1965-Spring ’19 Class Letter
Greetings ’65 Classmates,
Donna and I enjoy our days in Pensacola for a variety of reasons. Recently with all the news about the terrible storms, wind and snow/icy roads occurring across the country, our consistently mild weather here is wonderful. However, our lake house in Conover, Wisconsin is buried in snow and Donna’s mother, brother and son in Kansas City, Missouri just had a snow storm. We get together with my sister JEANNE HYDE HUMKE ’67 and her husband, my frat bro, RETT HUMKE ’65 either at their lake house just north of our Conover house across the Wisconsin border into Michigan or at our home in Pensacola a few times during the year.
It is almost time to put the boat in and also use the pool here. We enjoy the Pensacola Jazz Society events here and the relatively close locations for doing many things along the coast here. We drove to Tampa to see Michael Buble in February and spent an evening with one of Donna’s old friends and her significant other. This summer we will spend a month at our Conover home and organized maybe the last year of Cousin’s Camp which is week of activities with my five grandkids.
We saw Celine Dion and Beatles LOVE and others while in Vegas. We spent most of our time in various casinos. Every shop and restaurant you can think of is found in Las Vegas casinos.
DICK BENNETT ’65 conveyed a pride regarding his son Tony who is currently have a great year as the basketball coach for the University of Virginia. We met Tony who attended one of reunion dinners about ten years ago. Dick spoke highly of the marvelous new Willmore Center at Ripon and how the athletic teams were doing. He commented on how he missed his departed Merriman friend and alumni trustee, MIKE REESE ’65. He says he enjoys reading, especially Faith based and nonfiction books.
In talking with CRAIG FERRIS ’65 his nature to understand the history of an issue became apparent. In describing how he and his wife, Nancy, took a cruise from Miami, Florida, to San Francisco through the Panama Canal, he described some of the history, with the failures in the building of the canal. In this class letter, Craig wrote a wonderful article about GREG THOMPSON ’65, a classmate of ours who passed away last November.
JOHN BURROWS ’65 of Jacksonville, Florida, writes, NANCY OSTERMEIER BURROWS ’66 and I remain in good health. I continue to be active during the day doing various chores around the house and then become a couch potato in the evening watching Netflix or Prime Video.
We both do Pilates (different times) and know it has to be good for you. I also walk nearly every day and continue with my volunteer work: driver for meals on wheels, cooking at a large homeless shelter, donating blood, and volunteering at our church.
We still enjoy traveling. We just returned from Oregon where our son lives with his wife and 2 year old son (our 3rd grandchild). You forget just how active a 2 year old child can be. Next trip will be to Disney World in Orlando. We have found it a great place to visit and enjoy the amazing restaurants. As a general rule, we do not go into the actual parks but try to walk everywhere. We will also be going to London in the early summer.
Spring cannot be far away. Our Azaleas are beginning to bloom and the temperature is in the upper 70’s. Our best to everyone.
BARBARA BRADFORD SEWALL ’65 and TED SEWALL ’66 of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, took a delightful Holland America trip in the spring with friends of theirs. Both of their sons, TOM ’93 and GREG ’95, who also attended Ripon, are doing well. Ted often goes hunting with Greg who bought a small farm for bow hunting. They spend part of April every year, away from the snow in Wisconsin; at a place they rent in Venice, Florida where their children and grandchildren join them.
DAVID MEISSNER ’65 is still enjoying life and gardening (and retirement from Alfred University) in Western New York with trips to the Caribbean Islands in winter, and our Family Home on Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire in the summertime.
KEN MAHER ’65 writes, “Now retired after selling my pension administrative services business two years ago. I am spending January through March in my home in Queen Valle, Arizona, and the rest of the year in Coventry, Connecticut.”
I am playing lots of golf with my significant other Dee, even though she usually out drives me. I have been taking courses at two state universities towards a Masters in Sociology and Data Science. I may use this combination to launch new career. When I’m not golfing or studying I enjoy working on the Connecticut house.
RICHARD MENSON ’65 of Dunwoody, Georgia, writes, “On January 6 of this year, it was 50 years since I landed in Vietnam to start 20 months of in country service as a JAG officer. I arrived later than a number of those in the class of 1965 since I went to Northwestern Law School in Chicago graduating in 1968. Since then I have participated in trying to help Veterans through the establishment of Veterans Legal Clinics at various law school in Georgia after I moved to Atlanta in June of 2007. All of us who were commissioned in the class of 1965 did their service proudly. In what is going on in my life, my wife and I are visiting Cuba in the fall with stops in Havana, Santiago and other places. While we are in Havana we are going to the Tropicana and in Santiago, visiting San Juan Hill. We are traveling to Tacoma, Washington to visit my daughter who took a position at Pacific Lutheran College along with following my grandchildren who swim with the Athens (Georgia) Bulldog Swim Club.
