2020 / My Journey (N – Z)

Joan Ranney Westgard

Before my retirement in 2000, I was the budget director for the UW System.  In that job I worked with the campuses to interface with the Governor and Legislature to secure funding for all the UW System campuses, including UW-Madison.

Just prior to my retirement I started an antique business  – “Pieces of Time”.  We had been collecting for over 40 years so this allows us to cull our collections and find items that I can put into my collections or sell at the shop.  I have a booth at the Odana Antiques Mall.  I sell a general line of antiques but specialize in quilts and other linens.  Its been a great hobby business for the past 20 years.

Jim and I along with our son, Sten, started a business based on Jim’s career in quality control for hospital labs.  Jim retired in 2008 from his role as lab director at UW Hospitals.  Since then we have spent most of our time with Westgard QC Inc.  Jim and Sten travel around the world sharing their knowledge about quality of laboratory tests.  We have been so lucky to work with medical technologists in every  continent.  Jim and Sten also write books about quality in labs and my role is to get them shipped. Right now all our work is online but we look forward to getting back in the field.

During the quarantine we are strictly following the guidelines – wearing masks, washing our hands, staying home.  We are able to do our work for Westgard QC online so Jim and Sten have participated in numerous webinars to help laboratories with Covid 19 testing. You will be happy to know that the testing has improved greatly in the last 6 months.  The first tests we not very good but now they are generally very accurate.

Beyond work, we have learned how to do curbside pickup at various local restaurants — its fun to supplement the home cooking routine!  We are reading more books than I ever imagined — both fiction and nonfiction. I’m trying to keep up with at least some of the books on the NY Times best seller list.   In addition, we are  really enjoying watching mystery series on TV — we especially love Nordic Noir set in Scandinavia.

Just one final word about family.   My Mom died a year ago in September – she was within 2 weeks of her 100th birthday.   We miss her but are grateful that she is at peace.  Three of our four   grandchildren are college age.  Maren is a junior at Wesleyan in Connecticut, Henry starts at Connecticut College this fall, and Linnea starts at TCU in Texas.  Alex is a junior in high school.

Chester Rideout

Thanks for your efforts in getting a 60 year reunion going – here’s hoping you will be free of Covid restrictions by that time!  I’m currently living in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania, and would find such a journey tough at this time especially after our current move.

My career included high school and college teaching; it mostly was in the natural sciences (biology, earth science, and related subjects), and before I retired in 2004, I helped build an observatory at my high school, and taught day and nighttime classes in astronomy to kids from the three high schools in our district.  Astronomy was a major interest of mine in my West High Years, and this was an incredible opportunity for me.  The observatory (housing an 18” computer driven telescope, and they have recently added a 24” scope) is still in use for classes, and for visiting groups from local schools.  For hobbies I did lots of trips with my wife and two kids, backpacking, canoe camping and, cross country skiing. 

After retirement we moved to Port Townsend Washington, and switched our interests to ocean Kayaking.  I had a double kayak as well as three different singles – we paddled between the San Juan Islands, camping at a number of campsites reserved for self propelled watercraft.  One of my hobbies is photography, and it was fantastic to use pictures to record the animals and plants of the area.  I switched from backpacking to bike touring (my aging knees insisted), riding in western states and Canada.  My longest tour, from Jasper Alberta to Grand Teton Park was 1,000 miles, pretty much along the Continental Divide.  In Port Townsend I performed with a folk music group for about 5 years, which was a super experience.

In 2014 my wife and I loaded up our belongings in a big Penske truck and pulled our car to a new home in eastern Pennsylvania, so that we could be closer to our two children, and to our new grandchild.  My son Vale now has two, and our daughter Leenya is married.  Both have performed in numerous areas in vocal music, and Leenya also plays several instruments.  Lynn and I (shot below) have now been married for 54 years, and we’re currently working on moving about 30 miles south into E. Stroudsburg, to be closer to the kids.

Covid has been difficult to navigate, especially our experiences in the current move.  One week after I advertised my home (in March, and one week after starting to look at properties), the entire real estate market shut down in Pennsylvania for around two months.  I am finally beginning my move next week – it is the 10th move for Lynn and I, and as I tell people, my next move will be into a stylish URN.  Good luck to all my former classmates! 

