1978-Fall ’18 Class Letter

Gregg Petersen

10829 Hilltop Lane, Columbia, MD 21044

410-884-0407 / [email protected]

July 3, 2018

Dear Classmates:

The reunion has come and gone in a flash! Two hours for the reunion was way, way too short. 39 classmates, 80+ attendees overall counting plus ones and the return of our wonderful faculty members and spouses! We thought we could meet in the Martin Luther King Lounge but in the days before the reunion, we exploded out of the downstairs of Harwood Union up to owning the Great Hall for our event!  

The night prior to the reunion, in the very same location, Ripon College recognized JOSE ALEMAN ’78 and ERIKA DOSS ’78 as Distinguished Alumni with four of the tables filled with fellow ’78 classmates and faculty there in support! Erika talked fondly of her Ripon professors. Jose remarked over the irony that as we graduated in 1978 our nation was focused on tearing walls down, whereas today our nation was building a wall. Jose opined for a return to our past.

It was an interesting journey leading up to our reunion. Our very own Emmy winner and distinguished alumni, HELEN HOLTER ’78 spent over 100 hours putting together a video that is essentially a 1974 Green List/1978 Yearbook graduation gallery. The video is 30 minutes long with only 4 seconds per classmate picture. In the process of researching all of our classmates that started with us freshman year, there have been some sad discoveries that I noted below in addition to the recent passing of JIM MARTIN ’78. Helen “finished” the video on June 10th, so the link is now posted on Facebook and we played it on a loop at the reunion. Thanks to Helen for all of her painstaking care and time on the video. If you want access to the link or a copy of the video, please contact me.

Thanks also to reunion planners LIZ PECHA POELKER ’78 and LAURIE WAGNER ’78 who pulled together our great number of classmates, friends and faculty for the reunion. Thanks to ROB “TEX” MEYER ’78 who was calling everybody that has a phone number (and will answer their phone). Thanks to LIZ PECHA POELKER ’78, JOHN ZINDAR ’78, LOUISA GEBELEIN JONES ’78, and LISA WOLLAN ’78 as well for their fruitful efforts conducting our annual fund class gift outreach.

On the final morning of Alumni Weekend, I attended the Alumni Weekend Service of Remembrance where Professor Emeritus Doug Northrop spoke very eloquently. I noticed that the remembrance program listed some other year-group classmates that passed in the last year. I was shocked to find that JEANNIE UETZMANN PORDON ’77 and TOM CONNOLLY ’76 had passed away. Others of us may know two other classmates that passed from years ‘76 & ’80:  ADAIN BUMBY ’76 and MARK GREENE ’80.



  • ’78 Classmate Updates
  • Class of ’78 Dominates Participation for Ripon #OneDayRally April 25th
  • Class of ’78 Wins Class Gift Participation Trophy
  • Reunion Comments
  • Reunion Attendees


’78 Classmate Updates:

TAMARA “TAMI” BODEN-ELLIS ’78 of Somerset, United Kingdom wrote the following concerning our reunion year Class Gift Annual Fund drive: “Thank you for your letter (and gentle reminder). I shall be participating in “gifting” but sadly will not attend the reunion this year. I am sure it will be a delightful occasion and send on my very best wishes to everyone (& you). If you are able to take my book along and share it with others, I would be most grateful. As you will see from reading it to the end, it is part of a bigger dream. And that bigger dream needs the help of others. Lastly, a “Ripon Alumni” Invite (fundraiser). I have now lived most of my life here in England. And Peter and I would be happy to share our love of it. Our home has a double bedroom w/ensuite. If ‘Ripon Alumni’ would like to visit and give a donation to Ripon for staying, we would enjoy the visit. We live in the Southwest of England, (about) 150 miles (English miles) from London. If you would like to share that with the class at the reunion, please do. In the meantime, enjoy yourselves-hope you ALL have a lovely time in Ripon.Best wishes, Tami (& Peter, of course).”

I mentioned Tami’s book in our last class letter: No Way?!: How Pickles Became the Christmas Gherkin. Tami is using the book and proceeds to raise awareness of the needs for children with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD).

I talked to DAN DALLMAN ’78 of Waukesha, Wisconsin where he works for a marketing company after formerly working with AIG and Liberty Mutual Company. He’s married with five children: four girls and a boy. His son is attending University of Wisconsin Whitewater. He and Merriman brother, DAN CHIONCHIO ’78 of Princeton, Wisconsin go on an annual fishing outing every year, usually coming home with walleye and bass.

Freshman classmate BOB GREYTAK ’79 is a podiatrist in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin.

