DECATUR — Dean Dillon of Gibson City edged Jean Moore, the 95-year-old Decatur champion, to win the Illinois Department of Aging seniors regional spelling bee. Both advance to the state finals Aug. 12 at the Illinois State Fair in Springfield.
In round six at Keystone Meadows on Tuesday, Dillon, the only male entry, correctly spelled “hydrolysis.” Moore, who is blind and lives in Keystone Meadows, missed on “juvenile” to end the competition, limited to age 50 and older.
Dillon, 65, won a contest at Gibson City among 12 spellers to advance to the Decatur showdown. A retired special education teacher, he has won quarter horse races at the State Fair in the past and won the Governor’s Trophy. “Now I’m going back,” he grinned after accepting the Olympic-type medal from state Rep. Sue Scherer, D-Decatur, a contest judge along with Jami Bray, the Keystone Meadows director.
The other spellers were Margaret Carlson of Gibson City, 99½ years old; Joan Bruer of Decatur, runner up to Moore in the May spelling bee at the Decatur-Macon County Senior Center; and Vivian Faulkner-King of Cerro Gordo.
There was a jittery start as all missed words on a practice round and all missed on round two. Pronouncer Sean Streaty of WAND-TV sought to end their fears: “You’re OK. Two misses, and you’re out.”
Dillon went on to correctly spell “lackadaisical,” “surveillance” and “vehemence” before “hydrolysis.”