1988 Spring ’23 Class Letter

Greetings classmates from DAVID!

I was trying to remember the last time I wrote the class letter, and it must have been sometime during the pandemic. The last two and a half years were a blur as many of you saw my saga going back and forth to Chicago as a caregiver to one or the other parent in the last stages of their lives. It is a chapter in my life that I may miss a little as I get back to the new normal.

I am looking forward to returning to Ripon June 22-25 for our 35th Reunion and I hope you are planning on attending. It may be a little harder to step on campus and remember the first time I visited with my father in the summer of 1984. We drove right on by. We laughed as we saw the sign for Green Lake and looked at each other bewildered. “Did we miss it?” In 1984, Ripon was exactly what I was looking for. Arriving on campus from Chicago as an inner-city student attending a high school with over 2,000 students, I was looking for smaller class sizes and more interactions with the professors. I am so glad my father and I backtracked and found Seward Street.

KATHY WADE ’88 and I are thrilled that MICHELLE EBERT WITT ’88 has rejoined the Reunion planning committee, and we have added some new faces: KRIS DIEMER HAWLEY ’88, KIRSTEN KNOLL-CARLSON HOLLES ’88, and RANDY ROEPER ’88. Along with the events planned throughout campus over the weekend, we have opportunities scheduled for our class to gather together. On Friday night, RANDY and TANYA SCHWARTZ-ROEPER ’88 have graciously opened their farm in Green Lake, and on Saturday night, our Reunion Party will take place in the Rodman Center in the Caestecker Gallery (catered by Mr. & Mrs. P’s).

We hope that as you plan for Alumni Weekend, you remember that there are still room blocks available at the
Heidel House in Green Lake, which you can book online at here. There is a block of rooms at the Cobblestone Suites in Ripon which can be booked by calling 920-748-5500.

KATHY WADE ’88, KIRSTEN KNOLL-CARLSON HOLLES ’88, KRIS DIEMER HAWLEY ’88, MICHELLE EBERT WITT ’88, RANDY ROEPER ’88, and I are also working on a lofty goal for our Ripon Fund gift. We’ll be sending out communications and making calls over the next two months. In the past we have presented an oversized check with our gift at our Reunion, and this year will be our first to present our gift to Ripon’s newly inaugurated President Dr. Victoria N. Folse.

Hopefully you have received the latest Ripon Magazine or a postcard announcing several welcome receptions leading up to the Inauguration of Dr. Victoria N. Folse on April 22nd. Dr. Folse is Ripon’s 14th president and the first female! Please consider making an effort to attend one of the welcome receptions as Dr. Folse may be in your area prior to Alumni Weekend. 

Class Notes

JIM CONWAY ’88 writes: “Update 2023: I’m still awesome.”

MARIO FRIEDEL ’88: Please check out this article about MARIO‘s new jazz album and his Grammy ballot. MARIO’s wife, SHERRY THOMPSON FRIEDEL’87, is a background singer on the album.

JAMIE HAWLEY ’88 writes: KRIS DIEMER HAWLEY 88, and Jamie are excited to share that RACHEL HAWLEY ’19 will graduate with her Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) degree from UW Madison in May. She has accepted a post-doctoral fellowship as the inaugural US Medical Affairs fellow at Alnylam Pharmaceuticals. Kris is thrilled that they’ll both be working for the same incredible biotech company in Cambridge, MA.

KIRSTEN KNOLL-CARLSON HOLLES 88 writes: “Hi. My name is KIRSTEN KNOLL or KIRSTEN KNOLL-CARLSON or KIRSTEN HOLLES. I am known by lots of names. What I am not known as is an attendee of college reunions. I joined the year’s reunion committee because I thought maybe if I did, I would decide to attend. The majority of my friend group doesn’t attend reunions and I fear I will not have people to hang around with or won’t know anyone to hang around with. I’m hoping that maybe others will decide to attend for the first time, and we can be lost together – much like day one. So, if you have never attended before, come join me for another Ripon first.”

DEB WESTFAHL ’88 writes: “I am traveling to Europe and Africa this year! I added visiting all continents to my bucket list!”

MICHELLE EBERT WITT 88 writes: “I am really looking forward to our 35th Reunion this summer. As much as I enjoy the random ‘Do you remember when….’ that pops up in conversation, I’m more interested in what folks have been doing the past 35 years – travel, adventures, kids….. grandkids? (Yeah, that’s a possibility!) You’ll have a chance to see the enhancements made to the campus and marvel at how there are no longer payphones that would ring until someone took pity and answered them.

In October, I attended the funeral for Dr Mary Williams-Norton, one of my advisors in the Physics Department at Ripon. She embodied the Ripon Experience for me – not only as a professor, but someone who added in comments on life, education, and work. I watched as she balanced being a mom and scientist/professor, even sleeping one night a week in her office to avoid the long drive home after astronomy labs. She invited me to stay overnight at her home in Poynette and took me to a seminar in Madison the next day. Hopefully many of you also had connections with some of the staff you knew at Ripon.” 

In Memory Of

Thomas Caestecker of Green Lake, Wisconsin, and Kenilworth, Illinois, age 90, passed away peacefully on Thursday, October 6, 2022, at his home in Green Lake. He was a Ripon College Trustee from 1985 to 2002 and received an honorary degree and the College’s 2017 Founders’ Day Award.

Beth Lau of Bloomington, Indiana and Milwaukee, Wisconsin, died of metastatic cancer on November 2, 2022, in Bloomington, IN. Beth taught at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces and at Ripon College prior to becoming a professor at California State University, Long Beach, where she taught for twenty-two years. She enjoyed her students and was always an active scholar in her field.

Mary Williams-Norton of Poynette, Wisconsin, passed away at 76 years of age after battling metastatic breast cancer at Meriter Hospital in Madison, WI, on Tuesday, September 27, 2022. Mary served as a professor and department chair in the Ripon College Physics Department for 37 years, retiring in 2012. She not only taught physics and astronomy; she was a role model, emphasizing the contribution of women in science. She worked closely with the Ripon College Education Department to inspire elementary education students to love science teaching. She also worked with the Wisconsin Elementary and Middle Level Science Teachers organization to promote science education in public schools. Outside of the college classroom, Mary led Girl Scout troops in Poynette, WI and enthusiastically supported the Poynette School District.

Evelyn Kain, emerita professor of art, died on December 30, 2022. Professor Kain taught at Ripon for 28 years from 1983-2011. She was the Helen Swift Neilson Professor of Cultural Studies and received the James R. Underkofler Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award in 1994. She performed with Collegium Musicum, Ceresco String Band and the college choir for decades. 

Ripon News

For more news from Ripon, go to ripon.edu/news/!

In Closing from KATHY!

I look forward to seeing you all during Alumni Weekend!

David ’88

Kathy ’88

P.S. There will be a special giving event in conjunction with inauguration weekend, April 20-23, to celebrate Ripon’s 14th President, Victoria N. Folse, and the exciting momentum happening within our campus community. This event will be an extension of the #OneDayRally brand and experience. Stay tuned for more information. We look forward to your participation!