1976 – Spring ’21 Class Letter

1976 – Spring 2021 Class Letter

Greetings, Class of 1976!

Hello Classmates!  

We are sure most of you are glad to put 2020 in the rearview mirror and are looking forward to some sort of return to normalcy in 2021! I (PETER TUZ ’76) had my first COVID-19 vaccine shot last week and can’t wait for the second. Having a daughter in Germany with our three grandchildren, not being able to travel was the real bummer for me in 2020. We are sure many of you have similar stories. Feel free to share them with me ([email protected]) or MICHELE BARAN WITTLER ’76 ([email protected]). 

As you plan your year, one event we would like you to add to your 2021 plans now is our 45th Reunion.

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.

In the meantime, since our last Class Letter we have heard from DAVE SCHWIER ’77 who is retired, living in Minneapolis, has had COVID-19, and is now enjoying a well-deserved trip to Costa Rica with his wife KATHY CULLEY ’80.

Fellow Minnesotan, PHIL JENNI ’76, continues his work as executive director for the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Minnesota, mostly remotely from his home in Black River Falls, Wisconsin. Like many of us, he hasn’t been able to visit his children and grandchildren who are living in Madison.

GERALD ROTHROCK ’76/P’12 is now officially a snowbird, spending half of the year in Maine and the other half (plus one day) in Florida where he and his wife Liz ’P12 purchased a house in the past year.

CHIP SOUTHGATE ’77 and his wife MARCY BILLINGTON SOUTHGATE ’77 have lived in Keene, New Hampshire for 30 years. They have four grandchildren. He, DAVE SCHWIER ’77, and PHIL JENNI ’76 took a bike trip around Wisconsin’s “Driftless Region” a few years ago and were able to visit Professor Bill Woolley P’92 at his home in New Berlin, Wisconsin. Chip shared the accompanying photos of the three bikers as well as one of Dave, KATHY CULLEY ’80, Paul Axelrod P’12, Michelle Fuerch P’12, Marcy, and Chip on a trip to Costa Brava in 2018. They all look exactly the same to me. 

CANDI HUTCHISON ’76 writes, “I am back in Colorado after a longer than originally anticipated time in Louisville, Kentucky. Up until Louisville, we had lived in several places, each for a handful of years. The impetus for the locale was to experience various parts of the country. The south-central region, in my opinion, is an unsung jewel, both in beauty and history. I’m not sure what had us embedded in the area for so long but the snug complacency seemed to deaden an inner vitality, so it was time to wake things up. I went to grad school in Boulder and spent my early adult years there. When it was time to pull up stakes, I knew then I would return west someday. I wasn’t sure it would be Colorado but here I am in Loveland, Colorado. I thought I would rebuild my staging and home/business styling company of 15 years here, but I should have known since my intention for the move was a psychic angioplasty, opening the channels for enhanced flow, that trying to recreate the same situation could not occur. Over a few months, I would set up staging appointments with homeowners and realtors and a plethora of extraneous reasons lead to most being canceled. It became quite humorous and a resounding ‘OK, I get it,’ prevailed. In waltzed COVID-19 and out sprung brushes, paint, and an expanded dedication to my fine art. Like with most new ventures, getting the word out is part of the leg work. I am using our Class Letter to do just that. (Thank you MICHELE BARAN WITTLER ’76 and PETER TUZ ’76 for picking up the well-championed job from JULIE CARLSON ’76 and connecting us once again.) I invite you to visit my website (candi-art.com), share it with others, and give an original art piece to someone special. This year is our 45th Class Reunion and stepping out from around the corner is our 50-year Class Reunion…oh, my gosh! Ripon memories remain vivid and those experiences were a rich and vital launchpad.”

TOM BROMAN ’76 of Barneveld, Wisconsin, spoke via Zoom on November 11, 2020, for Dr. Barbara Sisson’s “Biology of Cancer” class at Ripon College. The discussion centered on President Richard Nixon’s “war on cancer” and the impacts it has had on technology and research. Classmates MICHELE BARAN WITTLER ’76 and STEPHEN PUGH ’76 also joined via Zoom for Tom’s discussion.

ELLEN COLE SMITH ’76 of John’s Island, South Carolina, writes, “We are moving after 22 years in Atlanta to Seabrook Island, South Carolina.”

MARK TESIK ’76 of Portage, Wisconsin, is a chaplain at Columbia Correctional Institution in Portage, Wisconsin. He is thrilled to see our new Class Agents are hard at work and looks forward to our 45th Class Reunion in 2021!

RICHARD RUSSO ’76 of Grand Rapids, Michigan, is a new member of the Ripon College Board of Trustees. The official announcement can be accessed here.

KITTY NORTON ’76 moved to Springfield, Virginia, in January 2020 to live with her son, daughter-in-law, and granddaughter. She has been working with Wells Fargo Advisors for the past 22 years. She wishes us all a happy and safe 2021 and adds that she’s ready to travel and would like to see friends and fellow 1976 classmates JULIE CARLSON ’76, KAREN VOWELS EARLE ’76, and RUTH ANN STODOLA ’76

We also have some sad news to share:

WAYNE G. DAVIS ’76 of Winterset, Iowa, died Nov. 6, 2020. At Ripon, he majored in art, worked on WRPN radio and College Days student newspaper, and was a member of Beta Sigma Pi. He was an advertising director for Mills Fleet Farm, vice president of advertising for Central Tractor Farm & Family, and director of marketing for MicroFrontier. He was owner/president of TYPExpress and Digimage Arts where he used his skills in photography and videography in website development and marketing. He enjoyed traveling and served as a documentarian and ambassador for the Madison County Chamber of Commerce and secretary for the John Wayne Birthplace. Survivors include his wife, Kim; and one son. His first wife, PATTI CARVER DAVIS ’76, died in 2002.

We hope to hear and/or see from as many of you as possible in 2021. 

Stay safe!

Peter Tuz ’76

[email protected]

Michele Baran Wittler ’76

[email protected]