Richard H. Severn

I’m FINALLY retired and no longer a Registered Engineer ( was for 48 years). Kept going for three major clients, after “retiring” in 2009 and completed ten more major projects for them.
The last one is a 22,000 SF  tractor-trailer repair facility that replaces one I did in 1973. { Job No. 36 for that client.}  I have hundreds of buildings scattered about Wis., and it’s fun to see many of them as we drive around the state. The most noticeable one’s may be the Packer Practice building done with Bart Starr, or the ABERDEEN APT. at the end of Univ. Ave. So I guess I put my BS 66 and MS 68 in Structural Engineering from UW Madison to good use. 
Dubious claim to fame: I’ve worked on every bar on State Street, and many near there, like Dotty Dumpling’s, Wando’s and the Nitty Gritty.

I was surprised last year and this winter at how much I remembered of the shots and strategies as we watched the Curling events on TV. I only managed to do it one year at West, and I still had my Ice Broom when we moved onto the farm. Sue and I are on  a farm South of McFarland where our daughter raises horses, and I tend to my 400 year old oak tree.

Married Susan J. Bonneau in Kenosha in 1965. Sue and I have a son, Richard Alan, a daughter Stephanie Lynn, and two grandchildren, both now in college.

We had been traveling with our 5th wheel trailer, but that has been curtailed for the summers due to buying a trailer home on Red Cedar Lake just North of Rice lake. Got tired of fighting my old boat and trailer, so I bought a new “state of the art” fishing boat last year, which led to finding the trailer.

My other hobby is photoing Cemeteries and entering the data into “Find A Grave” web site. Have about 45,000 photos  and 23,000 entries entered. 

We’re trying to go to Arizona for winters, but that was cut short this year. Sue and I will celebrate our 55th wedding anniversary this year and am hoping there are many other of our classmates  doing about the same.  We still go to the Village Bar in Westmorland  for hamburgers… Used to walk past it on the way home, and thirty five years ago, we would see Don McCloskey in there playing cards in the afternoons. That reminds me, I also served communion  in church to Jim Stevens and Kathleen (Schuette) Stevens.
 I also need to thank Mary Muckenhirn for the weeks (8) of detention for saying “I didn’t need to learn this stuff because I will have a secretary”. She taught me English every afternoon and while I hated it at the time, it did pay off. Technical Writing was the only class in college that paid me to take it.
PS  Dick Schantz…. I have an extra two week old egg salad sandwich…  I remember that you liked them in our locker. 

Chuck Siemers

I just reviewed my bio for the fortieth reunion and will try to give you a short followup.

Peggy and I had just celebrated our thirty-first wedding anniversary. My daughter, Heather and her French husband, Gilles were newlyweds and my son, Shane, was an undergraduate at the University of Wisconsin.

Now, Peggy and I have just celebrated our fiftieth wedding anniversary, my daughter is a high school French teacher and my son is a lawyer.  My granddaughter will enroll at McGill University this fall in Computer Security and my grandson is entering high school.,

Peggy and I enjoy our retirement cruising (34 cruises/306 sea days), attending Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra concerts, going to Milwaukee Brewers baseball games, enjoying a variety of restaurants and cuisines visiting our children and spending time at our lake home “Up North”.

I just lost my second Seeing Eye Guide Dog, Rana, to cancer and will get another in the Spring of 2021.

Due to the Covid19 Pandemic, we are not cruising, attending concerts, going to baseball games, or eating out. We have not put our boat or pier in Up North, and I can’t make definite plans to fly to Moristown New Jersey,  to partner up with a new dog at the Seeing Eye. Instead, we are hunkered down in our Cedarburg home, listening to the city due a four month major road and infrastructure improvement, including side walk replacement.  The noise and construction dust keeps us indoors more than we would like, and in short, we are getting a good case of “cabin fever.” I should be thankful that it is not fever associated with the pandemic.   All in all, with the political insanity and pandemic gripping our country, the year 2020 is one I would like to put behind me and look forward to better times ahead.

On a brighter note, Peggy and I, our children and our grandchildren are all in good health and are optimistic for a brighter future.

