1969 – Spring ’21 Class Letter

1969 – Spring 2021 Class Letter

Greetings, Class of 1969!

Hello from Naples, Florida. Getting through the pandemic is a little easier here since you can do things outside year-round. Still, the only trips Cynthia and I take are to the supermarket, pharmacy, doctor, or dentist. Our life is only marginally less boring than yours. We miss getting together with neighbors, friends and family. So far, there have been only two cases of COVID-19 in our little community of 112 homes and the two people had ZERO symptoms. Yep, never knew they had it, never felt sick. Weird. Also weird, the two others living in their house DIDN’T get COVID-19. The least little things become important during the pandemic. The other night, in a phone call to ART SCARLETT ’69, I mentioned my only venture outside for the day was to get the mail from the box at the curb. ART immediately asked me: “What did you wear?”
Ripon College vs. COVID-19 
Ripon College is surviving the pandemic pretty well. For the 2020 Fall semester, about a third of classes were online, another third in person, and the last third were hybrid (some sessions in person, some online). Ripon started the semester two weeks early, eliminated Fall Break, and finished the term two days before Thanksgiving. Less than 5% of the students were infected (in the middle of a state that had >25% infection rates). Each student had to sign a pledge to follow all the protocol (masks, social distancing, limited indoor groups, reporting symptoms immediately). The College had to scramble to find larger rooms for the larger classes in order to maintain distance between students in the classroom.
The second semester started on January 25, with enrollment at just over 800 students. Classes resumed (still one-third, one-third, one-third), the Commons, the Spot, and Starbucks opened for seated (physically distant) dining and the Willmore Center and Lane Library resumed normal hours of operation. However, everyone is asked to wear a mask, maintain physical distancing rules and adhere to proper hygiene regulations. The results of the initial COVID-19 tests for faculty, staff, and students that took place between Friday, Jan. 22 and Sunday, Jan. 24 were less than 1% positivity rate.  
Out of an abundance of caution, Ripon College decided to do a second full campus-wide testing event on Tuesday, Feb. 8. All students, faculty, or staff on campus during the Spring semester had to undergo a second test. Testing took place in the Willmore Center. Results were almost identical to those of the first campus-wide testing. The College then began random weekly surveillance testing, selecting and testing approximately a quarter of students, faculty, and staff each week. The effort by Ripon College to prevent COVID-19 from spreading has been exemplary. Kudos to President Zach Messitte and his staff. Their hard work is producing excellent results.
Pandemic Collateral Damage
Unfortunately, winter sports were canceled for all schools in our athletic conference. Spring sports are taking place but in a limited capacity and with a reduced schedule. The 2021 Commencement ceremony is still scheduled to take place outside on the lawn of Harwood Memorial Union on Sunday, May 16. Because of continued caution related to the COVID-19 pandemic and the status of public health across the country, each graduate will be allowed only two ticketed guests. Masks will be required and social distancing will be enforced.
Good news regarding this year’s Alumni Weekend. Classes that had Reunions canceled last year are celebrating this year, as are those classes that would normally celebrate this year. Alumni Weekend 2021 will be unlike anything we’ve ever seen with two distinct summer weekends of Ripon alumni programming for us. No matter how you’d like to connect, virtually or in person, the Office of Constituent Engagement is developing a variety of activities to continue to follow CDC, Fond du Lac County and College guidelines in both June and August. Full schedules, lodging, and programming details will be posted soon to www.ripon.edu/alumni-weekend.
JUNE 2021

  • In honor of our June Alumni Weekend traditions, virtual alumni programming will be held Tuesday, June 22 through Saturday, June 26, and will include: an alumni town hall, R Connections webinars, affinity socials, a summer book club, and special recognition of the 2020 and 2021 Athletic Hall of Fame Inductees. 
  • The only in-person event, the Doc Weiske ’50 Memorial Golf Scramble, will be held off-campus on Friday, June 25

A combination of virtual and in-person Alumni Weekend programming will be held the first week of August. We will continue to evaluate the state of COVID-19. If circumstances change at the local and national level and we need to cancel in-person programming, that decision will be made and communicated by July 1, 2021.

