I retired in 2009 after a 42-year journalism career, 40 years of it with The Associated Press. I can honestly say that my career was about as fulfilling as one can possibly be. But retirement has been just as fulfilling, thanks to good health and a wonderful family.
After getting my BA from UW-Madison in January of 1967, and doing a six-month active duty stint in the U.S. Army at Fort Leonard Wood, MO, I married Judy Rosee of Skokie, IL., who I met in Madison, and began my full-time journalism career as a reporter/editor with the Rockford, IL, Morning Star and Register Republic. Less than two years later, I somehow lucked into a job with AP, starting as a reporter in the Chicago Bureau. Before it was all over, Judy and I had lived in Indianapolis, Cleveland, Westfield, NJ, and Wake Forest, NC. The last 31 years of my AP career were spent covering worldwide auto racing.
Judy and I have been married 52 years. If we didn’t already know it _ which I think we did _ the pandemic has shown us that we still truly enjoy each other’s company. We have two children and two grand children. Our daughter and the grands live a five-minute drive away and are part of our pandemic pod since the kids are doing virtual schooling and the parents are working from home.
We moved from North Carolina to Newton, MA (a suburb of Boston) in 2010 to help with the child care of our first grand child. Another grand child came along shorty after and we’re still here, enjoying the Boston area, with all its culture and sports and entertainment. Before COVID-19, we were doing a whole lot of traveling, which is more my thing than Judy’s. But she’s kind enough to go along with it. In the past five years, we’ve cruised through the Panama Canal, visited family in Barcelona, Spain, spent a long, romantic weekend in Paris, France and done a two-month, 7,000-mile coast-to-coast driving trip that included visits to numerous state and national parks and visits with lots of family and friends. Hopefully, we can do more traveling for fun when this pandemic is finally over.
Judy has always loved research and study and learning and has spent lots of time working at accumulating more knowledge while we’re mostly stuck at home. After years of talking about writing my memoirs so our grand kids and beyond would know who Papa and Bubbe were and what their life was like, I decided to use this extended down time to write a blog chronicling my life and times. I began writing two blogs a week in April and am still going strong. If anyone is interested in reading it, my blog can be found at mshapauto.blogspot.com.
I still keep in touch with several of my close friends from West High, including Barry Sweet, Jim Frank, Dick Weber and Jim Schwingle. I really hope we can all get together for the 60th reunion in August. Best wishes to all.
Lois Joyce Montague
After graduating, I went to St. Mary’s School of Radiologic Technology. I worked as an X-ray technician, married Kent Montague (still together after 56 years), adopted two boys, Scott and Kevin, who turned out to be amazing men. We have two grandchildren, Grace, a pre-vet junior at UWRF, and Austin, a senior at Dodgeville High School. Both of them are nice young people, and they seem to really like us.
Kent and I retired, spending our time between Wisconsin and Colorado. We love to ski, bike, hike, 4 wheel, and work in our woods, and my gardens. Not being able to socialize is the worst result of this virus. We miss our family and friends. We have been very careful because of this age thing. Hoping for a vaccine soon. I am still very close to Sandy Colvin, Linda Billington, Elaine Jacobson, Mona Stein, and Alex (Sue) Jackson. We lost Nancy Raymond to metastatic breast cancer this spring. She will be missed forever.
Raised with five brothers, by hard working parents, on the west side of Madison, met lifelong friends, had a wonderful education, married a guy I still have a good time with, and enjoy a fun family. Life is Good!
Jane LaCourt Ebert
After high school I worked at University Hospital as a nurses aid for three summers while attending U of Wis. during the school year.
I met and married my husband, and followed him in his career to Houston and Fort Worth, Texas for seven years. We wanted to get back to Wisconsin and requested a transfer. We moved to Wauwatosa, a Milwaukee suburb, where I became involved with boy scouting activities with our three sons. Remembering fun with sailing, back in high school, as a Mariner Scout (Girl Scout), we bought our first of three sail boats and joined a sailing club to race. Our sons became Sea Scouts (part of BSA) and toured to other events on Lake Michigan. I traveled with them as a chaperone (Sea Scouts is co-Ed).
Two sons were members of Music For Youth and traveled internationally. They needed a chaperone for a trip to Europe so I went too.
I’ve raised and trained a string of Shetland Sheepdogs which earned ribbons at State Fair for obedience.
In the winter months, while the kids were still home, I was busy knitting afghans for all my nieces and nephews as they graduated from high school. Each one was different to reflect each one’s interest. One earned a ribbon at the State Fair.
Another hobby is making hand-made paper. I make different colors and patterns and sold much of what I made at Old World Wisconsin as note packages or single art sheets. I recently taught a class for making paper.
After the last of my sons left home I became a lab tech at the Medical College of Wisconsin where I worked for over twenty five years in the newly formed pediatric Cancer Center. I was fascinated with research and the hunt for a cure. During this time, my first husband died and I remarried. I finally retired at 75 years old.
With in months my second husband died and I’ve been busy settling his estate.
Now, with COVID-19 I rarely get out. I was active with church choir, BSA and other community projects. All are virtual or nonexistent now unless social distance is observed.
