Left: Herb Evert's yearbook photo; Right: Evert, 81, wearing a Northwestern shirt given to him on his 44th birthday
Herb Evert didn't plan to attend Northwestern.
“I planned to go UIC for two years and become an accountant and that would take care of things,” the former finance executive says.
The son of German immigrants, Evert grew up in Riverdale, Illinois and attended elementary school and high school in Harvey. In his senior year Evert was president of a class of 600 people; that year, both Northwestern and Princeton offered him admission and a scholarship. He ultimately chose Northwestern, and, he says, “I’ve always been happy that I did.”
At the time, Northwestern offered an undergraduate business degree, and Evert dove into that world. He also joined the Delta Upsilon fraternity. “To this day, the fraternity has been very important to me,” he says. “My closest friends were from there and frequently when in contact with other alums from Northwestern fraternity membership has come up.” The fraternity alumni adviser, the then-dean of students James C. McLeod, was also a DU, and an influential person in Evert’s life.
In a chance meeting with McLeod, Evert mentioned that he could stay an extra year at Northwestern for graduate school, but that he also wanted to attend Harvard Business School. Two days after that conversation, Harvard admitted him. “I’m sure Dean McLeod played a major part in that,” he says. “In a sense, the fraternity and Northwestern were the catalysts that resulted in [my Harvard admission].”
Evert says his post-graduate experience of the two schools couldn't be more different. “After two years [at Harvard], I had a number of acquaintances, but few close relationships existed over the years in contrast to Northwestern.” Meanwhile, he’s active in his local Northwestern alumni club in Naples, Florida and attends Bowl games with his wife, Jeanette. He’ll return to campus this October for his class’s 60th year reunion.
Football is one area he’s seen the school improve over the years. “My senior year at Northwestern, the football team was 0 and 9,” he says (at the time, that was the University’s lowest record ever; last year, Coach Fitzgerald led the team to a 10-3 finish). “I’ve appreciated the success that’s been achieved in subsequent years.”
After a successful career with Northern Trust Company, a Chicago-based bank, including three years in Switzerland, Evert held senior financial executive roles with insurance companies and became a partner with a money management firm in the Philadelphia area from which he retired to Florida, where he still wears his purple proudly.
“My wife and I frequently walk along the ocean,” he says. “If it’s cold I’ll wear a Northwestern sweatshirt, and without exception someone will say something about Northwestern during the walk. It’s special to be associated with [the University].”