1980 – Fall ’20 Class Letter


608.658.3779 / [email protected] / [email protected]

What Did We Do During COVID-19? Inquiring Minds Want To Know!!

There has been so much that we have all endured since March of 2020, when the world that we all knew and loved, suddenly changed overnight. For those of us who are still in the workforce, life changed. For those of us who are huge sports fans, life changed. For those of us who have hobbies that allowed us to travel all over the US, life there changed. For those of us who loved to travel abroad and domestically, that changed as well. The overall theme is that life changed.  Long ago and far away, my dad, Bob Gero P’80/P’82/P’84/P’85, shared with me one day, when I was lamenting something that “the only thing that is constant in life is change.” Truer words have never been spoken. Thanks, Dad, for those words of wisdom. I am going to keep any more of my thoughts on the COVID-19 life we live to myself as there are outlets for all of us to discuss the pros, the cons, the ins and outs of it on social media or amongst each other. I would like to think that if we are adults about all of this, we can agree to simply disagree on anything related to this current life we’re all living now.

As you all know, we were to have celebrated our 40th Class Reunion during Alumni Weekend 2020. Chalk that up to another “life changed” event. What did we do? We had some fun!! Since I work in technology and spent many days early-on in during the COVID-19 crisis, setting up Zoom meetings, Skype for Business meetings as well as GoToMeetings, it quickly became apparent that we could do weekly Zoom meetings leading up to the Class Reunion.

The Ripon College Class of 1980 has a Zoom Room that I host and own (my contribution to any of you that wish to join) – and we refer to it as the Ripon College Class of 1980 Digital Hot “Spot” – (for those of you that forgot…the “Spot” was a place to go and I have a small jetpack (country life) that is referred to a digital hot spot…so…once you’re done moaning, let me share what we do.

Back in April we started with our weekly meetings. They start at 8:00 p.m. on Wednesday nights and go to 10 or 10:30 depending upon our discussions and how tired we all are.  I am going to salute my partners in crime on this – THANK YOU all for doing this with me. It really has made me get through this difficult time we live in and it’s just been plain fun!! Fun is good!!

We have had many laughs, total outrageous things happen – I’m thinking of a comment about a “burner phone” that caused us to just not stop laughing.  In a story that JEFF PENNEY ’80, BERT KOHLHAGEN ’80 and KATHY GOODBOUT ’80 were discussing – how the Theta Chis would need help getting ready for formals, Jeff shared this quotable quote, “We needed Garanimals for men.”  Let’s not forget the excitement of my wild house…complete with the occasional winged attendee (i.e., a bird that flew in the house while I was chatting…not to mention a bat, as well as a snake that have visited….not all when Peggy’s been on the Zoom room).  

Regular Attendees – 

PEGGY GERO DAVALT ’80 – I am considered an essential worker at the State of Wisconsin, Department of Health Services working as an IT professional for Central Wisconsin Center (CWC) and Mendota Mental Health Institute (MMHI). She will have 29 years in working for the state in September of this year. I do not plan to retire yet, and am looking more at my dream of building a new home. My mom, Anne Gero P’80/P’82/P’84/P’85, passed away in October 2019 at the age of 88. I still raise and show Gordon Setters and have been recently re-appointed to the Gordon Setter Club of America, Inc., Board of Governors. My youngest sister, RUTH ANNE GERO ADAMS ’85 – was going to be awarded one of the Distinguished Alumni Awards during Alumni Weekend 2020. We had been planning to make this a family outing where all four of us would be at Ripon at the same time. My brother, PAUL GERO ’82 and his family, have returned to Lake Mills, WI where Paul did an amazing photographic study he called, “Portraits in the Time of Corona” that was featured on area TV stations. My other sister, MARY GERO GRONHOLZ ’84 and her family also live in Lake Mills and they spend time with Paul and his family. Mary is in charge of her Mary Kay Unit where she is the Senior Cadillac Sales Director with Mary Kay. She has worked for Mary Kay for 29 years. We all miss Mom and we all know that she had a deep love for Ripon College.

KATHY GOODBOUT ’80 – Kathy retired on May 1, 2020 from Dominican University where she worked for 40 years in the Admissions Office. 

ROBERTA KOHLHAGEN ’80 – Bert is still working for the Rockford Park District in Rockford, IL, where she has been for 15 years. Her duties are wide and varied and now with COVID-19 around, it has been interesting to figure out who plays what team, who CAN play what team, where is the compressor when you need it? It’s pretty crazy most days. They have not had ice since May, however, they are hoping once the compressor is fixed then they can have lessons again.

JEFF PENNEY ’80 – Jeff sent me this information to publish in this edition of the R-Connection.  Jeff makes frequent stops to the Zoom Room. I think the first time he arrived, it took us all about 20 minutes to get him completely set-up properly.  ☺  Gotta love technology, right?

Here’s Jeff’s message to me – 

Peggy, I want to tell you about the great 40th reunion that I had this June. It was a gorgeous Wisconsin summer weekend. White billowy clouds drifted over Rodman creating a postcard scene. It was Saturday afternoon and another renewal of the spirited Alumni Lacrosse game was taking place. This bunch of geezers reliving their glory day never fails to entertain. Between the huffing and puffing and the celebratory cheers of goals scored, a faint murmur wafted up the hillside where the thousands of fans were cheering. Excitement built as a few people started to make out the sound? The vibe in the crowd grew as did the sound, still, some could not hear it well. What could it be!  Finally, as the speed of sound crested the lip of the curb by Bovay, the sound was unmistakable; it was the trademark of Ripon Lacrosse, PEEB (BILL SCHNESE ’79)!  Many cried from the pure emotion of the moment. Afterward, the players and the thousands of fans mingled and talked. Soon some adult beverages made their way onto the hallowed grounds and there was a great joy. The camaraderie, memories, laughter and hope continued into the Class dinners and onward throughout the night of immense revelry. All eventually passing out from the revelry of the Blessed Cow or the excitement of a great time. It was another classic Ripon party. When I woke the next day, to my heartbreak it had been just a great and vivid dream. The realization that that great weekend just didn’t happen was an extreme disappointment of epic proportions.Throughout the entire day, I was filled with melancholy, but for the life of me, I could not explain why I had a smile on my face.

