1980 – Fall ’21 Class Letter

1980 – Fall 2021 Class Letter

Class Agent:


 (608) 658-3779 / [email protected]

Dearest Friends and Classmates of the Ripon College Class of 1980:

As I recall, it was Sunday, August 22, 1976, that over 250 young students from all over the world showed up at this small, rural Wisconsin community we know as Ripon, Wisconsin to attend Ripon College. I’m being somewhat nostalgic because it is important to me to share with you how I have been navigating some of the changes that this world has brought to us over the past couple of years and the changes that I have seen as it affects me and my relationship with Ripon College. This is something that I need to share. My journey through the past many years as your Class Agent has brought me to this edition. 

One of my very most favorite books is Simple Abundance: 365 Days to a Balanced and Joyful Life by Sarah Ban Breathnach who created this #1 New York Times best-selling book back in 1995. In 2019, she revisited and revised her work to make it more contemporary. 

Pearl Bailey, an American actress and singer said this, “You never find yourself until you face the truth.” In Sarah Ban Breathnach’s February first entry, she shares what it is like for her to write. “Making the absolute best of ourselves is not an easy task. It is a pleasurable pursuit, it is the reason we were born, but it requires spiritual moxie, the quixotic blending of passion, patience, persistence, and perseverance. For many of us it also requires prayer. That’s because we find it far easier to learn to live by our own lights when we access a Higher Source of Power to illuminate our path.” She continues on in the entry, “So I started to ask for the Power to be switched on in my daily life: as a mother, a writer, an artist and a friend. When I asked, it was turned on. When I didn’t, I stayed in the dark. You don’t have to be a master electrician to understand what is going on here. Someone must turn on the switch. Asking is the only way to activate spiritual electricity. When there is Light, we see remarkably well. We see with clarity. And what we can see if we look deep within is that the Authentic Self is the Soul made visible.”

As Sarah wrote her original book, she decluttered her life of more than just objects that no longer serve us, but the clutter of other people’s opinion: about our lives, our jobs, our partners, our wardrobes, our weight, our children, our decorating style. Her conclusion as we try to wade through those thoughts every day to level a playing field just to find space for our own thoughts which does cause us to tire. The last portion of this entry shares this profound information, “Don’t try to remake yourself into something you’re not. Just try making the best of what the Great Creator made in you. The sacred art of nurturing our soul is the artisanal craft of Simple Abundance. Begin today by flipping the switch to turn on the Light.”

As I have shared over the years with all of you, my dad, Bob Gero, used to say that the only thing constant in life is change. His wisdom is totally evident in this present moment. He was very smart, and his words still echo in my mind. In being my authentic self, I will admit that I do not like change because it tends to not allow me to “control” my life in any given moment.

As my classmates, you may ask, “Why are you reflecting on this?”

My reasons are many but the biggest one is that I must speak my truth as I share with you how I have felt over the past couple of years. As many of you know, I have been one of the biggest fans of Ripon College. The time spent there had been four of my best years of life. I supported the College and did my best to contribute as a Class Agent, volunteer, and a silent recruiter of future students. I also supported the College financially, including through estate planning and hosting the Class’s Facebook group. I do my best to keep alumni up-to-date on the news of our classmates.

What has bothered me the most (my opinion only) is that I have realized my medical and health freedoms, as well as sovereign rights, are being eroded before our very eyes. This has especially impacted me as a State of Wisconsin employee considered an “essential employee” and having to work every day in person due to the facility that I am employed at. I am grateful for my job- that has never changed. What has changed for me is being forced to make medical decisions that never ever had to be made in this job. 

I have found there is comfort in finding people of like-mindedness, because I have found that the ability to agree to disagree is not often possible. I will say that from the political, socio-economic, and medical issues plaguing this world, division is what is happening between families, friends, and co-workers.

For me, I have stepped back. Normally, I am a very extroverted person, yet I have withdrawn and kept to myself only to protect my soul as it processes these changes that I’m seeing. I must watch myself as I go through days that I do actually stand up for what I believe even if many people in my work-world do not.

Earlier this year, Ripon College, put out an issue of the Ripon Magazine which caused me just to step back and say, “WOW” is this the Ripon College that I used to love? Is this the College that I was proud to be associated with? The resounding answer to me was no it was not. My instant thought was, I need to share with them how I am feeling and that something could be done, because I am not 100% sure that I am the only one who is feeling that angst about what I was seeing in the College’s major communication tool for alumni.

I have done the best I can to support the College. I do my best to recruit students, volunteer my time and energy and share the incredible experience I had while I was a student and now an alumna of Ripon College. I have also been a Partner in Legacy and have contributed a portion of my estate to Ripon College, but now I have had serious thoughts about cutting this back, as it is something I can choose to do. I feel that there is only one “side” presented in the Ripon Magazine

To problem-solve, I felt there would and could be an amicable solution to this situation I saw (as well as others who have shared with me their concerns). At this moment in time (11.14.21) I have been able to schedule a meeting with the College Administration to discuss some of my views on how the Ripon Magazine has been published of late. In the past, I always felt that there were other viewpoints and options shared in the Ripon Magazine and not strictly one. I contacted the College to update my Class Letter, and I am writing to let you know that I have reached out to the Administration and I did meet with Vice President of Advancement Shawn Karsten ‘09 on November 16 by phone and he has addressed my concerns from the College’s perspective. It was a very good conversation.

That’s why it has taken me so long to write this letter. Now writing this, I feel as if I have been authentic and not just hiding how I view and perceive things in this crazy, changing world we live in. 

Ripon College News and Events

President Zach Messitte announces that he will be stepping down as Ripon’s 13th President. He has served the College from 2012 and will be ending his tenure at the end of this Fall Semester 2021. 

For the complete report, you can check this out on the website – 


Dr. Andrea Young has been appointed Ripon College’s interim president. A national search committee to find President Messitte’s replacement has been formed. Watch for more news as soon as someone has been hired.



Class News, Notes, and Announcements

For those of you that are on Facebook and have not already joined, I have a Ripon College (WI) Class of 1980 Facebook page that you are welcome to become a part of. 

Another reminder for those of you interested, there is a permanent Zoom meeting on Tuesday nights at 8:00 p.m. (CDT). Please join. Join regulars, KATHY GOODBOUT ’80, ROBERTA KOHLHAGEN ’80, and PEGGY GERO DAVALT ’80 for a most interesting chat. See you soon!!

The information to join is here:

Join Zoom Meeting


Meeting ID: 860 2207 0250

Password: 733821

ELLEN BARTH ’80 of Omro, Wisconsin, recently retired from the State of Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, after 30+ years of employment where she worked most recently as a Wildlife Biologist Supervisor. She is enjoying retirement. 

In loving memory of MARY E. BRANDT ’80 – January 21, 1958, to July 24, 2021 – 

For those of you in the Class of 1980, she was a good friend to me as well as to her Alpha Delta Pi sorority sisters. Her love of teaching took her to Arizona where she lived for many years. You will be missed by all who loved you!

The celebration of her life was held in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Saturday, October 2.


KATHY GOODBOUT ’80, LISA HEIMLER ’80, and SARA MAURER ’80 all met for dinner in late October, as SARA was traveling in Wisconsin for a conference. 

That’s it for me. Have a great autumn and winter season. How fast time flies!! Keep sending me information for your next Class Letter.

Celebrate everything,


Ripon College Class Agent