55th Reunion - Page 6

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50th Reunion

55th Reunion

Info Pack


Libby Barnard Farmer
Ralph Farmer

53 years of marriage, 2 kids, 3 granddaughters, all in Madison. Newest edition: our rescue pup Tater Tot — typical beagle, adorable but naughty.

The 5 lovely ladies in our life                                                        Tater Tot
(daughter, daughter-in-law, and 3 granddaughters)

The Boys

We miss you, Marianne,
Love, Karen, Libby, Peggy, Kathy and Linda, the Regent Girls.


Klaus Helms

Although I can´t make it this year to our reunion West High is still on my mind, also because my older brother, Evert, class of 58, still has some connections to old friends from West High.

I retired seven years ago, having been a teacher and psychologist (M.A. from UCSB). Karla, my wife of 42 years and I still live in our 200-years-old farmhouse which we renovated many years ago. We spend our time doing volunteer work (helping young immigrants, reading to kindergarten children, managing a sculpture exhibition of African sculptors and above all by being active in nature protection). The rest of the time I divide between an old water mill which I keep running with a friend to saw wood the old fashioned way and several bee hives to produce my own honey. Once in a while I take my four-wheel-drive and with a friend travel to far off places – like Australia and Latvia last year – to enjoy the country side off the beaten track and to play in the mud or dust.


Ed Gulesserian

Fully retired since 2008. Twenty years in the Army and 20 years in business. Living in Atlanta which we like a lot. Trips to Wisconsin once or twice a year, which we also like a lot.

It dawned on me one day that there wasn't any job and perks worth sacrificing any part of my remaining years. Retirement was a short, quick step, and better than I had imagined. Now life is a bit simpler, but still full. Nothing revolutionary but it's all good: kids, grand kids, friends, trips, reading, movies, golf, etc. It's the freedom to get up each morning and do the things that sound like fun, and not do the things that don't sound like fun. Haven't worn a watch since the day I retired; don't even turn on my cell phone for hours at a time.

Sandy and I have been together 17 years. She is better than terrific. We feel lucky to have found each other. Between us we have five kids and six grand kids (and a dog that is a bucket-of-love).

I've worked with all kinds of people in all kinds of situations in all kinds of places. For whatever reason, I gravitated to intense organizations with their distinct challenges. It was never dull and could be fun (if I let it). Today those issues that used to consume my time seem of little importance, although they can make for lively conversations with good friends. One thing we all agree on is that other people have successfully stepped into our positions and not missed a beat - no matter how irreplaceable we thought we were.

I couldn't end without saying how much I've come to appreciate Madison in general and West High School in particular. I was lucky to have grown up there.

Ed Gulesserian


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Donna McDowell Beestman
George Beestman

View a PDF version of Donna's bio. It opens in a new window.


Kim Rellahan

After 47 years of being perched on Bond Market trading floors in Chicago, New York and London, I retired in 2013. My wife Minna and I moved permanently to our summer property in Finland, 40 miles north of Helsinki. Rather like countryside living and with 12 dogs and 5 cats under our roof and a couple of horses in the stables, our travel time has been limited to annual trips to London and our favorite Hotel Covo Dei Saraceni in Positano Italy. We would really like to make a visit to Wisconsin, last 1985, but I guess memories will have to suffice for now. Hats off to Karen, Peggy, Ed and all the others that keep this 1961 class to be so well informed....cheers everyone.


Gary Richard Johnson

Retirement? What’s that?

I will be in Madison the week before the reunion with my son during UW’s Grandfather’s Weekend – albeit, I am not a Grandfather, yet.

Regrettably, I need to fly out on this coming Sunday the 31st of July. I wish I could stay and be there to see everyone, but unfortunately, other commitments can’t be changed.

In my absence I extend my best personal regards to everyone in the Class of ‘61.

On the home front, I’m still managing and running the real estate portfolio that I have been diligently acquiring over the last 42 years. Since this is more then a fulltime job for more than several people, I am actively looking to liquidate, what has now become a much appreciated portfolio, and turn it into a passive, (easier to manage) mobile home park(s).

But, by far my biggest personal commitment and greatest joy is being able to raise my rapidly growing 12 year old son Garrett.

We enjoy the benefits of living in our lakefront home in Mission Viejo and travel as much as time permits.

Attached are some recent photos, including one from the Badger’s Holiday Bowl win over USC.