HELEN HOLTER ’78 of Seattle, Washington sends, “As a board director of the Seattle-Tashkent Sister City Association in Central Asia’s Uzbekistan, (she) is excited about the country’s new reform-minded president in power. She’s been meeting with top-level officials – including the new ambassador and ministry officials – to help in opening up Uzbekistan to business, travel, and educational student exchanges.” Helen’s production of our class video was appropriate given that Helen has made many videos before.  Helen announced, “I am doing another volunteer project with a Seattle cancer organization. I’m producing a video on genetic cancers, specifically those caused by the MSH2 gene.” According to a search I made, the MSH2 gene is associated with autosomal dominant Lynch syndrome (also called hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer syndrome). Lynch syndrome is a genetic condition that has a high risk of colon cancer as well as other cancers including endometrial cancer (second most common), ovary, stomach, small intestine, hepatobiliary tract, upper urinary tract, brain, and skin. The increased risk for these cancers is due to inherited mutations that impair DNA mismatch repair. It is a type of cancer syndrome.

NORMAN HURD ’78 of Portage, Wisconsin was my first semester roommate in old Scott Hall and then he left.  Norm and fellow Old Scott Hall (also known as “the slums” for their lack of carpeting and other amenities) freshmen GREG HOPKINS ’78, BILL SCHUMACHER ’78, and LUD WURTZ ‘78 were aspiring basketball players for the Ripon freshman team in fall of ’74. I checked in on Norm recently to see why he returned to his hometown after one semester at Ripon. Norm had to help out his mom who had health issues, so he left Ripon to be close to home.  Thereafter, he attended University of Wisconsin-Baraboo, and then finished out his education at University of Wisconsin La Crosse. Norm went on to teach high school health classes for 32 years in his hometown of Portage, Wisconsin while coaching the basketball team for 27 years before retiring in 2011. Norm now works at the Wisconsin Dells at JustaGame Fieldhouse in retirement and continues to work as a substitute teacher at Portage High School. Our nickname for Norm was “Normal” because he was so even-tempered among a bunch of us rambunctious young freshmen in the fall of 1974. There was a funny anecdote in his local paper about a basketball game where he was coaching, and he received a technical foul for using the (not very) extreme epithet of shouting, “Jeepers-creepers ref!” Norm clearly had basketball running through his blood; Norm proudly told me that both of his sons were selected to the All State Wisconsin basketball team. They are coaches now at University of Wisconsin Stevens Point and Gale Ettrick Trempealeau High School (nicknamed “GET High!”-how interesting!) respectively. Whenever Norm hears the song Band on the Run (#23 of the Top 100 songs of 1974) by Paul McCartney and Wings he flashes back to his days at Ripon, because that was the first song that played when he hooked up his stereo in our room in Scott Hall. He occasionally tracks on his friend ADAM KRIVELOFF ’78. He also had fond memories of Resident Assistants BILLY SMITH ’76 and MAURICE RUSSELL ’76.

JOE KEEGAN ’78 of St. Petersburg, Florida writes, “Heading to St Germain for the summer after the reunion! Summers in Wisconsin for the last 30 years! Getting together with fellow Merrimen for a golf weekend in Green Lake, the week before Labor Day.  JIM KOHL ’77, KERRY GILLE ’77, TIM SULLIVAN ’77, MARK RECHNER ’77, MARK BOHMAN ’76, AL SCHEELS ’76, PAUL WISNEFSKI ’77, DANNY CHIONCHIO ’78, CRAIG WINTER ’76 …. and BOBBY WEYHMILLER ’76! And the Duke of Earle… PAT EARLE ’76! Also see GEORGE MORT ’80 up North…. and an occasional ART PETERS ’80 and RUTH HOLLINGER PETERS ’79!”

KEVIN LEAVITT ’78 of New London, New Hampshire has worked for a tree service in nearby Sunapee for the last seven years.  Prior to that Kevin was in Connecticut for 15 years. Kevin left Ripon in 1976 and hasn’t besen back.  Before he left, he warmly recalls going fishing with Merriman brothers DAN DALLMAN ’78 and DANNY CHIONCHIO ’78 (see Dan’s note above). Kevin still enjoys fishing these days and mostly catches bass, pickerel, and trout on his outings. In the off-season, Kevin usually heads to Florida for a month’s vacation in the warmer climate.  

PATRICIA KRUG MORRELL ’78 of Northfield, Illinois, writes, “Married to ED MORRELL ’77 for 41 years! I continue as an interior designer but dedicate a lot of time to working with La Casa Norte supporting homeless youth. We are expecting our first and second grandchildren in April and July.”

I talked to BARBARA MENGEL ROMANELLO ’78 of North Prairie, Wisconsin. She just retired in the last year but she and husband GREG ROMANELLO ’77 are keeping quite busy with family. Most recently their daughter had triplets! That brings their grandchildren total to 7 – and all of them are boys!

