1979 – Fall ’20 Class Letter


(773) 220-5360 / [email protected] / [email protected]

 Greetings All,

When we last communicated in early March, it was pre-COVID-19 shut down when a mask was something we wore to a masquerade ball; COVID-19 was something strange, and Corona was the beer that you inserted the lime in. Since that time, we have all probably gone from commuting to and working from an office to working remotely from home; Zoom is one of your favorite venues to meet your family, friends, and co-workers to ensure that no one gets the virus and above all, watching reruns of sports events became a substitute for a live game (I’m sure we were all glued for “The Last Dance”). So I have stories from some of our classmates on their COVID-19 pandemic survival.

First, to my knowledge, we have not lost anyone from our class to the virus. I know it’s funny for us, but if you’re like me, you’ve been taking advantage of the “Senior Hours” at the local stores.  Hey, we worked hard for this. I’m glad to know that we are all still here, still at it.

Class of 1979 News and Notes:

DAVID SPENCER ’79 writes, “COVID-19 life: Fortunately in Northern Minnesota, the trails, lakes, rivers, and back roads allow for plenty of social distancing and space to get out on a daily basis. We have not missed much of our former lives except for friends, family, and a sense of comfort in going out. But, we are healthy and can get outside every day: it is enough.”

MIKE ZAHN ’79 writes, “Unbeknownst to him, JAY MCDONALD ’79 helped us decide to buy a Speed Queen washer! My wife looked at online reviews and Speed Queen looked awful. Then we found an enlightening article in Wirecutter that quoted Jay and we were sold. So Ripon connections just never wear out. . .Other than that, I’ve been doing some songwriting and dusting off some old garbage I wrote in college and beyond. My wife continues to raise some lambs and turkeys on our small farm, with some help from me. And we keep efforting to keep connected in our current distantly social world.”

TIM BEAUCHAMP ’79: “Oddly enough, I’ve kept about 75% of my fitness consulting and training client load during this COVID shutdown, training most by remote (FaceTime, Zoom, Google Duo) but some one-on-one in a private gym where we have really strict hygiene rules and the ability to stay at a distance. Still have had plenty of time to work on the house, but I am getting ready for shoulder surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff from a fall this spring. I was looking forward to getting back to the Midwest for some reunions, and still might do a drive out there in the fall depending on how the shoulder recovers, and if we manage to get this damn pandemic under control. And yeah, I’m wearing a mask when I’m around other people.”

 BOB GRANT ’79: “My COVID-19 story -In March I took three months off to self-isolate and I learned a few things. In no particular order:

  • I have a bachelor’s and a master’s degree and it took me two days to figure out how to file for unemployment in Maine. I have no idea how people less fortunate managed. The State website is not optimized for a phone. Their solution: go to the library. Except the libraries were closed. My eyes have been opened.
  • We fostered a Golden Retriever puppy for two months until her forever owners were ready. It was heartbreaking to give her up. We’ll never do that again.
  • My wife and I rebuilt our main staircase in the Craftsman-style. The hand-built newel post and railing came out beautifully. This the fourth house we’ve renovated and we’ve still got the touch.

 During my three-month practice retirement, I learned: sitting still is of the devil and not anything I can do for very long; the pizza place in town also delivers cocktails, wine, and beer; apparently toilet paper is a commodity; carpenters are essential workers (really?); I can still grow my hair to Ripon era length.”

My COVID-19 story began March 17th. That was the last day that I commuted to downtown Chicago. I was due to be off on March 20th because I was scheduled for a radical prostectomy for the removal of my prostate due to me being diagnosed in December with prostate cancer (there’s a story there on how I found out while checking into my hotel in San Antonio, Texas but that’s another time). My office had offered us the opportunity to work remotely from home and my manager insisted that I take advantage of that. So then on March 18th, while working from my home office, I get the call – your surgery, which is considered elective surgery, is postponed. No date was given as to when I could have the surgery. 

So I began doing branch office reviews, virtually. I have not seen the inside of an airport since Valentine’s weekend. Not that I’m complaining, but we had over 100 reviews to be done this year, so being able to do those reviews and interview virtually was both a fiscal savings and a physical savings. So every day, I travel the country virtually, talking to our representatives in offices from Florida to Washington and all parts in between. I have also become adept at cooking. By the way, I did have that radical prostectomy on June 12th. Everything is ok and they got all the cancer. So I’ll be around to torment all of you to write something for this Class Letter!! 

Pray for the College and the students as they continue their academic semester. These kids are facing things that we could never have imagined in our years at Ripon.

 As always, it is a pleasure to write to y’all. Also, when you got news, don’t hold on to it, drop me a note so I can make your Class Letter the best!!!

Love Always,