Memories of those carefree times clashed with the words Hallene heard in a Cook County courtroom Monday, and sent shudders up his spine: "A grand jury on October 22nd, has returned a true bill of indictment on the count of first degree murder."
Those few words carried significant weight for Hallene. His dear old friend will stand trial for the September 29 shooting death of Jeanie Kustok, his wife.
"When we made eye contact, it was so sad," said Hallene, who drove from Moline to the Bridgeview, a trip of several hours, for the brief court hearing for Kustok.
This wasn't the first time since Kustok's arrest in this case that Hallene had been within earshot of his friend of 40 years . He says he recently visited Kustok at the Kankakee County jail, where Kustok has been held on $2 million bond.
"He's very sad," Hallene said about his jailhouse visit with Kustok. "He's very concerned about his family and kids (Zak, a star quarterback at Northwestern and, Sarah, a television sports reporter for Comcast) "It's a real tragedy. The two children are an example how he and Jeanie raised them."
Hallene, a business professor at St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa, says that during his visit, Kustok asked him for a bible. Hallene says he made good on his friend's request and sent one in the mail.
Kustok's attorney insists that the Orland Park businessman did not murder his wife in the home they shared in an affluent neighborhood in southwestern suburban Cook County.
Kustok claims he awoke to the sound of a loud noise, only to find his wife fatally shot with a gunshot wound to the head. He told investigators, Jeanie Kustok's arms were folded over her body, with her right hand holding a revolver.
According to investigators on the case, Kustok failed to call 911 after finding his wife. They say he waited 90 minutes before driving his wife's body to a hospital in Palos Heights, where it was too late for doctors to save her.
Investigators have not officially presented a theory on why they think Kustok killed his wife of 34 years. But off the record, sources close to the investigation, have reportedly said he was deeply in debt and involved in a long-term extramarital affair.
"It's unbelievable that something like this could happen, that he could be guilty of that," said Adam Kustok, the father of the accused, in court for today's hearing. "We think there's more to this story that hasn't been told."
Two rows up, his sharply dressed grandson, Zak, watched as a haggard looking Allan Kustok walked into the courtroom wearing a jail issued yellow jump suit. Since the last time Kustok appeared before a judge, he had grown a gray beard. He's now wearing glasses, and seems to have lost some weight from the big frame that he once used to his advantage as a college football player at Illinois.
After the hearing, Zak Kustok, with his wife at his side, flanked their attorney, as he issued a statement on their behalf, as well as that of Sarah Kustok, who was not in court today.
"In the image of their mother, Jeanie, Sarah and Zak are going to stand behind their father throughout the course of his ordeal, and will stand by with him until the end."
Allan Kustok is due in court next on November 18th, upon which he's scheduled to be arraigned and his case assigned for trial.