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Gene Wells

The two most significant events in my life during the last five years involved members of the West High classof 1961.

The first was the celebration of life service for my brother Gary, who died of lung cancer on May 31,2015. It was held at the Buckhorn Supper Club near Milton, Wisconsin on September 26, which would have been Gary's 71st birthday.

Joe Jackson picked me up at my apartment that morning. Then he picked up my younger brother Bruce, from the West High class of 1970. After that we headed Eastand he picked up Jim Scrivner, who was at a car show near Jefferson. Then we turned South to the Buckhorn, Gary's favorite restaurant. Gary was able to visit it frequently since both his daughters live in Janesville.

At the Buckhorn I was able to revisit Gary's wife Mary, their twin daughters Linda and Lisa, and Mary's brother and sister. Pat Slattery was there, along with several other members of the Eliminators Car Club. I also met several of Gary's co-workers at Nicolet instruments. Several of them immediately recognized me as Gary's brother, even though I had never met any of them before that day. It seems Gary and I grew to look alike over the years. I don't think we looked at all alike in high school.

During our meal, we had a chance to tell our stories and remembrances of Gary. Mine was from our time in boy scouts. It went farther back in time than anyone else's.

Afterward we walked out onto the pier and released balloons into the air.

The second major event for me was the 50-year reunion for the UW-Madison class of 1965 in October. Jeff Bartell was on the reunion committee and presented my 50-year pin to me. Others from our classwho were there included Pgggy Burgdorff, Randy Marks, Tom Rogeberg, Warren Wade and David Walsh. Karen Hult Scheele was there with her husband, who is a 1965 graduate.

In all, it was a memorable fall of 2015 for me.


Dawn Holmes

I was so looking forward to coming to this reunion, but I have had to change my plans. I still have my real estate company, Holmes Realty,llc "There's no place like Holmes" and work occasionally. I only have a few agents now.

I also still do some commercials and promotions for products and hotels and occasionally as an extra as we have so many movies filmed here. I have enclosed a birthday photo from this month and a commercial promotion for "Two Faced" that I did in May.

My husband that I was with for 35 years passed away 8 years ago. He was with me at the last reunion I was able to attend.

If anything changes at the last minute and I can attend I will let you know, but as of now I will not be able to be there.

Miss you all, Dawn Marie Holmes



Karen Daggett Wertymer

After graduating from West and then the UW, my husband (John Wertymer) and I married, and spent time in Panama and the Canal Zone where he had ROTC duty. We returned to Chicago in 1967, both attended the U of C for graduate school, and then moved to Park Forest IL. We moved to Evanston IL in 1973, and have lived here ever since. I got a Master’s Degree in Social Service Administration at the U of C in 1981, and have worked as a clinical social worker since then.

My husband John and I celebrated our 50th anniversary a year ago, and continue to enjoy good health, our careers (mine as a psychotherapist and his in real estate) and many good times with our 3 daughters and their families (which include 6 phenomenal grandkids ages 5 – 19) and all of whom live very close to us. Three years ago we sold our home and moved into a lofted “walk to everything” condo space and love not only this efficient way of living in a community we love, but exercise regularly, continue to enjoy art, theater, and music events, new and old friends, and are both involved in volunteer work.

Life is very good!


Jack Novick

Since our last reunion, Jeanne has retired after 7 years as CEO of the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce. She is enjoying the time off, but is still doing Business Consulting (Strategic Planning, Operations, Leadership development) and Motivational Speaking.

Her disabled son has moved in with us so we can help him more and monitor his needs. I am doing a lot of Math tutoring of individual high school students. After 30 years in the classroom, I feel I am finally able to do some real math teaching, vs classroom management. I love doing it and the kids really appreciate it.

I am also volunteering for local non-profits. I tutor their staffs on them how to use Word and Excel more efficiently. They don’t have the funds for this kind of training, but desperately need it. I still play tennis 4 times a week and love it as much as before. (i.e. tennis bum) It is an easy way to get my exercise, have social contacts and release some stress. I am now a certified tennis instructor and work at a tennis camp each summer at in northern Michigan.

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Peggy Ahlgren

After spending almost 35 years making functional pottery in an old remodeled cheese factory in rural Spring Green, WI, I decided about 10 years ago that it was not a wise idea to live alone in the country as one was heading into their mid-60's. So I started looking for a place in the Madison area. My criteria was that I wanted to live where I could see the sun set. I found a condo on the north east side of Middleton (sort of near Waunakee) looking west over the Pheasant Branch Nature conservancy.