  • Virtual programming will be held Tuesday, August 3 through Saturday, August 7 and will include: a reunion-focused alumni town hall that also previews the new academic year, additional R Connections webinars, the summer book club capstone, and the traditional “That Was Then” storytelling session. 
  • In-person, on-campus programming will be held Friday, August 6 through Sunday, August 8, and will focus on alumni awards recognition, 2020 and 2021 reunion celebrations, and other outdoor events such as Rally Run and prairie walk.
  • Additionally, the Class of 2020 will officially be welcomed to our alumni community with a special commencement ceremony.

Additional Semesters for COVID-19-affected Students
Ripon created the Ripon Plus Semester(s) Program to help students enrolled during the 2020-2021 school year. Eligible students with academic reasons for returning will have their tuition waived for their ninth semester or fifth year.
As of February 25, Ripon College had 142 deposits received from students who would enter as first-years in August. This is the class of 2025. (Yep, 2025.) This number of deposits is significantly ahead of recent years. They are shooting for an entering class of 250+ students.
Dollars and Sense
Ripon is considering another five-seven year capital campaign. Typically, these campaigns raise $50 million or more. No decision yet on what the money would be used for. Some feel it should go to the endowment, which currently stands at around $97 million. (Endowment comp’s: Coe $78M, Knox $170M, Monmouth, $122M, Cornell $82M, Beloit $88M, Lawrence $400M.) Others think the campaign should fund a new science and technology center to replace Farr Hall, a facility that was built in 1962. (Computers and calculators were not even invented then, let alone cell phones and iPads.)
Merriman House
Ripon is trying to figure out what to do with the still-shuttered Merriman House. The building is in very poor shape and requires an investment of significant capital to make it usable.
My fraternity, Beta Sigma Pi, has been holding Virtual House Meetings via Zoom once a month. We’ve had as many as 40 guys on at one time. There are about 250 living members for whom we have contact information. I’ve reconnected with some guys I hadn’t seen in 50+ years.
Classmate News – Here’s the news I received from class members. I love hearing from all of you.
FRANK ANDERS ’69 and BOBBI SUESS ANDERS ’69 of Chesterfield, Virginia, send this news: “Bobbi and I are enduring the solitude of a COVID-19 year of discontent punctuated by weekly Zoom meetings both Ripon/fraternity and church-related. Who could have guessed in 1969 that Zoom would one day mean anything other than the speed attained sliding down Upper Sadoff below Bovay Hall in the snow or the roar of Richard Petty’s racing car. There is an ever-evolving dictionary of our language. Remember the Valley Girls and Ebonics? Now we have emojis. Yesterday I woke up and upon reading the New York Times learned that “woke” has somehow added a new meaning that makes no sense. Henceforth I must say that I arose from my nocturnal slumber since “woke” has been usurped. Seemingly educated people continue to follow the herd seeking popularity in catchy new words or uses of existing words. To say that I am mildly perturbed is actually an exaggeration. Who am I to complain or pretend to be an authority, after all, I did not major in English.”
VINCE AYE ’69 of Madison, Alabama, emailed this information: “Glad we had our class Golden R Reunion in 2019 and not 2020! I still have so many great memories from our gathering!! I must have slowed down back in July of 2020 and the COVID-19 virus caught me! First, I was in ICU, under a ventilator for three weeks — the doctors took care of clearing my lungs! I then spent two weeks at Vanderbilt Hospital to rescue my kidney, followed by two weeks at rehab to regain my strength and balance. I’m so very glad to have been delivered from the jaws of COVID-19 without any lingering illness! My new name should be Lazarus! My wife had COVID-19 at the same time also and we were in the same hospital, on different floors! She was in the hospital for only a week! She’s a tougher cookie than I am! I came back home on September 10, after being out of the house for seven weeks. I’m just about back to my pre-COVID-19 health now. 