Richard E. Sinaiko

In the fall of 1961, I enrolled at UW as a freshman and shortly thereafter came down with Infectious Mono at the end of the first semester.  In the fall of 1962 re-enrolled and continued until my graduation in January, 1966.  During my student days, I lived on campus and got a job as a waiter at Lowell Hall.  My college days were very enjoyable living in various apartments on campus. A highlight of those days was accompanying the Badger football team to the 1963 Rose Bowl in Pasadena.  We got on the student charter flight at Truax Field on December 26th when it was 20 below zero and with a foot of new snow on the ground.  We landed at LAX 6 hours later and it was 80 degrees and bright sunshine.

In the fall of 1965, I met a freshman at Lowell Hall from Beverly Hills, California.  Long story short, we became engaged in December of 1965 and were married in Beverly Hills on August 16, 1966.  Upon graduation with a degree in Political Science, I applied for and was hired by IBM in Madison to join the Office Products Administrative Staff.  In March of 1967, we traveled back to California for the Spring break. We spent the 10 days experiencing all that Southern California had to offer; a few days at the beach in Malibu, a few days in the Palm Springs area with my in-laws and 2 days skiing in the Lake Arrowhead Mountains.  I returned to my job at IBM and in July resigned to move Los Angeles.

Our life here over the past 53 years has been quite varied and truly a wonderful experience.  We have two sons, Jeffrey and Gregory, and 3 granddaughters.  From 1967 until 1974 I was in the retail furniture business helping to expand the existing business owned by Patti’s grandfather adding 7 additional locations.  Having found the retail business in Southern California requiring 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year attention, and having a young family, I chose to leave that business at the end of 1974.

In January 1975 I was hired on a government program for the unemployed during the 1974-75 recession by the UCLA Medical Center.  I spent the next 13 years at the Medical Center in various positions ultimately being named the Chief Financial Officer. In 1985, I was recruited and hired by the largest proprietary hospital corporation to serve as Deputy Director and Chief Operating Officer of its Academic Medical Center Division.  I was responsible for overseeing all of the activities within the Academic Medical Center community across the United States.  This required extensive travel nationally and it became obvious I was missing the opportunity to see my family grow and develop.

In 1987, I was recruited and hired as Assistant Dean of the USC School of Medicine responsible for managing their 400 physician Faculty Practice and all Ambulatory Care locations.

In January 1991, seeing an opportunity to leverage all of my prior experience I left to form Sinaiko Healthcare Consulting, Inc.  Our services targeted all of the areas where I had had previous experience and I was able to attract employees who had expertise in each of them which made us quite marketable.  This was the beginning of  major changes in our delivery system as the costs of care were increasing at a major and unsustainable rate.

One of the major changes was the requirement was that all claims for payment now required the assignment of a diagnostic code.  In response to this we created a separate company, The Coding Source, LLC to provide outsourced coding services to Hospitals, Large Medical Groups and other healthcare entities.  In November, 2007, The Coding Source was named the Second Fastest Growing Private Company by the Los Angeles Business Journal.  This publicity had an immediate impact on our position in the market and within a very short time resulted in inquiries from potential buyers.  Seeing this, we immediately merged the two companies into The Coding Source Holdings, LLC and sold the entire business to a large Private Equity company, Parthenon Capital Partners.  I remained active as CEO Emeritus for 3 years before retiring in 2010.

My retirement life has been quite delightful as Patti and I have traveled extensively around the world, have delighted in having our son Greg, his wife Marcie and 3 daughters living very close by so that we have been able to be involved in their lives and see the 3 girls grow up to today when they are all beautiful young women. Shayna has just graduated from UW Madison and remains there working. Samantha will be a junior at Palisades High School and Jamie will be a Freshman there as well. Both girls have become incredible dancers.

So, my life has turned out to be much more than I could ever have imagined, but through it all, I increasingly appreciated my experience growing up in Madison when I did and the memories and values gained which are ever present today.

Pete Smith

I heard from Pete’s wife, Dee, around Christmas 2019 and she told me that Pete was dealing with Alzheimer’s.  Number one on his “to do”  list was attending our next reunion.   Early July Dee wrote to let me know that the disease was more advanced and he had become very difficult and argumentative.  She had placed him in  memory care back in September.  He has lost considerable weight and continues to walk continuously with a “stutter step”.

