1980 – Fall ’19 Class Letter

Margaret “Peggy” Gero DaValt

608-658-3779 / [email protected]


“History is merely a list of surprises. It can only prepare us to be surprised yet again.”  ~Kurt Vonnegut

Greetings to all of you in the Ripon College Class of 1980! Happy summer 2019. As I sit here writing this on the “last hour” before it’s really due (and I mean really due), I’ve been reflecting on so many things that have affected all of us associated with Ripon College and then with a more thorough thought process. It made me realize that it is mainly about life and how life truly is cyclic.  What came to mind was the notion of Apply shampoo. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. Mr. Vonnegut’s quote does look to the positive and says just be prepared to be surprised again.

SAVE THE DATE (don’t forget … write this down) 

The Ripon College Class of 1980 will celebrate their 40th class reunion the last week in June in 2020.  WOWZA. CAN. YOU. BELIEVE. IT??? Please join me and anyone else willing to work on the Reunion Committee as we look forward to renewing and rekindling friendships and reliving memories (oh, there are so many … right friends??) I hate to beg … but please come back! It will be a blast!

Question for all of you – sharing is caring – go to the Class of 1980’s Facebook page and list three of your top favorite memories of Ripon College – go all out!!  


  • Was it the Toga Party at Merriman House?  
  • Was it a great speaker we had in – like James Doohan (Scotty) our last week of senior year?
  • Was it meeting that special friend (who became your life partner?)


Be brave.  Plus, if I see this on the FB page, then I’ll know you read this letter. 

News in and Around Ripon

News Flash – Just in Today (July 17, 2019)

Important update from Ripon College and the Office of the President (for those of you who don’t know, President Zach Messitte has been on sabbatical in Italy and Vice President and Dean of Faculty Ed Wingenbach has been acting as the Interim President since the beginning of 2019). 

Dear Alumni and Friends, 

I write to share news that Ed Wingenbach, vice president and dean of faculty, has been named the eighth president of Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts. His last day on campus will be Aug. 1.

Hampshire has made a phenomenal choice to lead them through this important period in their history. I have no doubt Ed will do great things for them as he has for Ripon since arriving here in 2015. 

We are grateful for Ed’s significant contributions during his tenure at Ripon, which include working with faculty to create our innovative Catalyst curriculum and, most recently, serving as the acting president while I was on sabbatical last semester. 

I look forward to meeting with members of Ripon’s Faculty Advisory Council immediately to start the process of identifying an interim dean from amongst the Ripon faculty. This will be followed by the creation of a committee to lead a national search for Ripon’s next vice president and dean of faculty. 

Please join me in thanking Ed for his incredible work at Ripon College and this milestone achievement. We wish Ed, his wife Susan and their children all the best in their journey ahead.


Zach Messitte, President and Professor of Politics and Government

Julie Johnson, former athletic director, passed away June 13, 2019  

Julie Johnson, the former athletic director (after our time at Ripon College) passed away having lost her battle with cancer.  Please take a moment to check out this incredible tribute to her and her tenure at Ripon College. In her 24-year career at Ripon, she really made a difference.  While I did not know Julie personally, I wish I had. Her incredible spirit was infectious and launched a whole new era in women’s sports at Ripon College. Having worked at Storzer for three of my four years at Ripon, I loved that place and all the sports did for each of us as individuals as well as the College. Thank you, Julie Johnson, for your zest for life and for your joie de vivre. May your successes on this earthly plane be remembered for years to come.  


Class News

As many of you may have heard, our class co-agent, JEFF PENNEY ’80 resigned from his post. He helped me by providing another spin to life’s journey rather than mine (which is good). I would like to extend my sincere appreciation and gratitude for Jeff’s contribution(s) to Ripon College through his volunteering to be a co-class agent. I wish you all the best in your life endeavors, Jeff, and THANK YOU! I appreciate the difference you made for the Class of 1980.

“We must find time to stop and thank the people who make a difference in our lives.” ~John F. Kennedy

Jeff shared this with me when I quickly asked for Class News and Notes: “My son just got engaged in the hills of Colorado. Although he was accepted to Ripon, he chose to go to, faceless, mega university MSU. In addition, my daughter is going to Africa to serve a foundation that serves orphans through AIDS. Proud of both of them.”

JENNIFER FISCHER ’80 of Holyoke, Massachusetts, a registered nurse with a degree in law as well as in management, was named to the new position of chief experience officer at Holyoke Medical Center in February 2019.


JAMES D GREENEBAUM ’80: “My dog, Sparky, is 15 years, 9 months old.”

BILL QUISTORF ’80 of Everett, Washington, chief pilot with the Snohomish County Helicopter Rescue Team in Washington state, received the German-American Friendship Award, presented by Honorary German Consul Uli Fischer. Quistorf was among the crew who rescued a stranded hiker and German citizen on the Pacific Crest Trail on Oct. 27. The hiker was hypothermic, frostbitten and in trouble in the Glacier Peak Wilderness in the Cascade Range. The story gained national and international news attention.

SUSAN ANGEL SCHMIDT ’80 went back to school this year.  She attended dog obedience class with her new dog Topaz.  Susan was the student while Topaz was her sidekick. She is happy to report that Topaz’ behavior is getting better. Both can be taught!

JENNIFER SPARROW ’80: “My youngest is at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh.  Checked “find my missing son” app to see his phone in a house kitty-corner to Tri-Dorms. One of his best college buds was throwing a party. Closest he ever got to Ripon.”

Thank you all for the information you share! As always, there is the FB group (here’s the link again, in case you really do want to sign-up and join us). It’s FREE! 

The link to ours is here:  https://www.facebook.com/groups/283209381878413/)

Don’t forget: Our 40th Class Reunion will be one year from now.  

SAVE. THE. DATE.  June 26-28, 2020! 

I hope to see lots of you there!

To Ripon College,

JEFF PENNEY ’80 (One. Last. Time.)