These days, I’m squeezing blessings out of every minute – reading, writing, cooking, doing fitness, and at times, listening to a whole CD in one sitting! With Alexa I can play music that I don’t have – what a wonderful jukebox! I have this compilation of “1,000 Recordings To Hear Before You Die” book and I’m enjoying so much variety! Family-wise, my wife and I will be celebrating our 50th Anniversary this coming August. Through mergers and acquisitions, our original family of us two and three daughters have grown pretty big! We now have eight grandchildren and also, 1.7 great-grandchildren! I just sing  “… and I think to myself what a wonderful world…”. My heartfelt thanks to Ripon College for Chapter One of my life in America!”   
MARK BAUER ’69 of Pewaukee, Wisconsin, writes: “I am still enjoying the shuttered life of a poet. Shuttered, yes. Poet, no. With the medical background in our family, we believe in masking outside the home and avoid group gatherings. I am still waiting for a vaccine, either from the health organization of my physician or Meijer’s pharmacy. My wife Cindy, a physician in Urgent Care, has received hers; my son, a pediatrician his. Obviously, I am not traveling by plane until I have the vaccine. Everyone is concerned about the new strains already found in Wisconsin. We have been able to eat outside on warmer days if outdoor seating is available or we get the food curbside and head home. We have had our daughter at home from NYC since last March. She is working for a luggage company “at home” with us. We have frequent FaceTime with “remote” families in New York and Phoenix. We have done puzzles, read books, and retreated to our summer condo in Elkhart Lake (Wisconsin) 60 miles north. I also have a new outdoor sport: live-trapping those rascally squirrels who turn my lawns into practice fairways in the summer with disrupted turf and holes for black walnuts (three holes per nut, two remain empty to confuse competitors). The captured rodent is then introduced to a woody haven five to six miles away. Great sport. Mostly gray squirrels, occasional beautiful reds. And, of course, walking in the neighborhood to complete the activities. Aside from that, watching movies on Amazon Prime and Netflix is almost a nightly group function.”
DON CHESTER ’69 of West Palm Beach, Florida, sent this update: “Greetings from Palm Beach County where on any given day you can walk outside your house and find a python in your yard, an alligator in your pool, and, if it’s cold enough, frozen iguanas falling from your trees. Just another day in paradise. Like the rest of the country, the past twelve months have been dominated by COVID-19. The highlight of last year was driving up to St. Mary’s Hospital and not seeing three medical tents in the parking lot. If you have not already done so, I highly recommend you get vaccinated.”
BRUCE DAVIS ’69 of Naples, Florida, writes: “Not much to report. We are enjoying the weather here in south Florida. I play golf two-three times a week and stay home most of the rest of the time. I still work on learning how to play my guitars and have a couple of buddies that also play so we get together now and then. We had a community open mic night a couple of weeks ago and where ten people performed; it went well and those who attended enjoyed it.”
BOB FERNBACH ’69 of Castle Pines, Colorado, sent this: “Stacy and I have been doing little: no travel, no guests, etc., so we have been following news/politics, watching movies/TV series, reading, playing guitars (trying to learn new skills), upgrading our main audio/video system, taking daily walks, and shoveling snow!”
BILL GEBHARDT ’69 of Portage, Wisconsin, sent this news: “SUE HECHT GEBHARDT ’70 and I have officially become Wisconsin residents. We sold our home in Frankfort, Illinois, and have started building our new home on Swan Lake in Portage, Wisconsin. We’re less than an hour from Ripon. We don’t expect to move in until late spring and we are currently getting away from the cold in our Florida condo. Once the house is done we will be in Wisconsin for seven months and Florida for five months. We can’t wait.” 
ALICE HALL HAYES ’69 of Washington, D.C. sent this: “Since our last updates, we have all become more accustomed to socially distanced living in D.C. with masks, hand sanitizer, etc. Fortunately, my husband, Ed, and I have been able to visit our new granddaughter, Josephine, who was born in May 2020. We flew down to New Orleans to meet her and drove back to D.C. – a good way to see the country and to visit sites along the way. I highly recommend a one-two day driving trip back home whenever possible. We stopped at several locales along the way home. In historic Asheville, North Carolina, we toured the Biltmore Mansion, its gardens, and tasted the Biltmore wines. Somehow, we finished 2020 with totally different celebrations for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year. The highlights of 2021 so far have been the Biden/Harris Inauguration and Ed and I getting our COVID-19 vaccine shots. The message for the two of us during these times is patience, appreciation, and valuing family and friends.”
