1977 – Spring ’21 Class Letter

1977 – Spring 2021 Class Letter

Greetings, Class of 1977!

Serving as our Class Agent means that I write one letter each semester that is sent to members of our class. I’ve been in this role since the spring of 2010 when NANCY BERRY TOLLESON ’77 phoned me one evening and asked if I’d be willing to rescue her from the Class Agent role that she had been serving for five years. She had followed in the footsteps of LARRY MALCHOW ’77/P’14, MARSHA TOLL ’77, and CLAIRE SANTARELLI GREGOIRE ’77. It has been a great privilege to have this role. If you have dreamed about taking over, talk to me, otherwise, I’ll keep serving.

This has been fun because it has brought me closer to our college than I had been in most of the years since 1977. And it has occurred partly during the years that two of my children attended and graduated from Ripon. Between this role, being a parent, and attending some of the annual Alumni Weekends, it sometimes feels like college wasn’t really 44 years ago.

I like hearing from you (either directly, or through notes you send to the College) because it helps me write this letter. I noticed that this time I’ve heard from three women, all with the letter “J” beginning their names. Let’s have some more variety in my next letter.

Class Notes:

JEAN “J.J.” VAN NAME ’77 moved to the Bay area of California in 2018 primarily for the strong Shakespeare community and has been cast in five plays, recently receiving a BATCC (Bay Area Theatre Critic’s Circle) nomination for Best Principal Actress in the San Francisco premiere of THE CAKE.

JANE STURTEVANT ’77 of Surprise, Arizona, writes, “I traveled to Iceland just before the pandemic started. Gorgeous place, so glad I went!”

JEAN BLACK ’77 of Inverness, Illinois, replied to my Facebook request for news to share: At the moment, nothing significant to add, just varying episodes of sadness throughout the past year. We were saved as a year ago we were set to sail on the Grand Princess – the one that couldn’t dock because of COVID-19. Wow! So, after that lots of bird watching, yard work, walking, cleaning, and dealing with several family health scares. Now constantly shoving mounds of snow and chipping inches of ice off of our driveway while waiting to get the vaccine in our arms. Looking forward to getting out to see people again!

Personally, I am finally free of a job. In October I decided my employer wasn’t respecting COVID-19 safety enough, and I was worried. With only five months until my planned retirement date, I decided to leave a bit early. I must say that I enjoy retirement and the change in responsibilities. I had been an IT Department worker and was always on call.

I was a member of the Beta Sigma Pi fraternity. The fraternity ceased existence years ago. But we had one member, Harvey Keck, a very mysterious guy who seemed always to be around while apparently unseen. (Okay, he is a myth.) In the past several years Harvey has been sending emails to all of us and has gotten us to start having monthly Zoom meetings. Because most of us didn’t know each other, and others have been forgotten, one of our members (MIKE ZEHFUS ’76) took on the role of collecting short “bio sketches” from the brothers and then sharing. That’s been fun to read. Any interest in doing something like this with our class?

MICHAEL POULOS ’77 shared something with my fraternity brothers, and I’m sharing with you. In 1976 the College celebrated its 125th anniversary. In 2021, we celebrate the 170th anniversary. Michael wrote, “For the 125th, I conducted the brothers of Beta Sigma Pi kazoo band, and then I conducted the Ripon College Chamber Singers in my own ‘Choral Variations on Happy Birthday Ripon College’ in a packed Memorial Gym.” You can hear his recording here.

You may be aware that Ripon College has been working to increase the size of its endowment so that it has the money it needs to help students attend an affordable school. In March, it was announced that the endowment had grown to $100 million. Zach Messitte, Ripon College’s 13th president, said: “The larger the endowment, the less we have to rely on students’ tuition dollars. Over the decades, alumni and friends have been incredibly generous, believing in our mission. They have donated their time, treasure and talent to make sure our future will continue to be bright.” We are still growing the endowment and welcome your help. To read more, click here.

As you know, Ripon College is always seeking donations. The fiscal year ends June 30, so this date is always mentioned in fundraising appeals. Normally we have an Alumni Weekend in late June, just before that deadline.

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.

I believe this letter will be emailed to you, so perhaps this announcement will reach you in time. Ripon College will celebrate One Day Rally (#OneDayRally) on April 28. This is a newer tradition. At its core, #OneDayRally is meant to bring everyone together as a community to celebrate an institution that has shaped the lives of so many in unique and similar ways. Join us in reaching our goal of 2,021 donors in 20 hours and 21 minutes! 

Last year, 2015 donors contributed $1,918,598 for the Ripon Fund and the new Emergency Assistance Fund. Please join us this year. We’re even having a photo contest if you have an old picture, or even something newer, to share, click here.

Remember that your financial help is very important to help keep Ripon a competitive and quality institution. Your donations are important every year. Your participation is very important.

Here is a picture from Alumni Weekend in 2019. Pictured from left to right are: JEAN BLACK ’77, MARYJO MACSWAIN ’77, Myself (Alan), CONNIE JESS ZOLKOSKE ’77, and my wife Diana P’08/P’14. Inspire yourself to attend this summer, or any summer. Our class has a five-year get-together in 2022 to celebrate our 45th anniversary of graduation.

Please send news about yourself either to the College or to me to be shared in our next Class Letter. We’d love to hear from you. Also, if you aren’t already a member of the Class of 1977 Facebook group, please join.

Always for Ripon, 

ALAN LAWRENCE ’77/P’08/P’14

(920) 730-9515 / [email protected]

Your 1977 Class Agent