DONNA HANSEN SCYMANSKI ’78 of Hamden, Connecticut wrote the following on our Facebook page just before the reunion: “…I would be interested, and others may also in our classmate’s junior year abroad studies (such a huge part of my life, though it meant missing experiences at Ripon, even graduating the following year). So, pics of me would be in the 1979 yearbook. I was thinking ‘little known facts’ sheet could be fun. Such as STEVE RASHID’s ’79 band played at my wedding. Kathy Bakshy’s daughter and my son are a couple. In 1982 heard my name called out in a nasal tone in Paris. Was MARY PALMQUIST ’78, that sort of thing.” MICHAEL POULOS ’77 responded, “STEVE RASHID ’79 conducted the orchestra at our wedding and played piano at the reception. And then he moved to Evanston and opened a studio a block from our office and studied music at Northwestern with my high school band director, Doc Owens. Such a small world.”

EDDIE SMITH ’78 of Atlanta, Georgia writes: “Hello, Greg (and classmates)! This is Eddie Smith. Unfortunately, I will be unable to attend the reunion. I am working with a number of other attorneys to provide legal assistance on a pro bono basis to families caught in the morass at the Southern border. I hope that you and your families are well. I hope that you have a great reunion. I wish for health and happiness for you; that such health and happiness enable us in gather together for our 45th. (snip) Peace! Go YANKEES!”

JERRY WAUKAU ’78 of Keshena, Wisconsin wrote: “I am sorry I can’t make it to the Reunion this year. We are burying a friend this weekend and I need to help with the arrangements with our local church. My family has increased by two this past year with the addition of two more foster children along with my two grandsons I am raising. I am still serving as the Health Administrator for our Tribal Clinic, which I have done for the past 33 years. We have grown over the years with a total of 140 employees and a budget of $25 million dollars. Not sure if this is important to anyone but I feel blessed by the foundation Ripon gave me and I will always treasure my time there. Our Elder Teachings tell us to give back to our communities and to give back to those less fortunate, which is why I have taken in the 2 foster children. I continue to do Hoops Basketball coaching and now I am doing Little League baseball. My younger brother tells me this is good therapy, but I wonder some days. My circle of mentors at Ripon has gotten smaller with the loss of Jerry Thompson, but we do stay in touch with Doc Young, and Doug Northrop. Give my best to our classmates and I will be thinking of you all this weekend. Keep the faith, Jerry “Gatie” Waukau.”

LISA WOLLAN ’78 of Valley Forge, Pennsylvania continues to keep Wisconsin in her life through visits to her cabin in Three Lakes and ongoing connections to the Ripon campus. She is planning a fall trip to the Canadian Rockies, hiking through Lake Louise, Banff, and Jasper as a great excuse to eat delicious food and drink fine wine. She serves as President of the Valley Forge Mountain Racquet Club and is a member of the Deltaville Yacht Club on the Chesapeake Bay.

In Memoriam:  

Freshman year classmate, JOHN BERTOLDI ’78, 58, of Niagara, Wisconsin passed away on Monday, July 13, 2015, at Bellin Hospital in Green Bay after sudden heart failure in the parking lot at Lambeau Field after judging a BBQ event. John went on to receive his bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan, and his master’s degree from Benedictine University in Lisle, Illinois. John lived and worked in Chicago for 12 years, working for Marshall Field’s Co. He returned to the Niagara area to work as the office manager of Bertoldi Oil along with his brother Jim Bertoldi. He loved his BBQ, especially the smoke of the BBQ. He was a certified KCBS judge and Table Captain. He was working on becoming a Master Judge.

JOSEPH BRUCKER ’78, 51, of Indiana Township, Wisconsin died unexpectedly Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2007, at his home. He lived in Indiana Township for the past three years, previously residing in West Deer Township. He was a fine dining waiter for the Duquesne Club and Common Plea Restaurant in Pittsburgh. He was an avid sportsman. (Class Agent note: I was on the Ripon wrestling team with Joe our Junior year. Joe was a great teammate and talented wrestler.)

ADAIN BUMBY ’76.  Details in Fall 2017 R Connections.

TOM CONNOLLY ’76: I remember watching Tom play guard on our Ripon Redmen basketball team with LUD WURTZ ’78, TIM “SULLY” SULLIVAN ’77, GEORGE GOODNATURE ’77, and others. Tom was this clever, resourceful guard that always seemed to have this impish smile and flair to his game.

MARK GREENE ’80:  Mark was a member of Reader’s Theater and a Mapes resident with HORACE GARFIELD ’78, JOSE ALEMAN ’78, TOM HARRISON ’78, and others.

JIM MARTIN ’78, 62, of Racine, Wisconsin passed away Sunday, June 3, 2018 at Froedtert Memorial Hospital, Wauwatosa.  On August 11, 1979 he was united in marriage to KATHLEEN “KATHIE” GIBSON ’78. He was employed by the Garvey Group for thirty-seven years, retiring January of 2018. Jim was an active member of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church where he was head of the acolytes and served on the vestry. He also served on the Board of Directors for Big Brothers Big Sisters and was a member of Harbor Lite Yacht Club. An avid golfer and fisherman, Jim especially loved time spent with his grandchildren.

