1969 Fall ’23 Class Letter
It’s Labor Day and summer is winding down as I write this letter, although by the continual scorching temps across the country you would never know it. I made it to Ripon for Alumni Weekend in June and saw just a few of you. Hope to see many more of you next year as we celebrate 55 years since our graduation from Ripon. (More on that later.) Here’s the news I have for you about Ripon College along with updates from classmates.
Ripon College Welcomes the Class of 2027
On August 26th, Ripon College welcomed 195 first-year students. An additional 15 transfer students also joined the campus student body, for a grand total of 210 new students. Some interesting facts to know about the new freshman class:
- Gender breakdown is 40% female, 60% male.
- Wisconsin residents represent 64% of the new class, but the class also includes students from AK, AZ, CA, FL, GA, IL, IN, KY, MA, MI, MN, MO, NC, NV, OH, OR, PA, TX, WI) and one country outside the US (Pakistan)
- The makeup of this class consists of 26% diversity.
- 36% of new students are first generation college attendees and 30% are Pell Grant eligible.
- 41 students are coming as part of Ripon’s local commitment award strategy
- The class includes 143 Student Athletes as well as 38 Artists, Musicians and Thespians
- There are 17 Legacy students (family member attended Ripon)
AL JARREAU ’62 Biography Published by Ripon Professor Emeritus
Professor of Music Emeritus Kurt Dietrich recently published an authorized biography of jazz/pop vocalist AL JARREAU ’62, entitled “Never Givin’ Up: The Life and Music of Al Jarreau.” Jarreau is the only person in history to win Grammy Awards in three different categories: jazz, pop and R&B. He recorded more than two dozen albums over three decades and was renowned for his ability to sing many styles, including scat singing and taking on the character of guitar and percussion, all with his versatile and soulful voice. He acted on Broadway in the hit musical “Grease” and appeared on the television programs “New York Undercover” and “Touched by an Angel.” Jarreau majored in psychology at Ripon. When he first moved to California he worked as a rehabilitation counselor for the state of California. He did musical performances on the side until his singing career took off. “He was really under the radar and didn’t sign his first record contract until he was 35 years old. That was almost unheard of even then, much less today,” Dietrich says. “But his lifeblood was touring. He was an arresting figure in live performance.” Kurt Dietrich taught at Ripon for 39 years. He graduated from Lawrence University, received his master’s degree from Northwestern University and his doctorate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. At Ripon, he directed the Symphonic Wind Ensemble and Jazz Ensemble, taught brass instruments and a variety of music courses.
Forever Ripon $75 million Capital Campaign Surpasses $61 million
Ripon College celebrated its second largest fundraising year ever in fiscal year 2023 with almost $19 million in new gifts and commitments. This contributed to Ripon’s Forever Ripon campaign reaching more than $61 million — more than 80% of its $75 million goal — by the end of the fiscal year on June 30, with two years still remaining in the campaign.
Madigan Named Midwest Athletic Conference Athlete of the Year
CORMAC MADIGAN ’23, was named the 2023 Midwest Conference Student-Athlete of the Year for Men’s Sports. This is the first time a Red Hawks student-athlete has been selected for this honor. Madigan was a standout performer in the College’s football and baseball programs and one of the most decorated athletes in school history. A graduate of Laconia High School in nearby Rosendale, Madigan holds six school records. He helped lead Ripon to a 9-1 season in 2022 and a share of the Midwest Conference football championship for the first time since 2001.
On the baseball diamond, Madigan was an All-Midwest Conference outfielder. Madigan’s successes in the classroom and in the community are equally impressive. A chemistry-biology major, he graduated from Ripon with a perfect 4.00 cumulative grade-point average, earning him several Academic All -American Honors. Madigan worked with the Ripon Food Pantry, Murray Park Elementary School, the Ripon Fire Department and the Salvation Army. He also tutored students on campus, helped move College employees into and out of their homes and assisted with high school and junior high school football and baseball camps on campus.
Ripon College to Offer Master’s Degree in Exercise Science
Ripon College will launch its first master’s degree program in exercise science in the summer of 2024. The Masters curriculum will be a 15-month program. The new program will offer three areas of specialization: Physiology, Sports Management, Sports Psychology. A 4+1 program will allow Ripon College undergraduate students to begin taking the graduate-level courses in their senior year and complete the master’s degree in just one additional year after receiving their bachelor’s degree.