KEVIN WARMACK ’79, KENNETH P. CAMPBELL ’82, and CATHY LATHROP HAGER ’82 join as they can. Thank you for joining the Class of 1980 on our Zoom Room meetings!

The week of the reunion, we opted to start the Zoom meeting a bit earlier and we had DEBBIE ALLEN SHEPERD ’80 stop in from Florida where she is at the moment. It was great to talk to her and to hear how she has been doing since she left Ripon in 1978, I believe she said and headed to the University of Texas at Austin (I think). 

A regular for a few weeks was SARA MAURER ’80 back in Wisconsin to visit with her dad. Sara has been retired for a couple of years and Kathy, Bert and I had great visits with her for the time she was back in WI. Thanks Sara for joining us. Hope all is well back in Alaska. It was great to visit with you.

Last week, LISA HEIMLER ’80, joined us (along with KATHY GOODBOUT ’80) as they were in Wisconsin doing their own “State Fair Gathering” which I’ll share more about in a bit. Lisa just retired from a career as a physical therapist in a nursing home in the greater Chicago area.

Thank you to all the Zoom Room folks who stop in to visit. It is fun and just in case you want to join, here is the permanent link to the room.

Weekly Zoom Meetings on Wednesday nights at 8 p.m. CDT.  (ANY Ripon Alums are welcome to join). Questions call me at 608.658.3779


Meeting ID: 860 2207 0250 // Password: 733821

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Other Awesome News From Classmates

TOM JACKSON ’80 – shared this with me – “Hi Peggy!  Quick update – I recently retired after a wonderful career in analytical chemistry – helping preserve memories at Kodak, moving the future of transportation forward at GM’s Hydrogen Fuel Cell research center and finishing by working at the University of Rochester (NY) Medical Center developing methods to measure lung cancer biomarkers. Now Deb and I are traveling and enjoying retirement!”

CHARLOTTE POHANKA SPARROW ’80 – shared her news with me – “Hi Peggy – How about – still living in the Chicago area and working Risk Mgmt. Interesting time to be in Risk Mgmt. Eek! Oldest daughter has shifted gears and moved to Madison last year working on her masters in modern day library science (not what it used to be for sure). My younger daughter just moved back to Chicago following four years in Boston. Still working for a luxury travel operator, but heading to new opportunities. WFH has allowed me to nurture my garden in the early morning hours and enjoy it in late summer evenings. Also, I manage to get in golf and patio social distancing. Hi to all. Thanks for working so hard for us Peggy!!”

(You’re quite welcome, Char!!  I love doing this….Ripon rocks!!  Peggy)

SUSAN ANGELL SCHMIDT ’80 shared this tidbit of information – anyone up for a road trip to Wausau? Susan is married to ANDREW SCHMIDT ’81.  

WINNETTA “WINNIE” JONES ’80 of St. Louis, Missouri, writes “greetings to classmates and hopes everyone is doing well and staying safe.” Thanks for writing in, Winnie!! Hope you are well too!

Dr. Robert Wallace – shared this with me: “Dr. Bob Wallace has been retired from teaching for just over 1 year, but he has an office and laboratory in Farr Hall and is still publishing papers on rotifers.”

I also want to give a huge shout out to BRICE TERBEEST ’14, who, through a series of synchronicities, has ended up helping me with some retirement stuff (that’s likely why I’m still working). His business partner is my massage therapist’s daughter. She told me that I just need to meet with her dad and his business partner (who went to Ripon)…..and that was really enough for me (plus she scheduled the appointment…)….and the other thing is that her son, SHAUN ROBERTS ’23 is also at Ripon. And….Brice plays tennis with JOLENE RUEDEN SCHATZINGER’s ’07, husband professor of politics and government, Henrik Schatzinger, at the Willmore Center. Guess that Ripon Connection has always been in my life and that is one thing that has not changed. It’s an incredible constant that many of us share and will forever share.

What do you do, when there is no State Fair in Wisconsin? You create your own!! I share with you some photos from the “Life Changed State Fair” that LISA HEIMLER ’80 and KATHY GOODBOUT ’80 created the week of August 3!!

The “official” cow of choice that came from the Dime Store in Sheboygan, WI (right Bert?)

The cow is looking at all of us on last week’s Zoom meeting – 




State Fair Food Fare – COVID-19 Style – 

Must be breakfast of champions….I notice the Bloody Marys.  ☺ 

State Fair Food Fare – Dinner

Lienie’s Canoe Paddler and another libation that I’m not sure the variety.

Thanks for sharing this with us!!  HOW. FUN.!!!


I think that I got everyone that sent something to me!! I’m so excited to have shared all of this Class of 1980 information!! You are all amazing to send me information so that others can see just how engaged we are in being retired, still working, still drinking and still enjoying fun – even when life changed. We, too, can all be able to change so that we can still do the things we want to – albeit with a bit different spin.

To Ripon College,

Peggy Gero DaValt ’80

Ripon College Class Agent

PS – D’uh – Our 41st Reunion will be in conjunction with the Class of 1981’s at the old Pub now called The Spot. I believe that we’ll also be sharing with the Class of 1985 and 1986. Should be a GREAT time!! Mark your calendars for June 24-27, 2021. See you back on campus for Alumni Weekend, 2021, for an amazing gathering of epic proportions!!