1965–Spring ’18 Class Letter
Greetings ’65 Classmates,
I am writing in 70 degree weather from Donna and my house in Pensacola, Florida. We were at our northern Wisconsin home for Christmas with my children and five grandkids. However, it was so cold, -20 degrees, that we left before New Year’s.
We will probably go boating this weekend with the temp climbing into the low 80s. We are members of the Pensacola Jazz Society, which organizes enjoyable jazz programs twice a month and the annual Jazz Fest the first weekend in April. For Jazz Fest, my role is to solicit and organize members to work various shifts in the merchandise tent. The two days of great bands is free to the public. It’s a nice venue in a beautiful park setting. There is a variety of music venues and festivals here and along the coast of Alabama.
In June, we have three days planned in New Orleans which is a little over three hours from Pensacola. We plan to see Maroon 5 perform and just sort of hang out for three days. At the end of June we leave Pensacola for our lake house in Conover, Wisconsin and will be there for two months. Our neighbors along the lake have become good friends and they attended our wedding in in nearby Eagle River in August of 2016. Donna and I will once again organize Cousins Camp which is all five grandkids and no parents. The kids love the lake and going tubing behind the boat.
In August, we will spend a few days at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island where we honeymooned in August 2016.
JIM THORSEN ’65 of Idaho Falls, Idaho, writes, “Nancy and I will head north to Idaho in April from our winter home in Tucson, stopping to visit friends in Las Vegas along the way. Summer in Idaho is wonderful, and we’ll play as much golf as possible. This fall, we might take a trip to the U.K. to visit friends like we did last year. A visit from our Japanese Sister City is being set up for the fall, then back to Tucson before the snow flies. Have a great summer.”
JOHN BURROWS ’65 of Jacksonville, Florida, writes, “It is hard to believe how fast 2018 is going by. In April NANCY OSTERMEIER BURROWS ’66 and I will be celebrating 50 years of marriage. We are both healthy, for which we are thankful, and I continue the recovery process from having my prostate removed in September.
We continue to enjoy travel and were just in Sarasota for a long weekend and marveled at how the downtown has grown since we moved in 1974. We have the names of some great restaurants if anyone is going that way.
BARB BERGER LASCODY ’67 and LARRY LASCODY ’65 stopped in for the night on their way back to Atlanta. I tried to show them the benefits of having Netflix, Prime Video, and Acorn TV, but Larry just kept seeing dollar signs. We are most thankful for our time at Ripon.”
DONALD “WIN” RYDER ’65 of Fennville, Michigan, writes, “I really appreciate the time and energy you put into this. I am still working and plan to keep at it. Mary and I are off to Eastern Europe this spring and to Portugal this fall. We still live in Lake Effect Snow Michigan so we break the winter up with visits to Florida, Southern California and Texas.”
JOHN NEWHARD ’65 of Suffolk, Virginia, writes, “We were a little late getting to Florida this year due to my slow recovery from Achilles’ tendon surgery. We made up for it however, by enjoying visits in Sebring, Florida from LARRY LASCODY ’65 and BARB BERGER LASCODY ’67 and RICK WEBB ’66, all classmates from Ripon College.”
JANE PERSON ’65 of Petaluma, California, writes, “It is hard to believe that the Northern California Wine Fires were a little over four months ago. My home and town did not suffer the fires, but neighboring communities had mass destruction. The fires started on a Sunday night about 10 PM. By 2:30 in the morning I had my first ‘can I come and stay with you’ phone call. By five that morning I had six adults, three cats, and one dog as evacuees. One residential area that burned is near two of the Sonoma County/Santa Rosa hospitals (both were closed and evacuated during the fire and for weeks afterward). As such, many medical professionals lived near there and lost their homes I have heard 400 medical personnel—including 200 doctors—lost their homes. Everyone here knows people who suffered great loss.
What warms my heart to this day are the thanks poured out to the First Responders who saved many, many lives, especially in the first 24 hours of the fire. People were in bed asleep. There were no warning signals—mainly people going door to door to their neighbors. The winds were fierce that night and for days to come. Wind in my backyard sounded like a freight train. It was this wind that blew the sparks all over the place, spreading the fire with a fury. Some folks were burned alive in their homes. Signs are still up thanking the First Responders. My community—Petaluma—responded with evacuation centers, restaurants serving food for free, and donations of time, clothes, and money. Petaluma Rocks.
