1963 – Spring ’21 Class Letter

1963 – Spring 2021 Class Letter

Greetings, Class of 1963!

What a year it’s been. I believe we all feel sorry for today’s high school students, college kids and recent graduates – no doubt some are your grandchildren – whose education, job hunting and maybe even marriage plans have been turned upside down. I imagine, however, that Ripon students today are still managing to enjoy their college days for the same reasons we did; e.g., dormitory bull sessions, meeting new people, and most of all the friendly small school atmosphere. 

Good news regarding this year’s Alumni Weekend. Alumni Weekend 2021 will be unlike anything we’ve ever seen with two distinct summer weekends of Ripon alumni programming for us. No matter how you’d like to connect, virtually or in person, the Office of Constituent Engagement is developing a variety of activities to continue to follow CDC, Fond du Lac County and College guidelines in both June and August. Full schedules, lodging, and programming details will be posted soon to www.ripon.edu/alumni-weekend.

JUNE 2021

  • In honor of our June Alumni Weekend traditions, virtual alumni programming will be held Tuesday, June 22 through Saturday, June 26, and will include: an alumni town hall, R Connections webinars, affinity socials, a summer book club, and special recognition of the 2020 and 2021 Athletic Hall of Fame Inductees. 
  • The only in-person event, the Doc Weiske ’50 Memorial Golf Scramble, will be held off-campus on Friday, June 25

AUGUST 2021

A combination of virtual and in-person Alumni Weekend programming will be held the first week of August. We will continue to evaluate the state of COVID-19. If circumstances change at the local and national level and we need to cancel in-person programming, that decision will be made and communicated by July 1, 2021.

  • Virtual programming will be held Tuesday, August 3 through Saturday, August 7 and will include: a reunion-focused alumni town hall that also previews the new academic year, additional R Connections webinars, the summer book club capstone, and the traditional “That Was Then” storytelling session. 
  • In-person, on-campus programming will be held Friday, August 6 through Sunday, August 8, and will focus on alumni awards recognition, 2020 and 2021 reunion celebrations, and other outdoor events such as Rally Run and prairie walk.
  • Additionally, the Class of 2020 will officially be welcomed to our alumni community with a special commencement ceremony.

Class Notes:

STEVE ASTMANN ’63 of Scotia, New York, ([email protected]) is a featured alumnus in the 2021 winter edition of the Ripon Magazine. The article relates how the Ripon College experience turned his academic life around, to include his earning a Ph.D. in higher education and in 2015 establishing the Juventus Endowed scholarship at Ripon for students who display skills and strengths but who have not excelled academically.

JUDY ELLICSON KOVARIK ’63 of Aurora, Illinois, ([email protected]) writes, “DICK KOVARIK ’64 and I are at our condo in rainy Pawleys Island, South Carolina. Seems like at least an inch each day, and flood warnings are out for all the rivers in the area. But, it is much better than all the snow and freezing temperatures back in Illinois.  

We have been fortunate to get our two Pfizer shots already, now just waiting for the arms to feel normal again. It is quite different here than at home, restaurants are open as are just about all other services. Mask wearing, although required, is not totally followed. 

The biggest disappointment of 2020 was the lack of family get-togethers. With youngsters and college-age grandchildren, we have been very careful, mostly for us, but for them also. Hopefully, we will be able to hug all of them soon.” 

JOHN NEUBAUER ’63 of Solona Beach, California, ([email protected]) writes, “Ripon has always occupied a space in my life after I chose to not attend Albion College in Michigan. It was a great school but Ripon was in my future. I love Ripon and now attribute that to Dr. Messitte. What an incredible college president! 

I had the perspective of returning to Ripon after a year spent in Madrid where I learned a life-long love of the Spanish language and the Europeans’ love and respect for the United States. Friends I made there continue today. President Zach Messitte had the exact same experience in his foreign studies. 

Like all, I have found that COVID-19 changed my life. I choose to currently work, managing a global business in 43 countries that require my language abilities. Do I wish I retired 15 years ago? Of course, but my solace is in that I have made hundreds of friends around the world of different races, religious beliefs, and political choices and see that all have the same desires we have: family. The U.S. is not the center of the universe but is an example of a country that promotes individual growth and exceptionalism as compared to their home countries. They seek my counsel as I run their sites. People of the world are amazingly the same. We love holidays, family, traditions, and the “hope” of things getting better. And there is always much to improve. 

