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Remembering a legend: Ivan Slain dies at 79

Published: Apr 30, 2012

Ivan Slain

Longtime Upland businessman, restaurant owner and Taylor friend Ivan L. Slain died Sunday at the age of 79. In 1965 Slain and his wife Carol purchased the former Wiley’s Drive-In on Upland’s main street, giving birth to Ivanhoe’s.

Slain was a longtime partner with the Taylor community, sponsoring the popular Taylor-Ivanhoe’s Classic each December – a basketball tournament held at the conclusion of the fall semester. It is the Friday evening game that has received international attention in the past two years as Silent Night. During Silent Night, Taylor students, clad in pajamas, sweat pants and other costumes, pack the Odle Arena and remain silent until the Trojans score their tenth point.

Through the years, Ivanhoe’s has been established as an Upland and Taylor University classic. The restaurant’s menu of soups, salads and sandwiches are lunch and dinnertime staples in the community, but it is their ice cream, sundae and milkshake menu that brought national acclaim. With 100 different sundae combinations and another 100 different milkshake combinations, people have driven from around the state to enjoy ice cream in the restaurant’s dining room. So varied and popular are the offerings that Ivanhoe’s has a plaque welcoming the more ambitious ice cream eaters to its 100 Club.

Three years ago members of the freshman class at Taylor combined in a massive shake eating contest to join the club as a class. Parent groups have an event called the Shake-Up. The restaurant is also a popular attraction during Homecoming, Parents and Family Weekend, and Heritage Weekend at Taylor. It is not unusual to see lines backed into the parking lot on a Homecoming Saturday evening, as hundreds of alumni return to campus for reunions and to enjoy Ivanhoe’s menu items.

Last fall, Ivanhoe’s created the TU5 shake in honor of Taylor’s fifth consecutive number one ranking in U.S. News & World Report.

“Over the past several years, we’ve taken Ivanhoe’s shakes to alumni events around the Midwest,” said Taylor alumni director and alumnus Brent Rudin. “We’ve found that Ivanhoe’s is a key component in making these events a success and always brings a smile to everyone’s face when they take their first bite.

One of the highlights for alumni who return to Upland is the stop at Ivanhoe’s,” he added. “Whether their order reminds them that a full taco salad is really too big for one person to eat, or that it is hard to recall which of the 100 shakes or sundaes was their favorite when they were students, Ivanhoe’s sparks great memories.”

Rudin said the Taylor alumni are being polled for memories about Ivanhoe’s as well.

Slain was an Army veteran, serving from 1952 to 1955, and was a member of the American Legion and the Upland Chamber of Commerce.

Survivors include his wife of 58 years, Carol; a son, Mark (Evelyn) Slain, Upland; and grandchildren, Heath and Sarah Slain.

In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by brothers, Arnold and Virgil.

Memorials may be made to Family Hospice & Palliative Care, 705 S. Baldwin Ave., Marion, IN 46953.

A Celebration of Life is scheduled for 3:00 p.m., Tuesday, May 1, at the Jones-Smith Funeral Home, 259 N. Main St., Upland, Indiana. Visitation hours are 1:00 – 3:00 p.m. Tuesday at Jones-Smith Funeral Home.