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12/24/16 05:39 AM #67    


Michael Gordy

Happy New Year, everyone. Here below is a copy of the short speech I was asked to give at my Carleton 50th reunion last June. The topic was supposed to be "Facing an uncertain future", and the audience seemed to find what I had to say provocative. I'm sending it on because I think it may be helpful as we are forced to step away from the comforting assurances with which we have lived for most of our lives.


50th Reunion Talk

Carleton College, 16 June 2016


The subject of our meeting here is ‘facing the uncertain future’, which seems to imply that the uncertainty of the future is something new. But the future has always been uncertain, and if that really is a problem, it is a perennial one. A newer problem, and one that may be unprecedented, is the way that the future of humanity seems to have become increasingly certain over the past forty years or so. I’ve had a few thoughts about this that I’d like to share with you.

First of all, uncertainty about the future is the foundation of hope. No matter how bad things look, uncertainty allows us to believe that the future might hold some pleasant surprises, if not for us as finite, mortal individuals, then for the human race as a whole.  Second, some people try to relativize current problems by pointing out, for example, how dark things looked in the Western world in the 14th century, and how nonetheless humanity struggled through that time and eventually experienced a Renaissance. In that instance, of course, the Arab world and the Middle Kingdom conveniently kept the flames of culture and civilized behaviour alive, even   though our current punditry and Western-oriented scholars often don’t seem to think that this counts for much. So the West survived and now aspires to rule the world, or so it seems.

We have arrived at a stage of history where virtually the whole world is organized around a Western-originated system whose internal contradictions and material self- destructiveness are seemingly out of control, and where according to the system’s own logic it is unsustainable. In terms of human survival, that self-destructiveness is dragging us towards collective suicide.


Most of us who contemplate this are terrified, for we have been raised to think of the system as having a life of its own. We overlook the obvious fact that all social systems are the dynamic product of human interaction and that people acting together can in principle change all social relations. If we forget this fact, we become paralyzed, ensuring that a future that is still somewhat uncertain becomes certain. That seems to be what has been happening, but I think that things are starting to change. Before getting to this, however, let’s have brief look at several important features of our present reality. Two aspects of our current condition present particular terrors.

First is the economic system. Seen from the perspective of private monetary accumulation, which is the only metric that seems to count in capitalism, it is immensely more ‘profitable’ to speculate than it is to produce anything or to render any kind of non-financial service. Even sections of the business community recognize that this is unsustainable, but there are few serious ideas being put forth in that world about what to do about it. The inherent individualism and competitiveness of business practice makes a concerted, collective response from the top extremely improbable and, for most people, hardly imaginable. Everyone at the highest levels of the financial and corporate elite seems to be scrambling to grab as much as they can for themselves before the inevitable collapse occurs.

Second is the environment. Can we preserve a minimal physical environment that will allow humans to survive? The private accumulation of monetary profit makes that goal a fool’s errand. Any effective, widespread action just does not make “business sense”. For the past five years I’ve consulted with the World Meteorological Organization about the economic and political barriers to meaningful responses to climate change. This has led me to the brink of despair. I have concluded that “business sense”, like “business ethics”, is an oxymoron when applied to human survival.

The inescapable connection between what we call ‘our way of life’ and the rapid acceleration of all forms of environmental degradation should be obvious to any one of us who opens his or her eyes to the world and remembers what our physical environment was like when we were kids. The explosion of consumerism fuelled by the post-war


boom that many of us Americans enjoyed was expressed ideologically as the worship of ‘growth’, with little thought about what growth means, both environmentally and socially, when it is not subordinated to the need all of us have for a peaceful, healthy, equitable, and just life.

The boom times of our youth spoiled us and gave many of us a rather superficial sense of hopefulness. After all, we lived in a country that was the most powerful in the world, both economically and militarily. Ours was a life of possibility, especially if we attended an elite school like Carleton. Environmental degradation was not part of the dominant discourse then, nor did most of us have any idea of the effects our boom times had on so many parts of the rest of the world. So the subsequent disintegration of what we had felt was the normal course of things has come as a shock, shaking our sense of the uncertain future that I said was a foundation of hope. That is why, as the future begins to look terrifyingly certain, we mistakenly think of it as increasingly uncertain.