CAROLE COOP ATHERATON ’65 of Redmond, Oregon, enjoys traveling and has done so in interesting locations in the world. She saw MARY SHIRER KROENING ’65 in Naperville, Illinois. She commented that her significant other, Malarkey, is recouping from a bad fall on the ice, resulting in a compound fracture near their home in Oregon. He is an interesting and bright person who I met at a past reunion. Coop is always full of energy when you engage her in conversation.
MARY SHIRER KROENING ’65 of Naperville, Illinois, writes, “John and I spent the month of January in Naples, Florida, and wish we were still there! Thankfully, we missed the really cold snap here in Naperville. Now that we’re home, I enjoy cuddling up with my books since I’m in 3 book clubs. I still serve as chair of the Worship Team at HOPE Church. It’s such a welcoming place – very diverse, very progressive. Over the years, I’ve met such interesting people and have learned a lot about people and their challenges as they search for love and acceptance. Our ukulele band has a number of gigs coming up, one of which is a fund-raiser for the families of victims and first responders in Aurora. When will these mass shootings stop? I’m glad that we can do at least a little something to help. I’m planning to finally get my right knee replaced in a couple of weeks. The recovery won’t be fun, but the expected results will motivate me to do the work. I passed my road test last week – yay! Haven’t had one of those for 60 years! That’s about it for me!
DAVID WORDEN ’65 of Scottsdale, Arizona, writes, “Terri and I have dividing our time between California and Arizona spending time with grandkids and the rest of our family. We welcomed our 6th grandchild the end of September and are truly blessed to have such a big family. Looking forward to our vacation to Victoria, BC, in May and short trips to the coast in between. Hope all our classmates are well and we look forward to hearing their news.
JIM THORSEN ’65 of Idaho Falls, Idaho, writes, “We are planning a trip to Normandy to observe the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion. Our grandkids are playing in one of 12 high school and college marching bands selected to represent the U.S. at the ceremonies. After the event, we are going to see our friends in Scotland. As an aside when I was the Manager of one of Louisville’s airports, the director had been on the meteorological staff on General Eisenhower, and was active in advising General Eisenhower to delay the invasion from the 5th to the 6th. Interesting fellow, to say the least!
CHAD NELSON ’65 of Plymouth, Minnesota, writes, “Not much has changed in our lives; just noticing that the time is going by faster and faster. We still make regular trips to Aspen, Colorado, to visit our son and his family. (I keep meaning to look up classmate TOM BUESCH ’65 when we are in town, but our son, his wife and our 3 granddaughters keep us busy — even though we frequently stay for 10-14 days at a time.)
We have tried to get away from the Minnesota winter, but, so far, our timing has been poor. We went to Las Vegas in January but got back in Minnesota just in time for a cold spell. We are getting ready to take a cruise to Cuba this week; looking forward to learning about the culture… and experiencing the warm weather!
Best to you and Donna, and our fellow classmates.
KARL BERES ’65 of Ripon, Wisconsin, writes, “Diane and I made our umpteenth trips to Costa Rica this past January. Two back-to-back trips: A cruise through the Panama Canal and up the Pacific coasts of both countries, followed by a birding trip through southern Costa Rica. Had a great time, and I didn’t even take my cane. Meanwhile, Diane is teaching three 6th-grade math classes as a long-term sub.
JUDY DU FRÊNE HALL ’65 writes, “I’m sitting here in a borrowed casita in San Miguel de Allende, GTO Mexico. It is 84 degrees out and clear blue skies.
We have been coming here for over 20 years, and now have even more reason as our daughter, Chandra and her husband and our grandson, Nicholas, moved here a year and a half ago to escape the corporate world of Seattle. Bill and I have really enjoyed being in the same town with them. In November, our other daughter, Allyson, and her family of husband and 3 teenage sons came from North Carolina for Thanksgiving and to celebrate my 75th birthday. We had 5 lovely days and introduced them to San Miguel. When we are not here we are in California and/or Minnesota.
Last summer we spent 6 weeks in Europe with a cruise over, a cruise to St. Petersburg and a couple weeks around Hamburg and Berlin. How fortunate we are!!
JOHN NEWHARD ’65 writes, “Sharon and I are enjoying watching the University of Virginia basketball team coached by Tony Bennett—Dick Bennett’s son and I am recovering from a right knee replacement-slowly.”
JOHN WHEELER ’65:
My undying gratitude to Ripon for all that it has given to me.
I have been putting John H. off on his request that I provide him with a few lines for the class of ’65 newsletter. I figure that my personal news is always mundane and boring. Finally, I decided to think about what Ripon has meant to me and to express the gratitude that I feel toward everyone that played a part in my time there, regardless of how small and inconsequential it seemed to them at that time; not just “what” happened, but more importantly, “why?”
I wanted to answer this question of “why” for myself. All this is driven by my positive feelings about my “Ripon Experience” and the impact that it has on my life. It includes people that I am still close to all the way to people that have no idea that they even left the minutest impression on my thinking.