I am blessed to have sand hill cranes in the area. They wander about my neighbor's back yard most summer afternoons, a perfect spot for me to see them from a comfy chair in my living room. An occasional turkey will wander onto the patio or a little red fox scurry along the hedge.

I have been volunteering 2 days a week for the Alzheimer and Dementia Alliance of Wisconsin doing office work. Am now accomplished at being able to copy something on both sides, collate and staple all in one stop. I'm also great with both the postal and folding machines. So different from making pottery. This group was really helpful years ago as my mother began a journey with dementia and I'm glad to be able to help them now.

I also do lots of work here at the condo. We have 32 units and I try and keep the grounds looking nice and also fuss with numerous invasives that are in the Conservancy that borders us for about a block. My particular enemies are garlic mustard, buckthorn, burdock, nettles and thistles.

I knit scarves and mittens for a senior organization - RSVP - for kids in the Madison area. The mittens are a tribute to a dear friend who died of cancer. My mom had taught her to knit when we were kids and Betsy made the most unusual and wonderful mittens.

Winter will find me in Puerto Vallarta Mexico out in the Bay looking for humpback whales. They are spectacular. This bay is one area where they go to in winter to mate and have babies.

I work with Robin Allin and Jeff Bartell to help fund our Class of '61 Educational Foundation. As a class we have really made a difference in the behavior of kids at West by helping to fund the "Respect Retreat" for their 9th graders.

My other mission is to try and keep track of each and everyone of you. For me, we are a very special group. I hate it when someone is added to our "Forever 18" list.

Please let me know when you move so we don't lose you. I expect in the next few years many of us will move to be near kids, one level housing or places where we can get a little more care.

P.S. I feel that we were really lucky to be born during the Golden Age of Childhood.


Sue Royston Ullsvik

Here are a few fairly recent pictures of my husband, Tom, and I and of our 7 grandkids. Thanks for handling this huge task. See you this week-end.


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Mary Thomsen

It is interesting - now that we are both retired, we seem to be busier than when we were working! Fortunately, we are both in good health and are able to pursue our interests, participate in community programs and do some volunteer work. Travel to different parts of the world , which is one of interests, has been richly rewarding. In the past 10 years we've traveled to Asia 3 times, visited the mid-east twice and recently returned from South Africa.

Like many of us, our priorities are shifting to adjust to the realities of growing older, which has led to down sizing from our five story home to a condo, and I would imagine that we may consider a "life-time" community sometime in the future.For the present, the lure of the city with its myriad of activities, has kept us on Beacon Hill in Boston. The importance of family and friends is also an influencing factor in how we allocate time and make decisions.

Although we are attempting to live by the "less is more" moto, we "fell off the wagon" and did purchase a vacation condo in NH on a lake where we spend the summer and fall months splashing around in the lake with friends and members of my husband Harold's family, as well as some members of my family who are willing to travel out here.

Our intellectual lives are satisfied by a seminar program which provides courses on subjects as diverse as literature/science in the news/foreign affairs. and other topics which lend themselves to the seminar format. Our culture kick comes from the music, theater and art institutions all easily accessible from our Boston condo.

Finally, I would be remiss not to mention the professional opportunities now available to young women. In our world, as we knew it when we were attendingNakoma grade School, Cherokee Heights and then West Hight School, most of our mothers were house wives. Society and college curriculum most often steered us towards either teaching, nursing or social work. How wonderful that women are encouraged and welcomed in professions of science, engineering, physics, business as well as many others. And now, perhaps, a women as president. Incredible!

Enough said. If you want more info on us, come and visit. We'd love to see you. We wish all of you good times, good health and whatever else it takes to keep you happy.


Ed Grob

After 3 years in the Army, I returned to Madison, worked at Gisholt Macine Company for 5 years, then decided to continue my education. When that was complete, I went on to work at several machine tool builders over the next 37 years. In Y2K, I decided to start my own web design and hosting company. I sold it in 2013 to pursue my avocation, photography. For 13 years I was an Adjunct Professor at Rock Vally College in the Computer and Information Systems Department, and I spent 2 years as Adjunct Faculty for the University of Toledo as well. I truly love to teach! I won't be at the reunion because of a prior commitment.

A Chinese Crested with a haircut similar to mine!

Riverside Park Beloit WI


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