We grow old, and the hopefulness of our youth has passed into history along with the boom times. We worry about the future because, although we are near the end of the line, there are people we will leave behind whom we care about. And we sense that finding meaning in the present is pretty much impossible if we really believe there is no future for the human race. So what can we do?

The first thing we can do is to think about what is happening from new perspectives, opening ourselves to a more systemic and historical understanding of what is happening to us as a species. We can all do this by talking with each other and by expanding our conversations to include people who may not be part of our usual circle of interlocutors. If we really are people capable of making “critical and independent judgments” as claimed in the Carleton catalogue of our youth, and if we are capable of critical self-reflection as well, then what I’m suggesting is already part of our lives.

The second thing we can do is to recognize that piecemeal changes and tinkering simply will not do the job, and that a


far-reaching transformation of the way we produce, distribute, and consume on this planet is everyone’s most urgent task. If we do not do whatever we can to contribute to this, according to our present capacities, then that transformation will occur anyway but without our participation, and it will most likely have characteristics we will abhor. Without such a transformation we will be facing either a complete monetary breakdown, with all the suffering that this implies, or, if we continue on the path we are on, the destruction of the environmental basis of human life.

The first alternative is the more hopeful one, since if money loses its value, as would occur in a global monetary collapse, this will not mean that there won’t still be things to do, materials to do them with, and people who know how to do them. What it will mean is that the world’s social relations, insofar as they are based on money, will collapse. The things people do for money they will no longer do, and relationships based on the amount of money one has will be finished.  New social relationships, if they have a chance to emerge, will do so rapidly and will be based on two values that have little place in the present system except as pious hopes, namely, cooperation and sharing.  Must we await a global economic disaster to take steps in a positive direction? Or can we contribute to moving these values to the forefront now, even though we are in our dotage?

One of the more hopeful signs these days is that a great many people on the planet are beginning recognize the necessity for thoroughgoing change and starting to resist the direction in which we are headed. This resistance is opening up a space for people to think together about ways to stop the machine-like march towards human extinction. We need to enter that space. We need not only to think from the perspectives I mentioned earlier but also to seek openings to encourage and contribute in practical ways to this hopeful dynamic.

 I am well aware that what I’m suggesting does not constitute an answer. I’ve tried, however, to indicate first steps that people here can take. We know that ideas are powerful, and we must join together to contribute to ideas that offer at least the possibility of returning us to the uncertainty of the future. But we are also obliged to do what we can to help implement those ideas.  We must not allow a ‘certain’ future to overwhelm us. We are not permitted to ‘retire’.

12/24/16 05:52 AM #68    


Michael Gordy

PS: I remember Jill Romano with great affection. I, like so many boys in our class, had a big crush on her. I used to carry her books home from school in the pathetic hope that she would someday think of me as more than a puppy dog. I was heartbroken when she moved away, and I hope she has been having a fulfilling life. She had a sweet personality to go along with those dancing, dark eyes, and she was always kind to me. As all of you know, being 13 years old and in love is agonizing, and while she never led me on, she never treated me with any hint of contempt or mockery. Janet, please give her my best wishes (and take some for yourself as well).

12/25/16 01:46 PM #69    


Barbara Rauter (Hardman)

Had to join in after reading everyone's comments .....Especially about the Iodine - funny I had just been thinking about that not long ago - those tablets were so Cumberland sometimes the teachers let students pass them out - one always hoped they could try to encourage an extra one out of their buddy passing them out - but that never worked - at least not for me.  Does anyone remember our teacher Mr. Baker from the Cumberland days?  Remember all his crazy stories he would tell in his is a wonder we ever learned anything in his class - but I do remember that he went on and on about the virtures of All Detergent - to us 8th graders (or was it 7th grade?). I remember that but not what he taught - was it history?  And Mrs. Rotter (Ken's mom) was so special - she encouraged entroverted me to give the 8th grade graduation speech that I wrote.  Thanks, by the way to whoever scrounged up that 8th grade graduation photo from Cumberland.  Wow...that was a mind boggler and trip down memory lane.

So Merry Christmas to all from South Georgia where it is 80 degrees and sunny and perfectly gorgeous - do NOT miss snow.

02/05/18 10:34 AM #70    


Jennifer Smart (Anderson)

I have some very sad news to report.  I was informed last evening that Kathy Madland passed away on March 23, 2017, from complications from surgery, in Pennsylvania. I  have no further information.  She was a wonderful friend from grade school through high school.  Sadly, we get separated in adulthood and don't stay in touch as much as we should.  Please keep her family in your thoughts and prayers.