TIMOTHY PARKER ’78, 59, of Janesville, Wisconsin passed away, at his home, on Saturday, November 14, 2015. Tim grew up in Janesville. He graduated from Craig High School. On August 1, 1981 he married the love of his life, Moe. He enjoyed curling, fishing, riding his motorcycle and the occasional trips to Las Vegas. Tim was a member and Past President of the Blackhawk Curling Club. He worked for Beloit Corporation in Beloit for 20 years. Tim had a quiet sense of humor and was known to be there to help out any friend who called on him.

JEANNE UETZMAN PORDON ’77, 62, of Brookfield, Wisconsin passed away on December 27th, 2017. Many of us will remember Jeannie as the ‘76 Homecoming Queen with JOAN MUCCI ESPOSITO ’78 on her court, with CHRIS ANDERSEN ’78 and JIM MARTIN ’78 acting as escorts for members of the court. I remember Jeannie as being friendly, humble, and incredibly graceful and skilled in sports. I also recall her treating me like a cat toy in our badminton gym class…you couldn’t win by strength, but by coordination, and she had that. Our own Ripon Athletic Hall-of-Famer, LOUISA GEBELEIN JONES ’78 had this to say about Jeanne: “Jeannie was an amazing athlete. A track star that I was in awe of everyday at practice. Such grace as she sprinted around the track or high jumped with ease – while I literally fell into the pole.”

GRETCHEN VAN NEST78, 56, of Rockford, Illinois died on Sunday, August 4, 2013, in her home. 

Class of ’78 Dominates Participation for Ripon #OneDayRally April 25th:  

In a sign of things to come on reunion weekend, we topped all other class year groups in participation by nearly 10% during the April 25th #OneDayRally with 48 donations!  Ripon’s director of annual giving, Kelly Nielsen, had this to say about the Class of ‘78: “What can I say but WELL DONE! It (was) so impressive to see the Class of 1978 take the lead over all those millennials on the #OneDayRally class leaderboard!”  The Class of ’78 was the only pre-2000 class to place in the top 10 for participation!  This effort by you wonderful classmates gave a turbo boost to our ongoing class gift collection and set the stage for a successful final drive in the final three months culminating with our reunion.

Class of ’78 Wins Class Gift Participation Trophy:  

70% participation!!!  The class of ’78 defended its possession of the Alumni Weekend gift participation trophy going away with the next closest alumni class more than 15% behind.  I want to thank all of you who opened your hearts and wallets to our class gift to the Annual Fund! We doubled our participation rate of 35% from last year to 70% this year!  As you recall, five years ago, with record support, our Class of 1978 accomplished something that no other 35th reunion class for Ripon College has ever done: we won the annual gift Participation Trophy with 63% of us supporting the Annual Fund.  We have set the standard for the school for charitably engaged class alumni. I want to especially thank classmates LIZ PECHA POELKER ’78 co-chair of the campaign, LOUISA GEBELEIN JONES ’78, and LISA WOLLAN ’78 for their leadership in outreach encouraging us to donate consistent with our circumstances for Ripon and its students!

Reunion Comments:

From Professor Bill Woolley: “Your class obviously dominated the whole week end from Awards Night to final breakfast. The class gift was also stunning.  Jean and I also want to thank (the class of ’78) for including us in the ’78 dinner on Saturday night. I thought afterwards that so many of my best memories of Ripon are tied to your class. There was that miracle class that Doug and I team taught that has created its own mini-reunion. And, a significant number of my favorite students are 78ers.”

From BILL NEILL ’67: “70%!!!!! FANTASTIC!!  Now to get the rest of our alumni to “understand” and join ya’ll! Well done ’78.”


Reunion Attendees:  


Faculty: Bill & Jean Woolley, CHRIS OGLE ’80, Larry & Betsy Miller, Marty Farrell, Elaine & Gary Coll, Bob Wallace, Skip & MICHELLE WITTLER ’76, Paul Schoofs, Bob & Carol Young, Diane Mockridge, and Norm & SUE BOOTHROYD LOOMER ’67.  Honorable mention: Spud Hannaford planned to attend as well but cracked 4 ribs in the days prior to Alumni Weekend.


Class Letter Updates:  I continue to need your updates to make this a worthwhile letter for your fellow classmates.  Please keep sending them in!

Hey!  What are you guys doing 5 years from now?  I hope most of you reading this said, “Attending the 45th year class reunion!”  Don’t forget-make plans to be there!  You will not regret it, unless you hate having fun and visiting with good friends and faculty!

Best wishes and warmest regards,