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Presley, Wayman (1896-1990) | Southern Illinois University Special Collections Research Center

Name: Presley, Wayman (1896-1990)

Historical Note: Wayman Presley was born near Cobden, Union County, Illinois in 1896. He was one of six children of tenant farmers James and Gertrude (Baggett) Presley. After completing elementary school, he attended Southern Illinois Normal University (Southern Illinois University Carbondale), and taught elementary school in Union County, Illinois, 1915-1922. After serving in U.S. Army Air Corps during WWI, he married Tressie Rowan in 1922; the Presleys had four children. In 1935 he was named postmaster at Makanda, Illinois. In 1942 he was appointed the lone rural mail carrier for the Makanda territory. He held that position until his retirement from the postal service in 1959. In 1951 he founded the Bald Knob Christian Foundation to raise funds and construct the 111 foot high Cross of Peace on Bald Knob peak, near Alto Pass, Illinois. The cross was completed in 1963. After his retirement Presley founded Presley Tours in 1960 and began to conduct tours throughout the U.S. and internationally. By the mid 1970s it was one of the fastest growing and largest tour companies in the midwest. Wayman Presley died in 1990 at the age of 93.

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