I did hear from Pete in November of 2018.  Here is what he wrote then.

I’m sorry for missing the past reunion.  My mother died 3 years ago.  My brother and sister asked me  to bring my mom’s ashes to plant at Brooklyn.  I did so silently.

Jim Montgomery offered me a bedroom in his home. Very politely.  He re-introduced me  Sharon Tessman, Pat & Joyce Karas.  Again I hadn’t seen any of them since I joined the submarine navy.  When I departed after 7 years  I was requested to work for Key Technology.  They are manufacturers for processing food and improved process.  After I was moved up I spent the next several years overseas.  Japan, Australia, England, Scotland, Poland, Greece, Turkey, and others.  As I worked in the US I worked in every state except Vermont.  My time at KE kept me near.  My work sent me out a lot and bring in as much as 70 to 80 every year. While my wife worked as a hairstylist, and very well.

However, Dee was moving her Christmas presents toward her car, but a dimwit ran into her cart which knocked her over and broke her right leg.  We sent her to Seattle for recover.  A year later I was hospitalized to clear my system of West Nile Virus.  I cleared in February.

There’s probably more but only carple tunnel that cleared in September 

I hope to see you and whomever is left next Summer.

A quick but I am the news man for out local submarine base and Hcquire needs monthly.

Paul Sorum

Update since my 2001 statement:
My wife Christie died suddenly and unexpectedly in 2005; I have been living alone since then (with our dog until he too died). Our daughter Eve, who specializes in English modernist literature, married a creative writer, and both of them are tenured associate professors at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. They have a daughter (now age 14) and a son (age 9).

I continued my same professional activities at Albany Medical College and occasional trips to France until 2 years ago, when I semi-retired and moved to a condo in Boston, 4 houses down from Eve and her family.  I have been returning to Albany a couple of days a month to see my last patients and to teach, and in February I led my 3rd team to a rural health clinic in Uganda (and I am attaching a picture of me waving to some kids there). But I plan to retire fully at the end of this year.

Increasing problems with my low back and hips made me give up tennis and even jogging, so my exercise is reduced to walking (usually while listening to a book). I have had the pleasure of seeing Fred Lerdahl, Mike Mulvihill, and Dorothy Rollefson from time to time recently and would be delighted to catch up with other classmates out here whenever COVID allows this; my email is sorump@me.com.

Mike Spangler

I’m grateful for many years as a Christian minister, serving both in Presbyterian churches in Kansas, Illinois, Arizona, and Iowa, and in several international, non-denominational congregations, including three years as the American Protestant Chaplain in Moscow, USSR (1975-78), five years in Brussels, Belgium, at the American Protestant Church (1982-87), and three years at the Salzburg International Christian Church in Salzburg, Austria (2006-09). More recently I’ve served two brief pastoral interims at the international church in Vilnius, Lithuania.

My wife, Liz, and I live our retired lives in her hometown, Sheboygan, Wisconsin, staying moderately active with volunteer activities, camping trips, long walks, and so on. The Lake Michigan shoreline is an ever-changing delight, as are our fourteen grandchildren, whom we hope to start seeing again in the coming months, virus protocols permitting.

Chris Sterling

Ellen (West High, ’62) and Chris moved out of Washington after nearly four decades working “inside the Beltway”. He originally retired from George Washington University in 2011, but was asked by the arts and science dean to take on a part-time associate deanship (partly as he’d played a similar role in the late 1990s). After five years of that, he retired again—this time for good—in June 2016.

No longer faced with a commute the possibility of moving became more realistic. They ended up in Fredericksburg, Virginia, midway between Richmond and Washington, close to a daughter and amidst a host of Civil War battle sites.  They settled into a 1965 single-floor rambler surrounded by trees and wildlife, which they promptly enlarged by converting its carport into a library for their good-sized book collection.  

But intended travels were not to be making them appreciate their extensive earlier trips here (all 50 states and most Canadian provinces) and abroad including one around the world. So they read, enjoy nearby friends and family (including several grandkids–and four great grandkids), and electronically link with those farther away. Having met during a West class officer campaign in May 1960 (remember “Go Wright with Woolsey”?), they celebrate their 55th wedding anniversary in October. Life has been good . . .