Jennifer Smart Anderson

02/06/18 07:40 AM #71    


Michael Gordy

I am very sad to hear about Kathy's passing. I knew her to be a sweet, intelligent person. I hope she had a good life. May she rest in peace.



12/14/18 07:11 PM #72    


David Stearns

Gary Gallup passed away November 28, 2018.  A link to his obituary can be found by clicking on his name in the Classmates list or by following the link below.  Gary never joined the site so he has no details in his profile.  

Gary W. Gallup, 75, of Campbellsport passed away peacefully on Wednesday, November 28, 2018 at St. Joseph’s Hospital, West Bend with his family gathered with him.  He was born on October 4, 1943 in Kenosha, the son of Wesley and Mildred (nee Seidemann) Gallup.  On September 23, 1977, Gary married Valerie L. Zbytniewski in River Hills.  Gary was a great dealer in antiques, a tinkerer and enjoyed western movies.

Survivors include his wife Val, daughters Tiffani Pries, Victoria Gallup and Rebecca Gallup, sister Jacquelyn (Reuben) Getschow, other relatives and friends.

Gary was preceded in death by his parents.

Funeral services will be held on Sunday, December 2nd at 2:00 PM at the Campbellsport Alliance Church, N1876 County Road V, Campbellsport.  Pastor Doug Birr will officiate and burial will follow in Union Cemetery, Campbellsport.

Visitation will Sunday, December 2nd at the Alliance Church from 12:00 Noon until time of services.

Twohig Funeral Home is serving the family with online guestbook and condolences are at

07/17/19 01:41 PM #73    


Ken Rotter

Long time since I reread these comments  Gertie the duck my grandmother had a Gertie duck bank which she bought from the Boston  store and  those wonderful pictures  from Cumberland  graduating class of 58 we were all raised right and many of us turned out well and are still living good lives by our standards  many still in our home community of Whitefish Bay I'm very proud to say I'm a village person and  return most every summer to visit my Mom Lorraine Rotter and  take a walk thru Cumberland and WFBH as well as the beach and parks that most of us played in. Glad to say many memories come rolling back  most everything is in its proper place as it was when we left itlots of businesses still in the Bay have survived some new places exist Fox Bay theatre Pandles  even the same steps leading down to the lake  are still there in good shape.May we all have good health and prosper till we meet again Happy Trails  to you all.  Ken Rotter class of 62

12/06/20 06:15 PM #74    


Jerry Thornbery

’62 Classmates:                    December 6, 2020

I am sorry to  report that my lifelong friend Bob Wolf died last night.  He had been in a hospital for several days and died of Covid-19.  

After retiring from the Brookfield Fire Department, Bob and his wife Cindy moved several decades ago to Ferryville, a small Wisconsin town, located on the Mississippi River, between La Crosse and Prairie du Chien. It was a place where Bob could hunt and fish to his heart’s content.

Once a year our wives and I would gather for an annual dinner in La Crosse.  At one of those dinners Cindy Wolf looked at us and said “You guys are so different.  How did you ever become best friends?”  Good question.  Maybe because it was in Bob’s nature to be a friend and not ask questions.

Today, in the midst of my grief, I thought of the time Bob and I reconnected twelve years ago.  Brother Norton had called up our Wisconsin cottage number and said “let’s get together.”  My wife Carrie and I drove out to Ferryville in our Subaru with an Obama bumper sticker.  If you knew Bob, you would correctly surmise that it was unlikely he would ever be a dues paying member of the NAACP.  And yet, when I showed up in Ferryville, Bob did not comment about my choice of a political candidate.  Instead, he was delighted to see an old childhood friend and excited to show me his place and talk about his recent activities.  

Bob’s treatment of me on that visit was a good lesson for this at-times narrow-minded liberal. Longtime relationships, whether it be family or friends, should be more important than politics.  And at a time when we find our country so badly divided, perhaps we can take a lesson from Bob Wolf’s philosophy and put aside politics when we are dealing with people to whom we were (and are) close.

I would like to end this remembrance on the upbeat, so let me tell you a few Bob Wolf stories.