Donna McDowell Beestman
This year, at age 77, I am finally retiring. Despite the limitations of the pandemic, my husband and I have been comfortable being at home and enjoying our gardens and backyard koi pond. We are also reading, hiking in local and state parks, and doing lots of Zoom calls with family and friends. During this difficult time, we hope and pray for justice, peace, and healing for families, communities, our nation, and the world.
A recap: After West High, I enjoyed my undergraduate experience at Macalester College in Minnesota then returned to Madison and married George right after graduating. He is the love of my life and we’ve been married over 55years. George earned his doctorate & I received a master’s degree at the UW. Our careers took us to St. Louis for 21 years and then to Wilmington, Delaware for 11 years. We moved back to Madison in 2002 and love living here.
We have two children. Our son Scott lives 10 minutes from us and owns a small business here in Madison. Our daughter Joan and her husband live near Washington, D.C. and are parents of our wonderful grandsons, Daniel, 17 and Zachary, 13.
My career work was varied, stimulating, and enjoyable. From 1991-2002 I was with Manchester Partners International, a career management firm on the east coast, serving as Senior Vice President & General Manager where I worked as a consultant, executive coach, business developer and international liaison. Earlier, I worked as a training director for a performance improvement consulting company in St. Louis, an executive director of an education policy non-profit, a high school librarian, and a teacher. For almost 30 years, I was a Career Strategist. From 2005 to 2020, I had my own business based in Madison, (www.CareerSuccessStrategies.com). I loved helping clients move into satisfying new chapters in their personal and professional lives. So, it took me several years to gradually say farewell to the work. But I am finally ready to embrace retirement!
Volunteer work and community involvement have always been a big part of my life. I continue to be active in Downtown Madison Rotary and Tempo Madison, a network of women leaders. Past roles included the Wisconsin Alumni Association Board of Directors; Oakwood Foundation Board; Forward Theater Company – Board; and, Presbyterian churches – Elder, Deacon, Trustee. During our years in Delaware, I served on the Transition Team of Governor (now US Senator) Tom Carper, chaired the Delaware Compensation Commission, and served a term as President of the Forum of Executive Women.
As we love US and international travel, this year has been disappointing. We usually take several trips each year. We’ve also hosted many international students over the years. Early travels on business or pleasure: England, Scotland, Holland, France, Italy, Switzerland, Finland, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan. Since 2006: Zambia, Japan, France, England, Croatia & Adriatic Seacoast; Baltic Sea cruise with stops in Russia, Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Finland, & Sweden; China & Tibet; Central Europe; Holland & Belgium River cruise; Hawaii; Turkey; Peru, Ecuador, Galapagos Islands; Costa Rica; and Alaska. In 2019, Eastern Europe: Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia, Croatia, and Hungary. Our plans to go to Tunisia and Morocco this year were cancelled, of course. We think our international travels days may be over, but we are grateful for our travel photos, friends, and great memories.
We hope in 2021 we can return to our Madison favorites: Concerts on the Square, Farmer’s Market on the Square, UW’s summertime “Grandparents University” with our grandsons, American Players Theatre, UW football, Forward Theater Co, Madison Symphony, and Olbrich Gardens.
I am grateful for West High memories and friends and look forward to celebrating our 60th Class of ’61 Reunion next summer!
During my high school and college years, I lived with my family out in the country, and so didn’t connect real close to the social life of either school. The teacher who influenced me most was Mrs. Riva, my high school English teacher–a very significant person for me, because I have since become a writer. She was the first person to see that in me, and I will forever be grateful.
Sensing a calling of some sort from God, I moved in 1965 to San Francisco to attend seminary; then I received a fellowship for an additional year of study in Scotland in 1969. The following year I started as a Presbyterian pastor in Corvallis, Oregon, home of Oregon State University. In 1972, God touched my life deeply in a way that permanently drew me to Himself in the power of the Holy Spirit. I visited my parents in Madison that year and told them of my experience with the Holy Spirit. The upshot of it was that my mom was dramatically healed of a brain hemmorage at St. Mary’s hospital, and was simultaneously healed of a back disability and an ulcer, all in a single day, through prayer. This sort of thing was dramatically changing my life, and improved our family interaction, to say the least. It gives an idea of the powerful intervention of God during those years.
During all this time, I married Carla, who has walked with me faithfully all these 53 years. Carla and I had four kids, including an adopted Korean, who has grown up from a nine-pound orphan baby to, today, a 49-year-old gifted public school teacher. Our son is a history professor in Lima, Ohio; two daughters married with kids, one in Richmond, Virginia, the other in Charleston, SC. The three biological children all have children, so we are now a family of 19.
My writings are mostly on Christian themes. My wife and I run a fledgling prayer center, The Clearing Where Eagles Fly, in Charles City, Virginia, the second oldest county in the nation. We have a special calling to pray for Native tribes, and God has put us on the very spot where white people (in 1614) first made a treaty with tribal people on this continent. (Charles City county is the second oldest county in the nation.)
In 2004, we were released from pastoral work; mostly today, we spend a lot of time in prayer. We also run a small guest house for people who want to get away and have some time with God. Our website is: TheClearing.us. You can find out more about us there.