Personally, I have learned to live alone after my wife’s passing, and with memories, go on to whatever my life is becoming. It is uncharted territory for me but one I wholeheartedly embrace. My Ripon community is helping me in this next stage of life. I am beyond grateful.

My twin, DAVID NEUBAUER ’63, our family historian, keeps me aware of our classmates and shares with me his visits.” 

MEREDITH RAPPRICH SPEERS ‘63 of Santa Fe, New Mexico, (m.spears @att.net) writes, “I have been living in Santa Fe, New Mexico, the City Different, since 2007 and have never regretted leaving the East Coast or the Midwest. My 51-year-old identical twin sons from my first marriage are both living in the East and we hope to get together when it is safe to travel. New Mexico’s governor has managed the Pandemic very well in my opinion, especially considering the difficulty of dealing with the lack of health care resources in the state’s numerous Native Pueblos and Tribal Lands. It is difficult to “wash your hands” all the time when you don’t have running water where you live. All the stores around here require masks and a limited number of people in the store at a time. Bars and restaurants have been closed until recently when in some counties limited indoor dining is allowed. In our area, I have not seen people refusing to wear masks, but there are some southern parts of the state where it has been an issue and some businesses have refused to close or require face coverings. Cowboys For Trump will ride their horses and carry their long guns where they want to, when they want to, and don’t believe that COVID-19 is anything but a hoax invented by Democrats. 

My partner, Séamus, and I had to cancel a long-planned six-week trip to Spain, Portugal, France, Wales, and Ireland last spring. We thought at the time we would just reschedule it for the spring of 2021, but as time went by we realized that was not feasible. There are many great things about living in Santa Fe other than the amazing scenery and wonderful weather. One of those is the availability of a variety of music. I have been a season’s ticket holder at the Santa Fe Opera since 2007. We were really looking forward to having picnic dinners beforehand in the opera parking lot and then seeing five great operas in July and August 2020. Everything was canceled, as it should have been. The Chamber Music Concerts were canceled in July and August. The special performances that were scheduled throughout the season were canceled. The twice a month year around Jazz Concerts we so enjoy were canceled.  

Instead of going out, we found our entertainment in the house and surrounding area. When the weather was good, we hiked with our standard poodle dame, Cleo. We both read a great deal. We watched lots and lots of sports (I almost understand the game called Football by the rest of the world but still called Soccer here). Our music library got a chance to shine. We were amazed at what we had gathered over the years. And we watched old movies on DVD. I have always loved Jimmy Stewart’s 1950 film Harvey, so we watched it this week. If you have not seen it ever, or not for years, it really is worthwhile taking another look.  

After giving up cruising sailboats in the early 2000s because my second husband was ill, we switched to motor homes. After he died in 2013, I bought a small travel trailer and the pup and three kitties and I traveled back and forth to the East Coast several times a year. Séamus and I upgraded that trailer to a slightly larger, 22 feet, little Airstream trailer a couple of years ago. In early August we felt that the NE corner of New Mexico, which has very few people living there, seemed to be a safe place to visit. We found an open private RV campground (state campgrounds were closed) near the Capulin Volcano National Monument in the Raton-Clayton Volcanic Field. We put the pup and kitties in the Jeep, hooked up the trailer, and off we went. Both of us learned a great deal about that part of the state, and were able to stay away from everyone for the five-day trip. It was nice to get out and about. 

In early September, we waved goodbye to the animals and a house sitter and headed off for a four-week road trip. This trip’s ultimate goal was to reach Yellowstone NP before the winter snows started flying and celebrate Séamus’s 80th birthday. We stopped in Moab, Utah, visited Arches NP, then headed north toward Yellowstone. A strong blizzard had come roaring down the Rocky Mountains and had caused some of the roads I had wanted to take near the west side of the Tetons to be closed, so we changed our route a bit to get to West Yellowstone. We spent seven days there. The west coast, Oregon and Washington, was on fire at this time and we had a couple of days where the visibility was less than great, so we visited parts of Yellowstone that did not require being able to see for miles. From there we headed to the south entrance/exit of Yellowstone and into Jackson Hole for four days. As we drove toward the town of Jackson, the Teton range was to the west of us, our right. I pointed the mountains out to Séamus but he could not see them. The smoke was way too bad. Two days later the smoke lifted and there were the Tetons, just where I had promised him they were! What a spectacular sight. We left the Jackson area and headed to Boise, Idaho to see friends, and then started slowly working our way back to Santa Fe. We felt safe during our travels. All but two meals were in our trailer, and the two meals “out” were served on patios at restaurants. I saw no one without a mask at fuel stops or grocery stores. Restrooms were closed at all the campgrounds we visited, but that was fine because we have our own in the trailer. I was able to do laundry at a couple of campgrounds by making a reservation and having the entire place to myself.  

