1979 – Fall ’21 Class Letter

1979 – Fall 2021 Class Letter

Class Agent: 


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

Greetings All,

Just like in our college days when I had a paper due, I’m sweating out working up this Class Letter. It didn’t help that I was under the weather the last couple of weeks, but I’ll muddle through. By now, Ripon has resumed classes and the football team won convincingly using a new offense and new defense! But you didn’t come here to hear that talk- you want to know what’s going on with your classmates, so here it goes!! 

Class of 1979 News and Notes

Class of ’79 Zoom Call – On Wednesday, August 6th, we had a mini-class reunion of sorts through Zoom. Appearances were made by TERRI HOMMERDING ’79 of Crystal, Minnesota, PAM DURKIN CEMEL ’79 of Naperville, Illinois, MIKE ’79 and GAIL GOODRICH ’79 TRACY of Overland Park, Kansas, TOM OAKLEY ’79/P’08/P’25 of Stoughton, Wisconsin, MATTHEW BLAIR ’79 of Lexington, Kentucky (So glad to see and talk to him!), PAUL TESSENE ’79 of Urbana, Illinois, and of course, BOB SCHMITT ’79 of Sun Prairie, Wisconsin. To put it simply, damn good time was had by all!! We will do it again in the near future and those that missed out, better be there!!

LAURIE SANDERS ’79 of Oakland, California, writes, “I survived the Caldor (California) fire!! I got married in February, I’m semi-retired and loving every moment!”

ROYCE DUNBAR ’79 of Wheat Ridge, Colorado, writes, “My wife, Brenda, and I both retired in May. Brenda had over 40 years in a career as an RN. I retired after 18 years at Wells Fargo as an Operating Systems Engineer. We’re planning on lots of travel. I’ll continue to do my outdoors thing – backpacking, fly fishing, hunting. I also plan on composing more music.”

BETH PALMBACH NEMECEK ’79 of Neenah, Wisconsin: Keep Beth lifted up. She still needs a kidney. But in spite of all that, her spirit is still strong!!

JEFFREY GRIFO ’79 of Little Falls, New Jersey, died May 15, 2021. At Ripon, he majored in economics. He worked in New York City’s garment district before a long career as a caddie master for Maplewood Country Club and Crestmont Country Club in West Orange. He enjoyed golfing, traveling, cooking, and jazz and blues music. Survivors include his wife, Laura; and one daughter.

STEVE RASHID ’79 of Evanston, Illinois, and his family were featured in a review/article published March 10 in the Chicago Tribune. Steve, who is a composer, producer, recording engineer and performer, is also the co-founder and artistic director of Studio 5, which is a performing arts center in Evanston, Illinois. Below is a picture from the show titled “Into the Mist.”

Béa and STEVE RASHID ’79 (from left), their son Daniel (on screen) and son Robert sit around the piano at Studio 5 in Evanston on March 9. They are all involved in a livestreaming show titled “Into the Mist” that takes people back to 1927 to visit gamblers, drinkers, flappers, musicians, and other interesting types. (Erin Hooley / Chicago Tribune)


Alumni Weekend:

Alumni and guests from 29 states, including Alaska and Hawaii, were on campus, Aug. 6-8, representing the classes of 1961 to 2023, for the first-ever August Alumni Weekend after COVID-19 put a pause on campus events over the past 18 months. Save the date for Alumni Weekend 2022, which will go back to our traditional end of June date: June 23-26, 2022.

Past Fiscal Year Update:

A record-breaking 2,087 donors from all around the world supported Ripon’s fourth annual giving day on April 28, known as #OneDayRally, reminding us all that regardless of the circumstances, Red Hawks come together. 

Thank you to the over 3,600 donors, including many of you from our class, who supported the College this past fiscal year through the Ripon Fund and other initiatives.

Campus Upgrades:

The McCullough Family Lounge in Farr Hall of Science — a favorite location of students for studying and collaborative work — recently received an extreme makeover with the intent of making the space more contemporary and technologically friendly. The renovations were made possible by a lead gift from Trustee PHILIP MCCULLOUGH ’69/P’04, and his wife, Pat.

Also, a new Data Visualization Lab was installed in Todd Wehr Hall, which will be a great asset for the math and computer science departments. 


Ripon’s endowment recently hit an all-time high and as of Thursday, August 19, 2021, it was at $112 million.

Start of the Academic Year:

Classes started on Monday, August 30 and the academic year is in full swing with in-person classes. The College is continuing to follow CDC and Fond du Lac County Health Department guidelines regarding COVID-19 safety protocols.


Pray for the College and the students as they return for the start of class. 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! Drop me a note so I can make your Class Letter the best!!!

Love Always,