Back in 2008, when we pulled into Ferryville for the first time, Bob had told me to call him.  “You will never find my place unless I show you the way.”  But when we arrived, Carrie could not get reception on her cell phone.  I walked over to the nearest bar (Ferryville might be small but it certainly can support more than one tavern) and asked the female bartender if I could use their phone.  Viewing this creature from another planet with some suspicion, she asked whom I wanted to call.  “Bob Wolf.”  “Wolfey?  I have his number right here.  Let me dial it for you.”  And I suspect that this was not the only local barkeep who knew Bob Wolf’s phone number.

A high school story.  One time Bob and I were going to the WFB rec center after a basketball game.  We had to show a WFB ID to a woman that to this snot-nosed, often obnoxious teen looked like a stern Miss Prune Face.  As Bob was searching through his wallet, a condom popped out, right in front of this guardian of the rec center door.  Just like the Fonz, Bob calmly picked up the condom, showed the woman his ID,  and coolly walked into the rec center.  Over a half century later I was recounting with admiration  this incident to Norton.  “Had it been me, Bob, I would have been shitting bricks, would have run through the rec center wall, and would still be running today.” Bob look at me with a smile and said, “Let me tell you, Jerry.  I was shitting bricks.”  Gosh, maybe Norton was just as human as as the rest of us.

Last high school story.  Bob and I were distant friends with John Engler, class of 1961.  With John, as with many others, Bob had a nickname.  For Engler, it was Cubes.  So that was what some of us called him through high school.  A mutual friend once asked me how Bob came up with that nickname.  Fifty years later I asked Bob why he called John Engler “Cubes.”  Bob looked at me and asked, “Who’s John Engler?”  And I think that says a lot about Bob and how he felt about high school.  He enjoyed this time at the Bay but he had moved on.

 Please, friends of Bob Wolf,  do not email or phone Cindy Wolf right now.  She is busy with funeral arrangements and dealing with the shock of her life.  If interested, and you want to send something to Cindy about your memory of Bob, write her.  She would appreciate that.  Cindy Wolf, 56138 Boma Road, Ferryville, WI 54628

Sorry  to be so long winded.  Thanks for indulging me.

                    Jerry Thornbery


12/07/20 09:31 AM #75    


Barry Leon

Jerry, I read your moving eulogy for Bob Wolf several times. It was really beautifully done and it's clear how much he meant to you. Bob and I weren't really close friends but we often walked to school together during our senior year after we moved to Berkeley and Fairmont. He was such a good-hearted, slightly goofy guy who never had a bad word to say about anyone. I haven't seen him since high school but I remember him so clearly and it's such a pleasant memory. Thanks for writing your piece, Jerry

Barry Leon

12/08/20 10:55 AM #76    

David Begel

Jerry, I thought your testament to Bob Wolf was amazingly heartfelt. I'm sorry for your loss and I appreciate your frank honesty about a friendship that meant so much. Best to you. Dave

02/26/21 10:12 AM #77    

James Silbermann

To Our Class of 1962

Today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has a notice that David Boxer passed away on Tuesday, February 23 in Orange County, CA.

My friendship with David was formed in our days at Cumberland School, continued through high school, and beyond.  Many thoughts are going through my mind, but the most prominent is noting that David had a most unusual sense of humor and quick wit.

Rest in Peace my friend, and to quote Bob Hope's tagline, "Thanks for the Memories."

Jim Silbermann 

Mequon, WI

08/10/21 04:37 PM #78    


Marilyn Dann (Steinback)

Class of 1962:
Whoever is in charge of this fabulous site, I want you to know that my e mail is changed. It is now
I am surprised that the only people writing messages come from Cumberland School. Let's hear from those of us who attended Richards! I am sorry to hear about some of our classmates who are now deceased. Covid has really been a bummer...I cannot believe that we are living through this difficult period. Please stay well everyone so we may be able to have/attend our 60th reunion.

08/10/21 05:01 PM #79    


Marilyn Dann (Steinback)

I just noticed in the "in memory" section that Ken Berkholtz passed away. I am so sorry to hear about it. Does anyone know about the circumstances of his death? Was it covid? Marilyn Dann Steinback

12/03/21 06:04 PM #80    

Gary Rosenberg

Dear Fellow Alumni, Class of ’62:

I am pleased to inform you that the WFB HS Class of ’62 Scholarship has received $7500 in donations this year.  This includes an extraordinary gift of $5500 from a single alumna as a Qualified Charitable Distribution (QCD) from her retirement IRA. 

