Donna Rae (Hull) Tappe ’48
Donna Rae (Hull) Tappe ’48 met the love of her life, Elvin “El” Tappe ’45, one night after a QHS football game her senior year.
“He saw me strutting as a flag twirler during the football game and went home and told his mother that he had seen the girl he was going to marry,” Donna said.
Later that night, both Donna and Elvin went to the dance, a tradition after every home football game. Donna went with her friend Norma, while Elvin, Melvin (Elvin’s twin brother), and Dick Zumsteg went to sing as a trio, putting on the floor show at the dance.
At the time, “he didn’t know me, and I didn’t know him because he was older and had left right away,” Donna said. (Elvin, along with Melvin and the other starters of the 1944-1945 QHS Hall of Fame basketball team, left together immediately after high school for the service, missing their own graduation.)
“El told his friend, Bill, that he wanted to meet me, and Bill got us together.
El asked to take me home from the dance, but I told him I couldn’t because I was there with my friend, Norma. He said, ‘Oh that’s okay, I have a twin brother!’ They (Norma and Melvin) got stuck together for a couple of years after that.”
On her trip down memory lane, Donna recounted that many of her fondest memories of high school centered around her involvement in the music department. She played the timpani for the orchestra, clarinet for the band, and was a drum major. She spent many hours upstairs in the high school (now the Quincy Junior High) practicing and having fun with friends, like Bob Havens ’48, who she still sees regularly. Outside of music, Donna was also involved as a majorette and flag twirler.
She received scholarships to attend Western Illinois and Gem City College. Growing up, Donna had always seen herself going to school to become a teacher, like many others in her family. But, her vision changed when she met Elvin. Donna attended Gem City College, where she was able to work at her own quickened pace, eager to join Elvin down south as he started his baseball career.
Donna and Elvin got married on Dec. 28, 1948, while he was in the minor leagues, later joining the big leagues in the 1950s, playing for the Chicago Cubs. His career took their family to many places. Together, they traveled the United States, living in more than 20 cities as a result of his job, collecting unique stories and meeting interesting people, like Jim Reeves and Chuck Connors, along the way.
Elvin’s baseball career lasted 28 years, between catching, coaching, and managing. While they resided in Quincy during the off-season, it wasn’t until Elvin retired from being active in the league that he, Donna, and their three children: Steven (dec.) ’69, Stanley ’71, and Tamara ’73, came back to live in Quincy year-round. Elvin battled pancreatic cancer, just as his brother had, and lost the battle in October 1998.
Today, you’ll still find Donna watching baseball, always rooting for the Cubs. She also fills her time by watching television and reading books to keep herself sharp.
In addition to spending her days with her family and friends, Donna and the other remaining members of the Class of 1948 get together to hold a monthly reunion at Sprouts to check up on one another and reminisce (Sept. 21, 2022, reunion pictured below).
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