RC Professor Is Keynote Speaker at Google Conference About Women Techmakers
Jan Plane, Associate Professor of Computer Science, was the keynote speaker at the workshop “A Deep Dive by EDU Change Makers,” hosted April 27 by Google NYC Women Techmakers at the Google Headquarters in New York City. The theme of the workshop was “Dare To Be.”
Ripon College to Offer Engineering Program.
Ripon College is launching its first engineering program to coincide with the opening of the new Franzen Science Center in 2024. John Sisko, Ripon College Vice President and Dean of Faculty, stated “We are making curricular expansions to meet the educational needs of current and future STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) students. The physical needs of the engineering program as well as state-of-the-art facilities for all of our science programs were integral considerations throughout the entire design process for the new science center.”
As part of the engineering program, the College also is establishing an Engineering Advisory Board, comprising regional industry partners. This advisory board will help optimize Ripon’s engineering program to best suit the technical needs of the region, offer internships and co-op programs to students and ultimately help create a path to employment for graduates.
Median Household Income: $53,304
Median Property Value: $121,800
Poverty Rate: 9.88%
98% of Riponites are US citizens
93.2% Identify as White (Non-Hispanic)
3.14% of residents were born outside the US
3,870 persons in Ripon are employed
No unemployment data for Ripon, but Fond du Lac county unemployment 3.70%
Largest industries in Ripon: Manufacturing, Retail Trade, Educational Services
Alumni Weekend 2024
Alumni Weekend for 2024 will take place Thursday, June 20 through Sunday June 23.
55-Year Class Reunion
I am organizing a reunion for our class on Saturday evening, June 22, 2024 over Alumni Weekend. Please save that date on your calendar and make plans to attend. Hotels in the Ripon area fill up fast for Alumni Weekend so make your reservations ASAP. More info on the reunion as it becomes available. If you would like to help organize the reunion, please contact me. That said, there are room blocks set at Heidel House (reserve at choicehotels.com/reservations/groups/NH19X9) and Cobblestone Suites (call 920-748-5500 to reserve blocked rooms). Additionally, on-campus housing will be available with online Alumni Weekend registration starting April 1.
CRISTA STALEY ELLIS ’69 of Saratoga Springs, New York, died March 14, 2023. At Ripon, she studied philosophy and participated in College Days and Alpha Chi Omega. She also studied graphic design at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago. She worked as a journalist at Lerner Newspaper and The Pioneer Press in Chicago, and retired as a graphic artist from Avco Co. in Clifton Park, New York, in 1988. She was an accomplished painter and potter, showing in art exhibits. She also enjoyed knitting, dying and spinning her own fibers, nature, water, Crosby Stills and Nash, cooking, sewing, babies, barns and driving to Vermont to see the fall colors. Survivors include one son and one daughter.
MARILEE HOFFMEYER SHORE ’69 of Maryville, Tennessee, and formerly of Hendersonville, North Carolina, died May 10, 2023. At Ripon, she majored in German and participated in athletics, student government, music, theatre and Kappa Delta. She earned a master’s degree in library science from the University of Michigan and worked in both public and private libraries primarily in Illinois and North Carolina. She and her husband, Bob, were active in the Little Theater in Hendersonville. She loved cats, who were named after opera characters. She was also active on the boards and committees in churches and other groups everywhere she lived. Survivors include three stepdaughters.
DAVID P. SINISH ’69 of Collinsville, Connecticut, died June 14, 2023. At Ripon, he majored in psychology, participated in music, athletics and Phi Delta Theta, and was captain of the ski team. He was an avid paddler, instructor, conservationist, advocate, speaker, writer and water quality monitor. He served on the board of the Farmington River Watershed Association, as founder of the Connecticut Canoe Racing Association, as an organizer of the Eastern Region U.S. Olympic Whitewater Kayak Trials and as a member of the Farmington River Coordinating Committee, Canton Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Agency, Board of Selectmen and Board of Assessment Appeals. He enjoyed gardening, playing his flute, and building kayaks and wood-strip canoes. Survivors include his wife, Carrie; one son and one daughter.
