1988 – Fall ’20 Class Letter

Co-Class Agents:


(202) 251-9640 / [email protected]


(248) 470-4336 / [email protected]

Greetings Classmates from David,

I don’t know where to start. This is one of those years you never want to repeat. 

It is the middle of the summer and I have not stepped foot in the office since sometime in late March. I guess I can count myself as one of the lucky ones who still has a job that I can do from home. Working for a national nonprofit, our CEO told us within a week of locking us out that we may go through layoffs and furloughs. Two weeks later, on a town hall video chat, we were told that over 400 of the 1,500 people at our nonprofit were no longer employed, furloughed, or working part-time.

When we walked out of the office on March 13th, we just assumed it would be for a couple of weeks or maybe two months. I plan an annual event that was to take place the first weekend of May. We held out hope and waited until the beginning of April and rebooked the event until October and finally as the spike in the virus hit in June, we moved the event to May 2021.

In the midst of all this, my mother was hospitalized several times in February, March, and April having trouble breathing. Not sure if it was the flu or something else, but my father who is over 88 has had to deal with this alone in Chicago. After four and a half months they have diagnosed early stages of Alzheimer’s.

Also in the midst of the pandemic, my partner and his doctor conferred in June when elective surgeries were able to resume in late July that he would have open heart surgery to take care of a hereditary heart ailment to prevent a heart attack in the future. The surgery went well, and recovery will take us through the middle of September. 

I am sure that I have gained stress weight through this whole ordeal, so when our gym opened in July I was thrilled. The gym informed us the showers were not available and they would only allow 25% capacity. Then there was the mask/no mask during rigorous activity. You only had to wear the mask to the machine, then you had to wear it the whole time (talk about sucking wind) then you only had to wear the mask to the machines. Talk about trying to dodge a bullet.

Through all of this being socially distant, being unable to travel, Zoom meetings, and Zoom birthday parties, I am exhausted. It is really hard to take “vacation” when you really can’t/don’t want to go anywhere that might be considered a hot spot. One of our friends had planned a destination wedding that was scheduled for mid-May, then the end of August, and has now been completely canceled. We decided that our first trip after recovery will probably be via car to Chicago.

I know a lot of the news these days revolves around students going back to school via online learning vs being on campus. Students at several universities on the east coast have already returned to campus. One of my favorite parts of the school year was move-in day when we finally returned to campus. Getting back to “normal.” Meeting new people. Ripon was just one of those tight-knit worlds where I found the best part of the whole experience was actually interacting with my fellow classmates outside of the classroom. I hope the students who return to campus will be able to experience what I got.

Class Notes:

BETH LAUFENBURG BARTON ’88 shared: Beth and her husband celebrated their 25th anniversary by traveling to Ireland prior to the COVID-19 outbreak. Prior to COVID-19, Beth honed a new skill via YouTube in masonry and created a whole new fire pit and patio in the back yard. On her way back from Ireland, while going through the airport in Philly, she saw some furniture made out of pallets. She went home and taught herself how to make chairs out of pallets to enjoy the firepit. Beth highly recommends YouTube for learning new hobbies. 

JAMIE HAWLEY 88 shared: “KRIS DIEMER HAWLEY ’88 and I are doing well, working from home in Halifax. The mask project is still ongoing, and I have sent out hundreds and hundreds of kits to people. I still have kits available (free, but they need to be sewn, instructions included!). Stay healthy!”

LINNEA HEMPEL DE VALDEZ ’88/P’17 shared: “I finished year 29 in Minneapolis Public Schools, and I am adding another license, English Language Arts. Over the summer Ripon professors supported me in adding the teaching license by sending me lots of old syllabi and course descriptions. Our 15-year-old son just started high school where I teach. That’s fun going to school together. Our older son, BEN VALDEZ-HEMPEL ’17, started working for the American Councils of International Education in D.C., managing social media. He loves communications now and is re-designing our website for Brushabilities, his father’s painting company of 23 years. Having Ben off living his dream in D.C. largely in part why Ripon means so much to us. Life is good on the home front. A COVID-19 silver lining is our younger son joined my husband and painted with Brushabilities. So fun and proud of him!”

TANYA SCHWARTZ ROEPER ’88 shared: “After working 20 years as a health care executive, RANDY ROEPER ’88 was ready for a career change. He is now the new Associate VP of Development and Operations at Ripon College! He’s enjoying his job immensely. Our oldest son JONAH ROEPER ’24 graduated from high school in the spring. He was torn between being a Lawrence Viking or a Ripon Red Hawk. He chose to be a Red Hawk! Our youngest son Oliver is a sophomore. Ripon College Alums are always welcome to visit us at our Green Lake home. Look us up if you’re in the area, we’d love to see you.”

In closing

KATHY WADE ’88 and I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who gave to the #OneDayRally, to the Ripon Fund (formerly, the Annual Fund), and to the Emergency Fund. Twenty-three of you gave to the #OneDayRally and 11 of our classmates gave to the Emergency Fund! We had the second-highest number of #OneDayRally donors when comparing Classes from 1983-1992! That is awesome!!! Thank you!!!!

The admissions office is always looking for referrals of potential students. If you know parents who are looking at colleges for 2021 or beyond, please let the admissions office know and maybe help them get the application packets.

Please update your contact information, especially your email address, with the College at https://www.ripon.edu/update-contact-info/. We are going to send out this Class Letter through regular mail and through e-mail. The next Class Letter will be sent out via email only. All of the Fall Class Letters will be posted at R Connections, https://www.ripon.edu/rconnections/

Again, KATHY WADE ’88 and I want to extend a very big THANK YOU for everyone who has sent us class notes and donated to Ripon during the pandemic.