RANDALL KAWAMOTO ’69 of Honolulu, Hawaii, emailed this: “I hope all my classmates are faring well during these difficult times. Although the pandemic has been rough, I recently received an unexpected uplift in spirits by a kind gesture of gratitude. Following graduation from Ripon, I volunteered to serve in the Peace Corps and was assigned to teach English at a girls’ middle school in the port city of Busan in South Korea. I served in Korea from 1970 to 1973. Over 2,000 volunteers served in South Korea as teachers and health care workers between 1966 and 1981. At that time, South Korea was a third-world country stricken by disease​​​ and poverty in the aftermath of the extensive destruction left behind by the Korean War. South Korea is now one of the richest countries in the world. 

Recently, as a gesture of gratitude, the government-run Korea Foundation sent COVID-19 ‘Survival Boxes’ to returned Peace Corps volunteers in the United States. The boxes contained quantities of masks and gloves for use in the pandemic, as well as some souvenirs to remind us of our time in Korea. I received my survival box from the Korea Foundation in December. This gracious gesture by the people of South Korea brought back many fond memories. Peace Corps Volunteers received far more than we ever gave in the countries we served during our years of service. It is an honor to be remembered in this way after 50 years.”    
DAVE LEE ’69 and SUE STEGER LEE ’69 Appleton, Wisconsin, write: “We are doing fine. Our second vaccinations are scheduled for March 1st. It’s been a quiet year – normally we screen more than 13,000 kids during the school year through our Lions Club, but nothing yet this year. I am being treated for prostate cancer. I had radiations last spring and two years of quarterly hormone therapy injections – only three more to go. These injections make one tired and fat, but I finally stopped feeling sorry for myself and started running again and working out at a gym. I have been vegan since last July and have sacrificed nothing with the change. I am beginning to feel the best that I have in years. ALERT for all the men: get your PSA checked annually and watch for increases, even if still in the normal area. 
Sue is doing lots of walking, working out, and is a superb handmade card maker. Our twelve grandkids are growing up too fast. Each of them is worthy of a story, but this time we’ll just talk about our grandson, Ian, who is a junior in high school. Ian just took fourth in Division 1 at state in the 500 freestyle swim with a 4:40. He’s the one who did the Alcatraz Sharkfest swim a couple of years ago. He is about to embark on aggressive fundraising for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society student of the year campaign. Regarding COVID-19, it’s been tough on everyone, but I really feel sorry for the kids. I guess that we had our world turned upside down in the 60s. There were challenging times for our parents as well. In closing, too many of my friends are dying. Let’s all work at capturing some more good years by controlling our body weight, and being physically and socially active. In the doing more for others category, this is a key time to dig down for more generous contributions to Ripon College. Hopefully, everything will be back to normal soon.”
NANCY OLIVER LEIFHEIT ’69 of Sycamore, Illinois, writes “Here we are in the longest year of our lives! DAVE LEIFHEIT ’67 and I have been very careful, staying socially distant, following all the guidelines, yet trying to keep ourselves busy and healthy throughout it all. Summer was so much easier as we could golf, walk, and see outdoor sights and even head to our Wisconsin cabin bringing all our own supplies so we didn’t have to interact with anyone. When this stay at home ends, we will all have to relearn how to interact with real, living, breathing in our midst humans! We have our first vaccines under our belts and are hoping for the second next week. I have rediscovered jigsaw puzzles, completing about 50 so far! We can Zoom into Zumba, tai chi, meetings and sibling Sunday gatherings!