Till the next time Wayne asks for information: Get your COVID-19 vaccine. Wear your Mask. Wash your hands. Stay Safe.  

CLIF RANNEY ’63 of Dallas, Texas, ([email protected]) writes, “Thanks for sharing the passing of JOHN KIRCHGEORG ’63. Really nothing to report from the Ranney household. Travel was seriously curtailed in 2020, after a very busy year of travel and photography in 2019. Wishes for good health and happiness for all.”

ARTHUR SCHARFF ’63 of St. Louis, Missouri, ([email protected]) writes, “My family and I are well. COVID-19 has taught me new ways to be happy, including lots of new cooking recipes, guitar, Master Class (an incredible educational website), and Noom (you may have seen their ads on TV) for a 30 pounds weight loss and more exercise miles logged in six years of keeping track. Not bad for an old fart! I am planning on going to Florida for a couple of weeks in April and a Tauck Tour by riverboat in October, COVID-19 willing. Life is good.”

DAN SCHULTZ ’63 of Silver Spring, Maryland, ([email protected]) writes, “My wife and I have just received our second COVID-19 vaccine shots and we are looking forward to venturing out a bit again with friends to an outdoor restaurant or two here in Palm Beach Gardens where we stay for the winter months. Feel badly for all of those who still have to wait for their vaccine shots, including some of our children, and our hope is that by summertime we will be able to have our children and grands visit us at our lake place in Wisconsin.  

I have been spending a good amount of time these past two years as the curator of the artwork of my deceased sister, DIERDRE SCHULTZ LUZWICK ’67, archiving all of her artwork for long time preservation and attempting to promote her drawings and gain her a wider audience and reputation. If anyone would care to see examples of her artwork, you can visit her website (luzwickart.com) or her Facebook page which I monitor and where I post her drawings on a bi-weekly basis (currently we have over 1,100 followers). A labor of love as they say, but hopefully at some point she will gain the recognition she deserves as one of our country’s most talented artists in modern times. I came within a few strokes of shooting my age in golf earlier this month. Stay safe and well.”  

ROGER WHEELER ’63 of Southbury, Connecticut, ([email protected]) writes, “I just want to say that living through this COVID-19 pandemic was a unique experience for me especially seeing the lockdown in New York, a city that I grew up in and went to school by riding the subways in the 1950s.” 

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Classmates We’ve Lost: 

PATRICIA DRABANT ’63 of Davenport, Florida, died Oct. 23, 2020. She attended Ripon College and studied business administration at Nova Southeastern University. She worked for Dow Chemical in Colorado. She and her husband, Evert Bancker, enjoyed traveling and lived in the south of France throughout the 1960s and 1970s before settling in Florida. She worked in the legal department of Walt Disney World for 20 years and was a key player in managing Disney’s real estate, expansion, infrastructure, and the launch of ESPN Wide World of Sports. Speaking fluent French, she also helped translate and provide guidance for the launch of DisneyLand in Paris, France in 1992. She retired in 2010.

JOHN KIRCHGEORG ’63 of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, died Jan. 13, 2021. At Ripon he majored in philosophy and participated in student government and Delta Upsilon. He later was a charter member of Partners in the Legacy. He was president and founder of LIFE Corp. in Milwaukee, where he held six patents and trademarks on medical equipment. He also worked in the banking industry. He was a member of several professional organizations and was appointed to the governor’s Wisconsin International Trade Council and the Wisconsin Export Management Company Task Force. He enjoyed classical music, the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Milwaukee Ballet, and boating. (I was a roommate of John’s in our Junior year and considered him a good friend — he will be missed.) 

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In closing, I’d like to acknowledge the classmates who have donated to the Ripon Fund and/or to the #OneDayRally. Our class donated a total of $37,425 this last fiscal year. The College thanks you. Please keep Ripon at or near the top of your ever-growing stack of donation requests.

Just think, in two short years in 2023 we will be celebrating our 60th Reunion….By then COVID-19 will be just a bad memory and, hopefully, a lot of us will join our classmates for a big celebration!  

Stay Safe Everyone! 

WAYNE WOLFGRAM ’63

(313) 550-5094 / [email protected] 

Your 1963 Class Agent