Barry Sweet

I became interested in photography in 1960-61 when I joined the staff of West’s  High-Times.  I was given a Speed-Graphic camera, which captured images on 4×5 negatives.  My first break was being selected by the Wisconsin State Journal to attend a conference in Detroit where high school journalists competed for scholarships and sent news stories back to their hometowns describing the release of that year’s new Ford models. This led to a part-time job as a copy boy at the Journal, where the photo staff took my under its wing and trained me as a photojournalist.  The Topeka Capital-Journal saw my work and offered me a regular job in Kansas.

After a year of covering many tornadoes, among other things, I won as Associated Press photo contest for Kansas and Missouri newspapers.  Then came an invitation to come to Kansas City for an interview and an offer of an AP photographer’s job.  I was given a choice of three cities.  But the salary was disappointingly low, so I declined with thanks and went home to Topeka.  A week later, I got a call from AP sweetening the offer and I accepted the job in Seattle in 1968.

I had no idea what to expect in Seattle.  My parents thought I had moved to the end of the world.  It was right next door to Alaska, you know.  I was the only AP staff photographer west of Denver and north of San Francisco from 1968 to 1977.  Seattle was my home base, but many assignments took me throughout Alaska and the Pacific Northwest, to the South Pacific, and to many other destinations where news was breaking.

One of the first events I covered was the World Cup downhill ski competition at Crystal Mountain, Washington.  This was a challenge for a young kid with no real experience.  Then came the Apollo moon missions.  The Apollo 8 capsules splashed down in the Pacific Ocean.  Because the assignment required spending a month a sea, none of the AP photographers based in Los Angeles wanted to assignment, so I got it.  This was good for my career.  After that, I became AP’s Apollo photographer and covered ten more missions in the Apollo 10 and Apollo 11 series.

I figure I made close to 100,000 images during my fifty years of photography.  In those early years I traveled 50,000 miles a year on assignment pursuing “hard” news, sports, and features.  The big stories included the Apollo 8 and Apollo 11 space missions; building of the trans-Alaska pipeline; many political campaigns, including the final days of Senator Robert Kennedy’s campaign; the eruption of Mount St. Helen’s and a variety of sports events and teams – Super Bowls; NBA championships; Final Four college basketball tournaments; the Olympic Games in Canada; the Seattle Pilots; Seattle Mariners; and Seattle Seahawks.

Since leaving the AP in 2002 I have continues my career as a freelance photographer in Las Vegas. Vegas and the entertainment scene has always been a love.  The area is like a pot of gold and I have enjoyed it to its highest point.  There is no other place in the world where there is something new each and every day.  The many characters and stars have created this selection of work and have brought excitement to my second career.  It takes a life time to learn photography and the learning never stops.  It is something that can’t be mastered.

Bob Thompson

My older brother ‘won’ a scholarship to the Wisconsin High School (part of the UW educational program.)  His Jr & Sr high school days were incredible – the star football player, the star basketball player, the star volleyball player, the prom king. He was a “hard act” to follow. I was 5 yrs younger, I didn’t measure up to him. I stumbled and bungled my time in Jr and Sr high school. I tried my best to hide from anybody while at West High.  It was a blur.  Not your fault.  I just was timid.

I went to the UW–Madison and met a fantastic professor who helped me. As a result, 5 years later I was confident, strong, ready to go.  I graduated – Vietnam was front and center. A day before I was going to get called, an opportunity came up. I was working for an engineer/design office. I asked and they offered me a position in their office in Saigon! So I ended up as a civilian engineer in the middle of a war zone. I was 23. They TRIPLED my pay (3X what I was making the US!!)  My job was to fly all around the war zone and talk like an engineer.  There was never a dull moment.  I “had to” go all around Asia, Australia, the Pacific Islands, China, Hong Kong, Japan – and a lot of other exotic places.

2 ½ years later it ended.  I came home and my boss assigned me to work in Europe – Yugoslavia, Italy, Germany, France, etc.  WOW.  More money and exotic places.