JAMES C. SPOTTS ’69 of Cape Coral, Florida, died January 2, 2023. At Ripon, Jim played on the Red Hawks football team, and was a member of Sigma Nu fraternity. He lived on Islamorada in the Florida Keys and worked as a dive boat captain and a dive instructor from 1995 until his move to Cape Coral. Survivors include two sons, a sister and two brothers.
NOTE: The number of classmates known to have died is now 34.
Here are the updates I received from members of our class. I love hearing from you guys.
FRANK ANDERS ’69 and BOBBI SUESS ANDERS ’69 of Chesterfield, VA: “We happily announce the birth of our granddaughter, Cecilia Grace Anders, on July 25, 2023. She is the daughter of Frank and Kari Anders and joins their son, Leland Theodore, who was born December 22, 2021.”
MARK BAUER ’69 of Pewaukee, WI: “Life is a series of days and weeks, punctuated here and there by super occurrences or drab non-occurrences. But life is generally good. I have a body-wide collection of orthopedic surgical scars, gray hair and variety of arthritic joints, but still love the light of day and the darkness of sleep without interference of a working profession (paid my dues). Still raising/growing those rascally pitcher plants that help keep the backyard bee population to the barest minimal. I have two grandsons, one a sophomore at Concordia in Mequon, one a sophomore in high school, and both are active in basketball in each school. My delight is watching them compete. They are both just over 6’4” and very skilled. My only granddaughter is a 4-year old New Yorker and struts like a teenager already. Yes, still studying German. It fascinates me. I do look forward to a 55th Reunion. The 50th was entertaining. Isn’t it something how we all change, not only proportions, height and health, but also philosophic outlook and attitudes. I still marvel at how the years have whisked by. I thought it would take much longer to get old. Not much else is really newsy. Fill in the blanks for me.”
TERRY BROWN ’69 of Richmond, VA: “I did go on another trip this year, this one in May was to Egypt to see the monuments and antiquities. After a couple days around Cairo to see the museum and pyramids, we flew to Luxor to cruise around and see the temples. It was hot, in the 90s and 100s; but not as hot as some places in the US recently.”
DON CHESTER ’69 of West Palm Beach, FL: “Like almost everyone else I have been dealing with this summer’s extreme heat to the point where I got heat stroke a few weeks ago. I work out daily with a hand cycle ride around the neighborhood on Saturdays. It is important to note, because of my spinal cord injury, I do not sweat and my body does not accommodate the heat or cold. A couple weeks ago I was feeling great. If 6 miles is good, 8 miles is better. One hour and 12 minutes of exercise in extreme heat is not a good idea. Ended up spending a night in the hospital with a tube in my nose the size of a storm drain. On June 23, I celebrated 50 years at St. Mary’s Medical Center and the Palm Beach Children’s Hospital. Giving some thought to retiring when I get old.”
BOB FERNBACH ’69 of Castle Pines, CO: “Not a lot to report, but Stacy and I got a new grandchild this week — 6 lb., 10 oz. boy, from Stacy’s older son here in Colorado! We went to the east coast to visit family and friends in April/May, and to Seattle and Portland in June to visit my daughter and other friends/relatives. Both enjoyable trips. We have a trip to SoCal planned in October to visit my son and friends, including BARRY MORTON ’69 and Jane Morton.”
BILL GEBHARDT ’69 of Portage, WI: “SUE ’70 and I are both well and enjoying our home on Swan Lake in Portage. Our flowers are in full bloom. We’re currently having our kitchen in Fort Pierce, FL remodeled. Also adding a small kitchen area and bar in our home in Wisconsin. Both projects should be completed in a month or so. In July, we went to Illinois to see our granddaughters participate in a dance recital. They were really terrific.
I played in the 120th annual Pater Filius golf tournament at Midlothian Country Club with our two boys. It’s an alternate shot event. Our oldest son, Matt, and I won the Pro Division. He’s one of the pros at Naperville Country Club in Naperville, IL. Best to everyone. We plan to attend my 55th Reunion next summer. We live only one hour from Ripon!”