Oh, one more thing—just got home from having lunch with MARY FRASER ’66 and NANCY WADLEY KEOUGH ’67. Great to get caught up with college friends.”
MARY ‘MJ’ KROENING ’65 of Naperville, Illinois, writes, “We just got back from spending the month of January in Naples, Florida. Though it was a bit chilly, it sure beat being in Naperville! Once we returned, it snowed nine days in a row – so much for warm memories! I always take my ukulele wherever we travel. Found a group that meets weekly, so I had a chance to meet some great folks and keep on strummin’ while we were away. Fun!
Now that we’re back, my calendar has filled up with all kinds of stuff. I see all my doctors and oncologists. I can’t believe that it’s been almost 4 years since I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. So far so good. Every day is a blessing. For the past few years I’ve been volunteering at Samantha’s school for a program called Brain Fuel. The kids spend their lunch and recess time with me as we discuss a book. It’s been great – Sam says she loves having me as her teacher!
I continue as worship team chair at our church. We’re having a retreat soon to figure out what a progressive worship service looks like. I love our church. We are small, open and affirming, and quite diverse. John and I were two of the founding members and are so pleased that we’ve created a church home where so many feel welcome and loved.
Next thing on the calendar is my annual trip to Denton, Texas for the Texas Storytelling Festival. One of my mentors, Tim Tingle, storyteller for the Choctaw Nation, will be one of the featured tellers. Can’t wait to see and hear him again! He has taught me so much. The end of May we’ll be heading to Seattle again for our grandson’s wedding. It’ll be great to see so many of our grandchildren (4 there) and great-grandchildren (3, with another on the way.) All are doing well and seem to be very happy.
Wishing you and all of our classmates good health, happiness and peace.”
BOB FLECK ’65 of Columbus, Georgia, writes, “We are looking forward to another Golden R reunion and Alumni Weekend. This last year my wife, RUTH POTTS FLECK ’66, and I visited two Ripon alumni who live in Hawaii. A great time seeing two islands through the eyes of those who have lived there for years. My wife had total knee replacement early this year and is just now (mid-February) able to drive and walk without assistance. We plan on visiting the Green Lake in late March and then returning again in the summer. Along the way we will spend some time at Hilton Head and Pensacola Beach.
I continue to ‘play’ with a lathe and seem to turn some items that are appreciated by others. I am now thinking of getting a third lathe. As anyone who has done any craft knows, you are always just one tool away from having the perfect set up. I am also thinking about doing some part-time teaching at a university.”
CRAIG FERRIS ’65 of Chevy Chase, Maryland, writes, “Hell, no. I won’t go.” That was my immediate response when the love of my life for nearly 43 years said to me at breakfast a couple of months ago: “I think that it is time that we think about selling the house and moving to a condo with an elevator.”
But Nancy was partly right. Living in a two-story house with a finished basement is not easy at our age. Plus she has a problem with her left ankle that she tore up nearly three years ago when I dragged her on a trip by railroad down the ancient Silk Road across the ‘Stans from Beijing to Moscow. Even though it was a luxury train, there was a large gap between the railcar and the platform at the station in Bukhara, Uzbekistan. I said would catch her when she took a large step off the train. But she feared we would both go crashing down and said she would just take a giant step. As I feared, she hit her ankle at a bad angle and fell. Nothing broken, but upon our return to the U.S. she learned that she had torn several ligaments. First a “boot” and then a high-tech ankle brace have stabilized her. But going up and down the stairs is now not easy for her. And I have to confess that I have gotten to the point that hauling the laundry hamper three floors from the second floor to the basement and back up again is now drudgery.
But we have lived in our house for nearly 32 years and want to “age in place.” We have spent a lot or time improving the house and manicuring our garden. The thought of giving it all up and selling was difficult to fathom. There had to be a better way.
Then I spotted an advertisement for a new condo complex nearby with four-story units that have individual elevators. It seemed like the perfect solution until I realized that the price tag was well over a million and we would still lose our garden.
So I “Googled” residential elevators and found several companies that would install an elevator in our house. But we don’t live in a mini-mansion and finding space for a large box-like elevator seemed impossible.
Then I found an elevator that is right out of the Jetsons–a plastic tube inside an aluminum 37″ frame. It’s a pneumatic vacuum elevator–think of the pneumatic tube at your friendly neighborhood bank branch–that will take one of us from the basement to the first floor and on to the second floor all driven by a vacuum pump.