The highlight of this pandemic has been the chance to meet with my seven brothers (including SCOTT OLIVER ’69) and sisters via Zoom every Sunday since last Easter! This has been amazing and now cousins from Scotland and Australia have joined us! After quarantining for two weeks, we flew to Seattle for the month of December to stay with our daughter and visit with our son and his family! We wore masks and shields on the plane, wore masks inside the house for a week, COVID-19 tested before and after we got there made this possible! Dave cross country skis right in our own neighborhood woods nearby daily in this time of so much snow! I’m more likely to stay warm inside! We were given the gift of Storyworth for Christmas which prompts us to write about memories, many of which include how we met and Ripon College! It’s been a fun trip down memory lane!”
PHIL MCCULLOUGH ’69/P’04 of Woodstock, Illinois says: “The COVID-19 situation has made my psychiatry practice busier than ever during the past year. A small group of us purchased a golf course last year and we have been working on improvements and additions.”  
SCOTT NYQUIST ’69 and CYNTHIA SANBORN NYQUIST ’69, of Naples, Florida, want you to know “Scott has a weekly Zoom call with fraternity brothers FRANK ANDERS ’69, RICK BRANDT ’69, ROB HANDEYSIDE ’69, STEVE LEITSCHUH ’69, ART SCARLETT ’69, and MASON SHERWOOD ’68. The group is hoping to resume their annual get-together in October in Siesta Key, Florida. (The one in 2020 had to be canceled.) Scott is looking forward to the start of the 2021 baseball season. Cynthia studies German for two hours each day. She is a constant gardener (you can garden year round in Naples) and also is always knitting and crocheting. In recent months she has been making crocheted or knitted stuffed animals and hats for kids in the cancer ward of the local children’s hospital. We are both enjoying regular video chats with our nine-year-old granddaughter, Emma, who lives in Germany. Some days we each get a dozen texts from her and we are enjoying this while it lasts. We got our first COVID-19 vaccine injections on Feb. 24 and we celebrate 53 years of marriage on Mar. 9.” 
KEN PORTER ’69 and BARB KNIGHTS PORTER ’69 of Killington, Vermont, write: “Barb and I are safe and COVID-19 free. Unfortunately, we have not seen local friends socially since October when we could still meet outside. The Killington Ski Resort has figured out how to keep folks safe so life on the mountain has moved forward with great snow conditions and lots of visitors from out of state. Initially, those visitors seemed a scary thought but the resort has taken precautions, and we are enjoying our winter. We have no plans for travel this next year, but our COVID-19 vaccinations are underway and we have just received our first shots. Hopefully, that will allow us more freedom and we will start to plan at least some road trips. The best part of the winter has been our 15-year-old grandson who has been living with us since Christmas. He is an avid ski racer and his hometown has allowed him to do remote schooling. He is able to do school and then he and “Pops” go to the mountain to make some turns. We love having the company and BARB’s available for help with homework and editing his papers. It’s been a wonderful experience brought on by the pandemic, so we’re seeing positives in what has been a difficult time.” 
CHIP RETSON ’69 of Aiken, South Carolina, wants everyone to know he has a new mailing address. It is: 112 South Park Commons, Aiken, SC 29803-4525.
CYNTHIA KLINGEL SPRING ’69 of Meredith, New Hampshire, sent me this: “I have spent much of the last twelve months learning and unlearning our country’s history. I became the chair of our UU Fellowship’s Black Lives Matter Task Force a few years ago and realized that I would have a steep learning curve to really do justice to the position. So I started reading, watched videos, and attended webinars on racism and dismantling white supremacy. This fall, I began a three-year course (yes, at age 73!) called “Beloved Conversations.” It is a virtual course based in Chicago. Some 1,200 of us signed up! I have become much more aware of the sheltered world I live in and the “safety” my white skin provides. I grew up in a liberal-minded family and attending Ripon certainly helped to keep me open-minded. I was a KD on campus but, because we pledged a black girl and two girls from Hawaii, we went “local” in my Junior year. I was proud of us (still am!) I have also been “puzzling,” watching old Fred Astaire movies and baking. Happy to say that we received our first round of COVID-19 shots!”