  A QCD is a perk available to those over 70.5 years old, and is a withdrawal from an eligible IRA which your retirement account administrator (instead of you) sends directly to a bona fide, 501c3 charity.  The withdrawal is not taxed as income, is thus not deductible when you file your taxes, but it does count towards your IRS- determined Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) and thus reduces your income.  This can help you avoid IRMAA, a surcharge added to your Medicare premium if your income exceeds certain levels. 

  The Class of ’62 Scholarship at Whitefish Bay High School honors the best in us, strength of character and love of learning that our teachers, parents, and friends nurtured.  It reinforces that ethic in youngsters who have demonstrated evidence of it, regardless of their grade point average, and thus carries it on to the future. 

  Should you wish to follow your fellow alums’ example, you can ask your retirement administrator to send a QCD for “The Class of ’62 Scholarship” to:

Demaris Kenwood, President

Whitefish Bay Public Education Foundation

1200 E. Fairmount Ave. 

Whitefish Bay, WI 53217

For further information:

My best wishes for the holiday season and New Year, and with gratitude to a great group of alumni, 

Gary D. Rosenberg

12/04/21 07:39 AM #81    


Barry Leon

The other day we were about to go out for dinner and I took a sportcoat out of the closet (actually an armoire, but let's not quibble). As I took it off the wooden hanger the hanger came apart in two pieces. I thought to myself, "Geez, that was really poorly made." But then I noticed that the hanger had a blue and red/burgundy label on it that read "Colony Shop." Not even "Brills Colony Shop" which came later.

If I remember correctly, a less likely possibility with each passing day, it came with a blue zippered winter jacket that was purchased when I was in seventh or eighth grade so 1956, '57 or '58. So that hanger had lasted 62, 63 or 64 years. It was an antique and it caused a flood of memories to come forward. It's funny that I can remember that jacket better than what I did last week.

Not exactly a life-altering experience but I got a kick out of it.

10/26/22 11:04 PM #82    


Lauren (Patty) Karr (Golden)

I loved seeing my old friends in one photo - Linda, Bonnie, Linda P., Margie and Bobbie.  My heavens you all look beautiful!!  If you're ever in San Diego, email me so we can get together.

Lauren (Patty Karr) Golden

10/27/22 11:46 AM #83    


Lauren (Patty) Karr (Golden)

I posted this message yesterday but it seems to have disappeared!  I loved seeing "old" friends - Linda L., Linda P., Bonnie, Margie and Bobbie!  You all look so beautiful.  If you are ever in San Diego email me so we can get together.  

10/28/22 11:02 AM #84    


Jane Grossman (Chernof)

It's been fun hearing about school memories and stories. I'm wondering about what people are doing in their retirement years and unusual hobbies and travel experiences. We have a varied and talented class of creative individuals. So let's hear about what are you doing now? 


10/29/22 08:25 AM #85    


Barry Leon

I like your idea Jane. It seems that we might use this site more than we have. 

Insofar as Claudia and I are concerned, our passion in retirement is travel. Since we live in France, we can pretty easily travel to quite a number of countries and France has so much to offer. A few days ago, we returned from a three-week automobile trip to Aix-en-Provence (three days), Nice (two weeks) and Avignon (three days). We also made one night stops at Castelnaudary (going) and West of Toulouse (returning) to break up the drive - our rule is that we never drive more than four hours a day and typically we alternate every hour, so the driving seems to go pretty quickly. In fact, we enjoyed NIce so much that we may move there. Since Nice can be jammed with tourists in the summer, our thought is to do month-long (or longer) home exchanges with other older, retired couples primarily from Nothern European countries. We've done twenty or so home exchanges and have only had one bad experience.

Toward the end of last July, we took a couple week cruise with an outfit called Silversea Cruises (our first cruise ever!). It started in Greenwich, England, and went up the Norwegian coast exploring one fjord after another all the way to the top of Europe at North Cape. Claudia takes a lot of photos and does a travel blog that she calls ¨Not in a Straight Line¨ which you can see here ->  The thing that amazed me most about Norway, north of the arctic circle, was the amount of farming done. There were patches of green scattered all around with farmers growing hay, root vegetables and raising sheep. Of course, reindeer were plentiful and many were domesticated (to a degree) by the Sami people. The scenery was, of course, spectacular, as you will see if you go to Claudia's blog. 