The local agent discovered that there is a clear path from the basement rec room to a corner of the living room and up to a closet just off the upstairs hallway. Believe it or not, Nancy thinks it’s a great idea. The elevator has been ordered and sometime in April while we are on vacation a crew will come in and cut 37 inch holes in the living room floor and the living room ceiling. Then after the dust settles and we return, a crew will remove our front door and install the tube and frame in three one-story pieces that will be bolted together and all connected to a compressor in the attic.
So stay tuned–with luck we get to stay in the house we love and I get to pretend to be George Jetson!”
STEVE PETERS ’65 of Marquette, Michigan, writes, “So far my year has been ruled by my doctors. I had a partial cornea transplant and cataract surgery in my right eye on February 1. At my one-week check the doctor said that the eye was healing better than expected. My vision has greatly improved already and should get better as the healing progresses. The healing period for a partial cornea transplant is six months. Next up is a bladder cancer check to see if any low-grade non-invasive tumors have reappeared.”
RICHARD MENSON ’65 of Dunwoody, Georgia, writes, “I just got back home after spending two months in Florida. I managed to get in 23 rounds of golf. Our oldest granddaughter, a freshman in high school, swam in the state high school swim meet while we were away and my other granddaughter, who is in seventh grade, swam in the state age group meet and made one final. They live in Athens, Georgia where my daughter is a physician. My other daughter works at LSU and is in a Doctoral at Azusa Pacific. We are taking the family on a River Cruise in June from Basel, Switzerland to Amsterdam. Lynne and I are planning a trip to Vietnam to visit many of the places that I saw when I was there from January 1969 to August of 1970. Looking forward to my 50th anniversary of graduation from Northwestern Law School in the fall.
JAMES SEBBEN ’65 of Littleton, Colorado, “About two years ago, my first daughter moved out to live with her college friend in an apartment and the second moved home to attend a local junior college. Last September, the first daughter moved back home when her roommate decided to move home to save money. So now I have two daughters and all their stuff back in the house. Next week we should close on daughter #1’s new townhouse, and daughter #2 will move with her to share expenses. It may take a while, but eventually we will get our household back to some semblance of normal with only daughter #3 at home. I continue with my hobby of making bamboo fly rods and fishing trips. Went to Chile and Alaska last year while this year will be going to Mexico and Panama.”
LEE WARCHUS JR. ’65 of Tyler, Texas, writes, “2017 was a fairly active year with my wife and I moving to a new address in Tyler, Texas, a road trip to Arizona, and spending the holidays with our family. With five children, ten grandchildren and one great grandchild, we feel blessed. Christmas seems extra special with the excitement of the young ones opening their presents.
Last summer, some friends asked me to join their bowling team. After much consideration I said yes and, after over 35 years, picked up a bowling ball. At one point during my first practice game, I fell and went sliding down the alley on my stomach with the ball. This caused my teammates and a number of other bowlers to run to my rescue. After recovering from my embarrassment, I began thinking that maybe I had made a very bad decision joining the team. Well, our team, made up of male “senior” citizens, a 72 year old (lowest average), a 74 year old (me), an 80 year old (who just got married) and a 96 year old (highest average), finished the first half of the season in first place. We feel fairly proud of this, since the league consists of 18 teams of men between 18 and 96 years of age. We are the target of a lot of “age” jokes around the alley, but we have earned a position in the league championship series at the end of the season.
Luckily, Tyler, Texas, even though there was plenty of rain, was not hit by the main force of Hurricane Harvey. The city felt the effects of many refugees and the needs of a lot of recovery organizations headed south to help. Sadly, there are still people without homes as a result of this storm.
Finally, for those who are wondering, Texas is still alive and well. If you ever plan to visit, remember our motto: “Don’t Mess with Texas”
DAVE WORDEN ’65: We welcomed the New Year with great news that we’ll be having another grandchild in Oct., #6! Terri and I have embraced being grandparents and spend a lot of time in California at our Oceanside condo seeing the grandkids in Tarzana and San Diego. We’re excited to be taking a cruise to Alaska this May which will take another check off our Bucket List. We’re staying busy with family, hiking, and golfing, so our health is good. We hope all our classmates are in similar condition.