ALICE HALL HAYES ’69 of Washington, DC: “We have had a whirlwind spring & summer. The winter and spring were spent preparing for Ed’s and my 50th wedding anniversary, occurring on April 22, 2023. Our children organized a lovely family celebration to recognize the occasion.”
PAUL GELB ’69 from Stirling Castle, Scotland: “I’ve been traveling for a year now. Highlights include three months in Lisbon, three months in London, a month in Italy and a month in Edinburgh, mainly attending the Fringe Festival which had been a long-term bucket list item. With all the International traveling I’ve had little time to play in bridge tournaments but have been playing a little in online tournaments and recently reached the level of Diamond Life Master.”
FRED KIEKHAEFER ’69 of Castle Rock, CO: “I officially retired in 2012; I finally admitted it in 2023. After building a marine propulsion company (in seven years), selling it to Mercury Marine and, then, managing Mercury Racing for 22 years, I moved to Colorado from Wisconsin. I started a small consulting firm, K-Lab Design Works. My first major project was again in marine propulsion: I conceived a variable pitch surface drive for high-performance diesel-powered boats. From concept to design. From design to prototype. From prototype to design refinement. From refinement to second prototype. From second prototype to project termination. Working mostly alone, this took eight years. In those eight years, my target market moved to outboard engines. So, I quit. That was a hard decision. In the midst of this project, my wife, Carol, and I moved to Miami (for the water and boat testing). Then COVID hit. We moved back to Colorado for more space; less restriction. Carol went back to graduate school studying artificial intelligence and machine learning as applied to targeted medical therapeutics. She’s a critical care physician and research scientist, so that makes sense.
Now, I spend time differently. With charities. Since I have a few exotic cars, I donate race track time and show time to entertain and raise funds for Morgan Adams Foundation (childrens’ cancer research), Warrior’s Chariot and Wounded Warrior Project (for military vets, police and first responders), AeroAngels (donated pilots and private aircraft getting sick and damaged kids to specialized, far-away treatment) among others. To keep my creative skills functioning, I am designing and building unique outdoor furniture (like my ergonomic hammock). In other down time, I hang out with three cats and a dog – or go to a gym (typically six days a week). Although voted “least likely to return for a second ski trip” by my Ripon frat brothers, I’m still skiing. I haven’t missed a season in 55 years. Catch me if you can, snow bunnies!”
DEBBIE HAMELE KUKLA ’69 of Long Boat Key, FL: “In early June, my husband, TOM KUKLA ’70, and I met JAN KINGERY BEVERLY ’69 and her friend for lunch on Anna Maria Island. It was a very special reunion sharing past and present happenings. Jan and I were Ripon classmates and Alpha Chi Omega sorority sisters.
Florida feels like home, especially because we see our three grandchildren (12, 14, and 15) and daughter often. Being on the Gulf has opened up so many new adventures from turtle hatchings to seeing manatee and dolphins to magnificent sunsets! In two weeks, Tom and I are headed back to Italy to three of our favorite places (Sorrento, Cinque Terre, and Lake Como), as well as a stop in London, then back to the beach!”
DAVE LEACH ’69 of Chandler, AZ: “After my travels around the US last year and my December trip to Israel, France and England, I came home and started to date, and quickly marry a lady I have known for about five years. We are now Mr. and Mrs. David and Judy Leach. We honeymooned in the RV boondock camping in Northern Arizona and Utah, visiting Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks. If anyone has never been there they are incredibly beautiful and wondrous to behold. Once we got back I moved to Judy’s house in Chandler, AZ (I don’t recommend moving in Arizona in July!). Now we are planning to take a few months on a working RV vacation to Judy’s home in southeastern WI, then north to the lake areas in Northern Wisconsin to the Upper peninsula and back into the lower states to New England for the fall foliage. We’ll visit friends and family along the way and then press on down the East Coast to D.C., Virginia and the Carolinas. We’ll try to see a bunch of sights and points of interest as we go. Then west to Knoxville and down to Atlanta to see more friends and family. Then west and back to Arizona possibly through mid-Texas to see more places and people. We figure to be on the road for two to three months. It should be a great time. We’ve also got a Northwest tour to do some time, but I’m not sure when.”