In mid-December, we going to Malaga, Spain where we will hook up with our son, Ethan, his wife Lei-Lei and their nearly seven-year-old daughter Harper' who delights in my calling her Harpsidoodle. We will take several days to get there staying in Paradores along the way. They are old, sometimes ancient structures that have been converted into hotels. We have never stayed in one but were persuaded by British friends to try them out. So that´s what we'll do

Our only other planned trip is another Silversea cruise (since we surprised ourselves by loving the first. The small size of the ships helps a lot!). This one will go from Athens to Venice with stops in Albania, Montenegro, and Croatia in addition to other stops in Greece and Italy - 15 days in all. We told some friends from New York (a couple of lawyers but very nice folks anyway) and said ¨Wanna come?. They responded by saying ¨Yes!¨ and then they told some other friends from California, also saying ¨Wanna come?¨ and they said yes too! So we'll be a little group of six on the cruise and then for a couple of weeks more in Venice after which we will return home, exhausted and broke!! 

Well, that´s my story. Hope I didn't bore you. Like Jane, I'd also love to hear from others about what's going on in their lives.

All my best,


10/30/22 01:59 PM #86    

John Hirsh

HI Barry Leon,

Do you know Michael Gordy in France?

C U Later,

John Hirsh




10/30/22 11:37 PM #87    


Jane Grossman (Chernof)

 Thanks, Barry, for a very fun and informative update on your past and future travel plans with friends and family. My husband and I also love to travel. Last June we had plans to go to Poland and Croatia but we had to make a few changes because Poland was very busy with three million Ukrainian refugees. So we substituted Florence and Rome for Poland. We also included Dubrovnik and Split, Croatia and Tivat, Montenegro. Both very beautiful countries with interesting history and culture. We like to have guides and explore other cities with day trips which was perfect in Florence. Haven't been to Italy for several decades but decided we've seen enough of Rome, which made New York look clean and unfortunately it was very hot at 100+ degrees. We also have been lucky to book VRBO or Airbnb apartments if we are staying four or more days in a city. 

Our next trip is to Peru and Machu Piccu with our entire family, including children and  5 grandchildren, ages. 23-16. We are fortunate to be able to create wonderful experiences and lasting memories for everyone. There will be lots of wonderful photos to share after the trip.

Love to hear from others about travel plans or other interests. It has been fun living in Milwaukee and seeing the cultural and restaurant scene grow and develop since we've been teenagers. There are wonderful professional theater productions and a variety of ethnic and neighborhood dining options. 





12/06/22 12:40 AM #88    


David Stearns

Thanks to Jerry Thornbery for forwarding me the obituary of Ronald Schwartfeger. It should be posted in the Memory Page.  

Ron and I lived about a half block from each other on Santa Monica.  We had paper routes for the Milwaukee Journal and Sentinel.  I gave Ron my route when I had a hip operation after we graduated from Richards.  Ron was a super guy, unpretentious, humble and friendly.  Those early morning paper routes were great fun in the summer when we would catch up with the milkman and buy a carton of chocolate milk.  Winters, in the dark, were not so much fun,.  Ron's father was a pastor but contrary to his obituary, Ron wasn't always an angel.  We went to UW and both were in the Geology 1A class our freshman year.  We may have been in the same dorm but we studied together religiously (no pun), testing each other with old final exams we got from fraternities and both A'ced the class.  I lost touch with him after graduation.  It is good to know he had a productive and long life.  

12/19/22 12:08 PM #89    


Jerry Thornbery

Dear Classmates:

Thanks to David Stearns, our two eulogies about Ron Schwertfeger were posted on the In Memory section of the WFB 62 website.  In case anyone missed it, I also am posting mine here in the Message Forum.  Any mistakes in formatting are mine alone. 

Ron was a good man and as I think about him, I wish I had done a better job of staying in touch.        Jerry Thornbery

Remembering Ron Schwertfeger

Several weeks ago I learned that our classmate Ron Schwertfeger had died.  Since then, I have been reflecting on my time with him, some sixty years ago.  Of course, some of the specifics of that interaction have been lost to the fading and failing memory of time.  For example, I can’t recall if Ron and I were IM basketball teammates or if he played with his good friend John Quackenbush on a rival squad.  But there is no question that Ron did much to enhance positively my time at WFB.  David Stearns’s characterization of him as “unpretentious, humble, and friendly” succinctly describes a terrific guy.