OTTO WACHHOLTZ ’69 of Papillion, New England, writes: “Not much change from the last report, though my bride will get her first vaccine shot on February 17th. Maybe we’ll go out to dinner (what we’ve been dying to do) to celebrate after the second shot. We haven’t done that since last March. We have become addicted to jigsaw puzzles, but I think that was also a problem in my last update. I am still playing hockey on the weekends, indoor softball during the week, and I am remaining active in a volunteer emergency services organization. I hope that everyone is staying healthy and sane.”
JOHN WIECHMANN ’69 of Estero, Florida, sends this news: “Just hanging out here in Estero, Florida.”
Sad News
LEE W. MILLS ’69 of Lewes, Delaware, died Aug. 24, 2020. Originally from Hyattsville, Maryland, at Ripon he majored in art and also was on the Crimson yearbook staff for four years, serving as Editor-In-Chief his senior year. He was an art administrator throughout the Washington-Baltimore area, including director of exhibitions at Maryland Hall in Annapolis, assistant director of Montpelier Cultural Art Center in Laurel, Maryland, and interim executive director of the Rehoboth Art League in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. He also worked with the architects and City of Gaithersburg to develop the Gaithersburg Art Barn. His work has been shown in galleries around the country, and he was active in amateur and professional theatre in the Washington area. He and his late husband, Donald Gardiner, owned and operated the Coastal Frameshop and Gallery in Rehoboth Beach. He enjoyed cooking and writing poetry.
MELODY MOLAND KANTEN ’69 of Baldwin, Wisconsin, died Jan. 11, 2021. She received a degree in fine arts from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design and was an advertising executive for Colle & McAvoy Advertising Agency in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She loved animals, living on a farm, downhill and cross country skiing, scuba diving, kayaking and flying. She also enjoyed riding horses, bicycling, walking and creating objects out of wood. Survivors include her husband, Tom.
All You Need is Love
Happy Belated Valentine’s Day to those of you who are still married to someone else in the Class of 1969. There are 13 couples who can claim this status. Best wishes also to the eight people in the class who are still married to a Ripon alum from another class.
Thank You for Your Generosity
A big thank you to all of you who made a financial gift to Ripon College between July 1, 2019 and June 30, 2020. Our class gave a total of $264,830. Only three classes gave more than ours. I hope all of you will consider a gift to Ripon in the period July 2020 – June 2021. A gift of ANY amount is greatly appreciated. Your gift can be given with no restrictions or you can designate where it should be used: Scholarships, Endowment, Faculty, Lane Library, the Arts, Athletics, etc. Your gift can be in memory of a beloved professor or a classmate. Please give what you can.
Three Special Guys
Special thanks to classmates PHIL MCCULLOUGH ’69/P’04, BILL JORDAN ’69, and JOHN WOLFE ’69 who continue to serve on the Ripon College Board of Trustees.
Rally Time
In April every year, Ripon holds its annual #OneDayRally event, kind of similar to PBS pledge night or the old phone-a-thons, only online. This year it will be on April 28th. The goal is to get 2,021 people to make a gift to the College during the Rally. Please consider participating and making a gift that day, even if you already made a gift.
Final Thoughts
Be sure to let Ripon know your new address if you move or if you change email addresses.
Check the Ripon College website for the most up-to-date information on Alumni Weekend 2021 at ripon.edu/alumni-weekend. You can also register online there if/when the event will take place. I want to close by giving you a link to a video FRANK ANDERS ’69 sent to my attention. Please spend 3 minutes and 30 seconds to watch it. You can also find the video by searching “Perspective from someone born in 1900 on Coronavirus and COVID-19” on YouTube.
Keep in touch. Always for Ripon,
7747 Martino Circle, Naples, FL 34112
Home: (239) 732-0523 / Cell: (630) 632-1619 / [email protected]
Your 1969 Class Agent
P.S. If you need an email address or street address to reconnect with a roommate, fraternity brother/sorority sister, lab partner, fellow ROTC cadet, contact me.
TRIVIA: Top 10 Majors of the Class of 1969:
History 40
Chemistry 18
Economics 24
French 14
Biology 23
Philosophy 14
Psychology 22
Political Science 10
Mathematics 20
Art 8
Source: Class of 1969 Commencement Program