DAVE LEE ’69 and SUE STEGER LEE ’69 of Appleton, WI: Sue and I are looking forward to Alumni Weekend 2024. Hard to believe that our class falls into the elders group, but if, like me, likely retaining at least some of the wild ass elements of our youth – who am I kidding? Sue and I are beginning to spot vision screen this year’s batch of school kids for our Lion’s Club – at the rate of 13,000 screenings per year, we expect to surpass 100,000 vision screenings by Fall 2024. Sue is a Lion’s zone chair and I am secretary of our past district governors group for Wisconsin. Also this year I am serving as the Lion’s state chair for childhood cancer, which is one of Lion’s five global focus areas – we have an initiative to get donations from all of the 600 Lion’s clubs in Wisconsin this September which is childhood cancer awareness month – those funds will be used to help families of need who are dealing with childhood cancer. Wishing all of our classmates the very best of health and happiness for the coming year and hoping to see a mega turnout of classmates for our 2024 Reunion.
NANCY OLIVER LEIFHEIT ’69 of Sycamore, IL submitted:
“A Class Letter poem”
It is with reluctance I search for the words, similar words to the past,
And know full well, this request won’t be the last.
I feel sure the Class of ‘69
Has spent the year pretty close to fine.
Searching for something new to impart
When Scott Nyquist emails and asks us to start
Thinking about what we did this past year.
Was there anything different, did we go far or stay near?
Are your hips, knees, and shoulders all old or some new?
Did your children or grandkids grow taller than you?
Looks like Farr Hall will be new and the football field, too,
But our memories of Chem Phys and Homecoming we still view
With our minds that are sharp, fully remembering it all,
Getting our credit cards ready when the new students call
To ask us to support our Alma Mater this year,
And we say, “Of course! While we were here,
We earned much more than just an education of knowledge
But gained friendships, camaraderie, and the value of college
Not to mention the era of freedom and exploring of the soul
The water tower, Greekers, the Spot and the Toilet Bowl.
So, Scott, until next year, this is my letter.
Perhaps next year with 2 new knees, I’ll think of something better!
SCOTT NYQUIST ’69 and CYNTHIA SANBORN NYQUIST ’69 of Naples, FL: “As I write this, Cynthia and I are just back from a trip to Freiburg, Germany, to visit our daughter, son-in-law and 12-year old granddaughter. Remarkably, our flights to and from were no hassle and on-time (some even early). Normally, Freiburg has pleasant summer weather in August: 80s during the day, 60s overnight. But this year we had extremes. The first ten days were mid to high 90s. Only about 10% of the buildings in Germany are air conditioned. Then the next eight days were chilly (highs in the 60s) and rainy. But we had a fabulous time. Hadn’t been there since 2019. We celebrated my 76th birthday while there by dining at a Michelin star restaurant. Fabulous food! But the dinners at the beer gardens had great food also. Cynthia got to take our granddaughter, Emma, shopping. They also spent lots of time drawing and painting together, something they both love. Cyn and I enjoyed shopping at local markets, riding the tram around the city. (Freiburg has about 300,000 people.) Prior to leaving for Germany, the weather here in Naples was HOT. Many daily high temp records were broken this year. Hurricane Idalia hit while we were in Germany. Fortunately, Naples experienced only minor weather difficulties and there was no damage to our home.I did visit Ripon for Alumni Weekend 2023 and had a great time. I saw ART SCARLETT ’69, FRANK ANDERS ’69 and BOBBI SUESS ANDERS ’69, plus many friends who are alums from the 60s, 70s and 80s. Attended the memorial service for Seale Doss, and listened to former students and faculty (including Spud Hannaford and Doug Northrop) recalling their experiences with him. Walked the campus and went into every building. Saw the new football field being built. I think the week after Alumni Weekend, construction started on the new Franzen Science Center. Ventured up and down Watson Street and was amazed at how vibrant the downtown area is. Dined at the Fox & Crow restaurant, a new Ripon eatery that has great food. I still participate in a weekly Zoom call with seven other Beta Sigma Pi fraternity brothers. We talk about everything from politics, to sports, to kids and grandkids and a lot of discussion about Ripon. In October, the eight of us will meet for our annual four nights in Siesta Key, FL.”JOHN RICCIARDI ’69 of Raleigh, NC: “Debbie and I have a great year so far. We have managed to stay healthy