) from SIU in zoology and supervision, respectively. During a career spanning 34 years, she taught physical and biological sciences, specifically general science, biology, physical science, chemistry and physics. She taught two years each at Equality High School and Carrier Mills High School, and 30 years in Marion Community #2 Schools. Wanda retired a year after her husband.

    The McCabes, married since 1958, met in a SIU statistics course.

    They are no longer in the classroom, but still vested in young people. Longtime supporters of SIU, the couple established the Allan and Wanda McCabe Scholarship Endowment Fund. They were able to endow the scholarship by giving stock to the university. Scholarships are presented to a junior or senior animal science major with a special interest in beef cattle production who is from the southern Illinois region.

    In an interview with the SIU Alumni magazine in 1996, Wanda says: “The university and, most importantly, students for generations to come will benefit from this scholarship. From our perspective, it is a win-win situation.”

    Allan, who grew up the youngest of seven children in rural southern Illinois, says money was hard to come by for his family. He worked his way through college, and seeks to support current students who exhibit similar devotion and commitment to education.

    “I have always had a soft spot for rural country kids who are truly trying to take advantage of opportunities afforded to them at SIU. We are striving to provide some encouragement,” he says.

    Allan says it’s essential for students to investigate all means of support in pursuit of their dreams, including options such as scholarships, grants and loans. “There is no shame in working your way through school and seeking assistance to help you along the way,” he says.

    The McCabes stay busy in retirement. They farm and raise cattle in Williamson County; something they have done throughout their 56 years of marriage. In addition, they have been active in their church and multiple civic organizations. Allan has continued his leadership in the agriculture industry, serving in pertinent roles with the Illinois Agricultural Association and the Farm Bureau.

    “I keep moving because that is what keeps you young,” he says. “One of my pet peeves is hearing people say that they don’t have time. It is really a matter of how you use your time.

    “Every one of us has 24 hours in the day.”