1984–Spring ’18 Class Letter

Class Agents:

Connie Herbon Moser

[email protected]

Vicki Vicha Erickson

[email protected]

Spring 2018

Greetings Class of 1984!  

I sit here and write to you very early in the morning from the side of the Canyons in Park City, Utah. VICKI VICHA ERICKSON ‘84, or Fritz as most of you remember her, and I have been coming to Park City with our families and friends for twenty years. This year, the snow is pristine (Thank goodness, because two weeks ago the mountains were barren), the skiing has been fantastic, and I have still been able to venture down quite a few challenging hills. Every year we back it down a bit from a challenge perspective, but it is fun to see the next generation take the hills with a vengeance. Next year, we hope to have SARA SHARER ’84 join us; she tried this year but was unable to make it.  

As I sit here with a BIG cup of coffee and Advil in hand, preparing for the next day of skiing, I would like to describe the buzz around campus focusing on three exciting areas: the Willmore Health and Wellness Facility, the new curriculum and enrollment. First, the Willmore Health and Wellness Facility. Over the last six years, I have had the honor of sitting on the Board of Trustees with DENA WILLMORE ’67. She has held most positions on the board and was the first female Chairman of the Board of Trustees. More importantly, she is a wonderful and giving human being and I thank her for her mentorship and her “pay it forward attitude” to Ripon. For those of you who have not seen the facility, all I can say is “WOW.” The facility has features for every student on the Ripon campus. The focus, when building, was to incorporate it into campus life and be an extension for the community. And, the college has succeeded. It is now one of the most used facilities on campus by students and residents! Please plan on coming to visit in June of next year for our 35th Reunion.

The next big project the college took on centered on the curriculum. With Dr. Ed Wingenbach, the Vice President and Dean of Faculty, leading the way, the faculty completely restructured and modernized the curriculum while maintaining the goal of a liberal arts education. In summary, “Ripon College’s five-course Catalyst curriculum rigorously develops the 21st-century skills that employers seek while streamlining the path to graduation. Catalyst ensures students are able to complete multiple majors and minors, study abroad and hold internships in four years. Students enjoy extensive freedom to pursue their passions and craft their own academic program of study.”  

Lastly, given the decline of college bound students, the Ripon faculty and executive team have placed a major focus on admissions and have now begun to see results from their work. Classes of 2018 and now 2019 (i.e., active enrollment going on) show an incline, but they need our help. Please refer and recommend Ripon College early and often.  

Now on to classmate updates. Over the last few years, I have reached out and asked for summaries from classmates. This year, two volunteered that have not provided updates to the college since graduation and I am very excited to share their summaries with you.  Thank you Jeff and Ivan!

JEFF SOLINSKY ’84 of DeRidder, Louisiana, writes, “It is with great pleasure that I submit this update of myself, my family and my life since graduation. It may be a little long as this will be my first ever update to my 1984 classmates. Please accept my apology in advance for its length.

After graduation I sat for both the OCAT and MCAT, as it was my desire to leverage my Chemistry-Biology major at Ripon into a career as an Ophthalmologist. I was accepted to the Illinois College of Optometry in Chicago and then by Penn State Hershey College of Medicine for my follow on medical school training. Since I was in the Ripon ROTC program, the Army had first dibs on me.  Though I applied for an educational delay to serve and fulfill my obligation to the Army until after I completed my Ophthalmology schooling, the Army felt that my major was a perfect match to help fill a critically short chemical officer corps. I entered as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Army Chemical Corps. I contacted both ICO & Penn State and explained my obligation and situation. They both promised me a class slot once I completed my obligation to the military.

After finishing Chemical Officer Basic Course at Ft. McClelland, Alabama, I was offered a slot in up to three different Army specialty training schools before I reported to my first duty assignment. I chose Airborne Training and Ranger School. I completed airborne school in April 1986 and went straight into Ranger School a week and a half later. Which was some of the toughest (both physically and mentally) training that I have ever endured. I learned more about myself through those two courses than anything else I have done, before or since. I resigned my commission in October 1989 after spending several years in Germany then back to states and ending up at Ft. Polk, Louisiana where I concluded my service with a company command as a Captain, promotable to Major. Second only to my Ranger training, I treasure my time as a platoon leader and company commander. Those positions were the most rewarding of my lifetime. I value my time of service to my country in the Army beyond words.

While in Louisiana, a place that I had no desire to visit and, after arriving, had no desire to stay in, I met my beautiful bride, Darla Goins. I met her in the spring of 1989 and we married on November 11 of that same year. In 1995 we added our “one and only” to our family, Eden, our daughter, born January 21, 1995. As of this writing, Darla and I have been married for 28 years and Eden is 23 years old. Eden graduated with a BS with a major in finance last May (2017). She joined my employee benefits and financial planning practice following her graduation.  I could not be more proud of the young lady she has become. Beautiful and smart like her mother and tenacious like her father. Wink, wink. We love to travel the world together and have been to so many wonderful places across the globe. When at home, I enjoy gardening and woodworking in my woodshop when not tending to my honey bees or horses.

So, to sum up the past 28 years since landing in Louisiana and leaving the army; I unknowingly came to an unexpected (and unwanted) paradise, met a perfect, beautiful helpmate (Darla and I are truly a perfect match made in heaven) and together we produced our Eden.

See you at our next class reunion.”

IVAN PETERS ’84 of Prior Lake, Minnesota, writes, “Since graduation, I have enjoyed working for larger companies at technical lead software development positions. I worked in the financial division of GM for 9 years, and then changed to United Health Group in 2010. Currently, I am the technical practice lead of our Pega Enterprise solutions architects. Pega is roughly a fancy database-based Java case tool. Throughout my career, companies have suggested that I pursue management, but I like the technical lead position. Although they now bring me into management meetings to provide technical advice. Currently we work with both Amazon and Microsoft.

I met my wife, MaryKay, the summer of my junior year at Ripon, when 6 of our DU fraternity met at Mack Brown’s Minneapolis house on way to a multi-week Boundary Waters canoe and camping trip.  A Ripon girl I went on a date with brought her to meet us. We now have 3 daughters and one son, a son-in-law and a granddaughter. (We had a smash hit barn wedding for them). I still have my incredible computer programming cultivated social skills, but my family puts up with me.  We live in a southern suburb of Minneapolis. MaryKay resigned her awarded marketing regional management position at Babies ‘R’ US in the 2008 depression when they merged marketing into the stores. She was bummed, and I like to make her happy, so I cashed in my investment hobby and bought multiple rental properties to start a business that she runs. She now also runs a daycare for our 2-year-old granddaughter.

Two of my kids still live at home, paying off student loans. We all try to meet Sundays for dinner.

My wife’s favorite place is Disney World, so one of our vices is going there every Spring/Fall for 2 to 4 weeks each trip with various friends and family. Our next trip is March 9, though I enjoy fall wine fest more. I found the best places to get strong Margaritas and Long Island Iced Teas before going on rides or attending my wife’s shopping, though now with a granddaughter we have a more appropriate excuse to go. We are Disney annual pass holders.”