There are very few decisions that I have made that I am sure were the best possible decisions that I could make at a critical point in my life. For me, the most consequential was choosing Ripon. When you take into account that I made that choice 58 years ago, long before I had the maturity and the intellect to comprehend how pivotal this choice would prove to be, it seems like a miracle.
I want to express my gratitude to everyone who helped make my journey from Scott Hall to retirement so rewarding.
I especially want to honor GREG THOMPSON ’65 who was there with me and for me every step of the way, until his passing on November 15, 2018.
CRAIG FERRIS ’65 writes reflections on GREG THOMPSON ’65 who passed away last November and had a passion for flying.
Most of the 14 freshmen members of Sigma Nu at tiny Ripon College in Wisconsin had one thing in common. They had no idea what they wanted to do with their lives.
The one exception was Greg. He just wanted to fly. And he did so at every opportunity.
As a freshman, Greg was a bit of a celebrity. As an Air Force brat, he joined flying clubs at bases where his father was stationed and had a private pilot’s license before he had a driver’s license.
One tradition of fraternities and sororities at Ripon and other colleges was so-called Hell Week which is a hazing of freshmen by the sophomores. It takes place at the end of the first semester when new pledges spent a long weekend engaged in bonding including never-ending all night treasure hunts that consisted of walking back and forth from one side of town to the other looking for clues.
Part of that tradition was to capture the chief “Heller,” usually a sophomore, and drive him as far away as possible and leave him with only enough money to make a phone call to arrange transportation back to campus. The goal was to try to make sure that he didn’t get back until the weekend was over so he could not make our lives miserable.
But we had a better idea—since we had Greg, our own pilot, we decided to fly the Heller as far away as possible. We each contributed $5-$10 apiece and Greg made arrangements to rent a 4-seat plane at the small airport 20 miles away in Fond du Lac. Some of us suggested that we fly the Heller across Lake Michigan to a city or town in Michigan and leave him, thus guaranteeing that he could not get back before the weekend was over.
But Greg, despite wanting to take every opportunity to fly, said “no.” There was too great a risk that the plane could be forced down into the icy waters of the lake. So we settled on flying the Heller to Freeport, Illinois, some 250 miles south and left him in the snow at the end of a desolate runway. Needless to say, he was back in about 8 hours.
As the semester went on, Greg would talk many of us into flying with him for an hour or two when we could scrape a few dollars together to rent a plane.
During that spring, Greg also became the official pilot of the college debate team. Speech Prof. Howard Hansen and two members of the team, VERN CRONEN ’63 and DICK JOHNSON ’62, were scheduled to go to a debate tournament in Iowa. Greg convinced them that he could rent the plane, fly them to the tournament and save money and hours that would be spent on the road.
Greg had elaborate maps and carefully charted his course. When he got close to the location of the tournament he couldn’t see the airport. Remember, in those days you flew by dead reckoning and followed a radio beam. The map showed a large water tower and the airport was supposed to be nearby, but he could not see the runway. He radioed the airport control tower which finally told him to fly around the water tower and see what name was on it. It turned out it was the wrong town. He was off course by a few miles. He corrected his position and landed at the airport. But Greg said later that Prof. Hansen looked at him as if he was having second thoughts having a debate team pilot even though the professor and the two members of the team introduced him to others at the tournament as “their pilot.”
Our sophomore year before so-called rush week when fraternities were trying to recruit new members, Greg convinced his fellow members to rent a plane so he could “bomb” the campus with hundreds of ping pong balls stamped “Sigma Nu Open House” to get as many frosh as possible to attend. Even though it was a windy day, Greg managed to dump the ping pong balls and get them to land close to Scott Hall, the freshman dorm.
I remember that my junior year when I was the editor of the college newspaper I told Greg that we had a decent budget both from the student activity fund and from advertising. His eyes lit up and he immediately suggested that we rent a plane to take aerial photos of the campus. That prompted an hour and a half of buzzing the college so the paper’s photographer, who had never been in a light plane before and had a queasy look on his face, could take wide shots of the campus. We printed the photo in the next edition with a line that credited the photographer and added: Aircraft by Greg Thompson. Greg had that photo pinned up on his bulletin board until we graduated.
You know the rest of the story—he earned an MBA from the University of Washington and worked for Boeing. Then he discovered that banks were looking for a way to move checks for millions of dollars from banks in wheat-growing areas in eastern Washington to the Federal Reserve in Seattle. That triggered a part-time job that involved his passion—flying—and eventually led to his founding and owning the very successful Seattle-based Airpac Airlines with a fleet of turboprops that forwarded to smaller airports everything from cargo from UPS and Fed Ex down to medical transplants.
We all have disappointments. Greg wanted to fly for the military and perhaps for a major passenger airline. But he prospered from what grads of most liberal arts colleges thrive on. Take what you have and build on it. Greg followed his bliss—flying—and truly found a life well lived!