and out of the doctor’s office! We had a great spring traveling in Switzerland and Italy. Spent two weeks in Lugano where our grandson goes to boarding school and then had the unique opportunity to travel on to Venice with our son and daughter without their spouses or grandkids. It was so much fun getting the original family band back together again! Summer here in Raleigh with the entire family and then off to Saudi Arabia to spend Christmas and New Year’s with our daughter. I hope to make the 55th Reunion next June.”TOM SCHARBACH ’69 of Madison, WI: I spent a day at Ripon last spring. I was asked to record an interview by EMMA SAGARTZ ’23, a drama student who planned to use the interview as the basis for a one-act play she was writing about the experiences of a closeted gay Ripon student in the 1960’s. Emma distilled several hours of the interview into a script, which I’ve read, but I didn’t see the play she wrote. The script was well done and I hope Emma got a good grade. I drove over in the morning, spent an hour wandering around campus, and then headed to the grill in Harwood Memorial Union, where I met Emma. The grill, which used to be tiny, is now large. The food isn’t as good now as I remember it being then, but then, I’m not young and constantly hungry any more. The campus itself has changed a lot, particularly in the area where Dawes Cottage used to be and I had to stop and think for a few seconds to get my direction sorted more than once. Merriman House is gone, and I spent a while sitting on the site, remembering the house and the friends I made during those years. Emma introduced me to several students (bright, energetic and, well, young), including a few who were LGBT. As I talked with them, I realized both how different things are now, and how much the same, as well. Emma took the time after our interview to show me things that are new on campus, including the Rodman Center, which is remarkable. I’ve stopped by the campus a few times over the years when I drove through Ripon for one reason or another, but it was good to spend a day meeting students, and I’m glad I did it.”
BOB “OTTO” WACHHOLTZ ’69 of Papillon, NE: “No significant changes from past years and still trying to adapt to retirement after five years. Still active in two sports though I notice that everyone seems to get faster. Once again “summering” in New Hampshire during September and maybe stay into October to watch the colors ‘pop’.”
JILL ALEXANDER WILLIAMS ’69 of Snohomish, WA: “I feel very lucky my husband, Dick, and I are doing a lot of traveling this year. In February & March we spent 2 nights in Tahiti and then 16 days exploring New Zealand and our two daughters were able to join us. This summer we stayed at a VRBO on Guemes Island and also made a trip in our pop top camper to rustic Shaw Island which is our favorite of the San Juan Islands we’ve visited so far. The ferry rides are so fun. Nature preserves, hiking trails, interesting houses, few people. Living in Washington state there are so many beautiful places to explore. Now we are planning a late October trip to Oaxaca, Mexico.”
Ripon College (and I) would like to thank all of the members of our class who sent a gift to the College in the 2023 fiscal year. The Class of 1969 gave more than $245,000 between July 1, 2022 and June 30, 2023. Some of you donated more than once! Thank you! Thank you! But since only about a third of the class gave a gift to Ripon, there’s room for improvement. If you haven’t donated and would like to give to Ripon, visit the College’s website, or call the Advancement Office at 920-748-8351.
You can give unrestricted, allowing the College to use your gift where most needed, or you can direct where your gift is to be used: scholarships, endowment, faculty, building fund, library, athletics, etc. You can also give in memory of a favorite professor or a classmate. You can give annually or have a gift sent to Ripon monthly from your bank account. Ripon College accepts check, cash or credit card payments. You can also give a gift of stock, real estate or any of your other assets.
Please support the Forever Ripon capital campaign, which is well on its way to raising $75 million. Monies raised by the campaign will go to the new Franzen Science Center and the new football field, as well as the college’s endowment, scholarships and some upgrades to the dorms. As the number of young people turning college age continues to dwindle, the competition to attract these students is becoming fierce. Ripon needs your support more than ever to remain vibrant and competitive.
Keep in touch. Please let Ripon College (or me) know if you have a new address or new email. Make plans NOW to attend the class reunion in June!
Always for Ripon,