Ron always had a story or two to tell about his most recent adventure or misadventure, navigating adolescence.  One of my favorites was the decision he made coming home late one night on Santa Monica.  “Why should I drive an extra block to make a U-turn so I can drive a block back to turn into our driveway,” he thought, “when if I just cut across the grassy median in front of my house I can get home more quickly and get an extra five minutes of sleep?”  Unfortunately, Ron failed to notice the near-by parked squad car of one of WFB’s finest.  And there, in Rev. Schwertfeger’s driveway, Ron got a traffic ticket.  I never found out if he asked the officer for a PK discount.

Both in high school and in college we played a lot of cards together—poker, sheepshead, and cribbage.  My father taught me the fundamentals of the latter two games, but it was Ron who fine-tuned my card-playing skills.  When I first started playing cribbage with Ron, he would slide the deck over for me to cut, which I did.  “That’s a point for insult,” Ron would say, moving his peg one space.  “By cutting the deck you imply that I am not an honest player.”  I’m still not sure if I had been conned, but to this day, when playing cribbage, I think of Ron as I decline to cut the cards.

Ron was a thoughtful person.  An incident at our family Lake Michigan cottage illustrates this point.  Shortly around our high school graduation (either before or just afterward) my parents supervised a group of classmates for a weekend of cards and maybe golf (I remember the cards, but not the golf).  What I vividly recall about Ron and that weekend, however, is that he helped to organize a gift for my mom who had fed this motley crew for the weekend while they were at the lake cottage.

Several years later, at the beginning of spring break, Ron phoned to see if I was home from college.  My mother told him that she was on her way to Ripon to pick me up, and, if he was free, maybe he would like to ride along.  Evelyn Thornbery could be a very private person who liked her space but clearly Ron had made an impression on her as she welcomed his company.  Reflecting back on this incident over the years, I still marvel that the two rode up to Ripon.  I chalk it up to Ron’s character and personality that he could have had an impact on a normally aloof person like my mom.

One of the things we did on that trip was to drop off a college colleague at Billy Mitchell Field.  On the way back from the airport, my mother was navigating the streets of Bay View as she listened to the college chatter in her car.  Suddenly, from the back seat, Ron piped up, “Mrs. Thornbery, I think we might be going the wrong way. “ And yes, we were going south instead of north on Kinnickinnic.  Now, my mom knew Bay View well, as my dad had grown up there as a boy and his brother lived there for seventy years. In telling that story and laughing at herself, Mrs. Thornbery saw Ron Schwertfeger as the hero of her tale.

After college, I moved to Atlanta. Ron and I lost touch.  In early 2021, however, upon learning of the death of his younger brother Jim, I briefly reconnected with him through a letter and through email.  It would have been hard for either of us to believe that a year later his wife would be dead and that in less than two years Ron would pass as well.

I would like to close with a paragraph from Ron’s email, written on January 24, 2021, for it supplements things that are in his obituary.  He wrote as follows:

            I worked at a number of sales jobs over the years ending with 18 years as a   manufacture's rep. covering eastern Wisconsin and the UP of Michigan  selling equipment to process liquid and solid materials.  Mary and I spent 20 years in Whitefish Bay and the past 20 in Mequon.  I am now retired  since   2008, playing golf, tennis and platform tennis in the fall and winter   months.  I also enjoy investing in the stock market….  As I age my memory is becoming more and more "fuzzy."  I vaguely remember your cottage "get away" but not the trip to Ripon….  I still play cribbage with   friends.

Ron Schwertfeger was just a super fellow.  I am a better person for knowing him

                                                                                    Jerry Thornbery

                                                                                    December 17, 2022


01/11/24 04:43 PM #90    

Bruce Wiggins

I have enjoyed reading some of the history articles about sports including some great Class of 1962 teams and performances.

01/12/24 04:17 PM #91    

Bruce Bendinger

I also read the WFB track memories. A nice jog down memory lane if you were on the team - or were close to some that were. Salutes to Brian and Tom Dakin - exceptional high school athletes. Go Bay!!

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