Several years later I came home – rich and well-traveled, but an alcoholic and addicted to drugs.  I had $ and many adventures, but I was a wreck.  I came back to Madison. My dad saw me and I was such a mess. He died of a heart attack 2 days later.  My drug-addled brain couldn’t deal with it.  I ended up in the mental hospital near Maple Bluff, locked into a padded room – mumbling incoherent.

My older brother (now married to a wonderful gal – he was a professor in Idaho) came to Dad’s funeral and came to visit me.  He convinced the doctor’s to release me and fly to Idaho, where he helped me. He talked to me about Jesus. I had never seriously considered Christianity but I had to admit, I was a mess. I asked for God to help me. In a few months I was invited to share my story with other Christians. A wonderful gal was in the audience. She had been married to a guy who drank himself to death. She was sad and hurt. We became husband and wife in 1976  and lived in NE Madison – near Maple Bluff.

We moved around to various places in Wisconsin and Illinois, and settled down in Chicago. I designed golf courses, play grounds, parks – etc.  We have 2 wonderful daughters, both married good men and both of them gave us 2 grandkids each.  My wife is the most wonderful, beautiful gal I’ve ever met.  I’m richly blessed. Now I’m retired. We live in NW Chicago, have good friends. Blessed – life is good. I’ve done everything and been everywhere, have a loving wife, great kids, and fantastic grandkids. Every day is the best…what an adventure!

Edward Williams

Before retiring, I was an Elementary School Counselor for 39 years. It was a challenging, but enjoyable job with many different facets. The basic duty was helping kids with self-esteem, behavior and peer problems, and the assessment and treatment of the basis for some of their problems. It is hard to beat hearing a little second grade girl who, for some time, had been down on herself and doing poorly academically because of it, excitedly announce that everything was now going well and she was doing great in class. All because of something I taught her the week before about her self-talk.

Helping teacher’s solve problems in the classroom, teaching character education, and teacher in-services during the day, and parenting classes at night was also rewarding. Especially when they later indicated how much it had helped them be a better teacher or parent, and often both.

One of the high points has to be the development of a quick, but thorough, behavior assessment process that identified problems with anxiety, depression, and especially attention deficit. It was so effective and well received that I was asked to periodically train my school district, as well as two other districts, and others at the state level. The best part though, was the comprehensive report I put together for parents after testing. In one hour’s time, they would go out with a far better understanding of ADD/ADHD, and seeing their child’s struggle in a whole new light that empower them in helping him/her.

My wife, Eunice, retired from managing the official travel office at Hill Air Force Base.

Upon retirement, we served The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on a mission, which entailed working with the young single adults in the Ogden, UT area. We enjoyed their enthusiasm and love for life as we worked with them. 

We are currently involved in family history work, both our own and helping others. Part of that entailed working in the Ogden Family History Center helping people from all walks of life who came in seeking help with their family history. This was abruptly halted with COVID-19. We may not be able to return to that activity for some time, unless they open up helping people from home. Then we can join the rest of the country by “working at home.”

Fortunately, we have been blessed with consistent good income, with a good neighborhood, and good health, and are doing well, despite the restrictions. Our limited garden of tomatoes and zucchini is doing well and starting to produce. We enjoy sharing them, along with fruit from our cherry, apricot, pear, and apple trees, with our neighbors, and in helping them roof their shed and rebuild their fence. Although we are not getting any younger, unfortunately, we have many neighbors in their eighty’s all of whom have lost their spouses, and relish the support and kindness, and it brings joy to all of us.

Since we have not written earlier; we have daughters 50 and 39, and sons 48, 46, and 44 all living here in Utah, or in Washington state. Last year we celebrated out 50thanniversary, with all but one of them and their spouses. And, of course, we are grandparents of eight and great grandparents of four beautiful children, two of which are now living in northern Wisconsin.

Sally Wilson Sweeney

“Net it out” you said, “and don’t be braggin’ on your grandkids.” Okay, I’ll just say this: My four children have provided seven beautiful children. I was lucky there, but with my sanity at stake, I survived the child-rearing years as gracefully as I could by going to work. First I went back to UW to gather the knowledge I needed to wedge my way into the world of kitchen design. I had experienced the process first hand when we remodeled our own kitchen to make room for the twins when they were born. I knew that I could enjoy this occupation forever. I loved the design process and I would finally have control of my own destiny. I spent the next forty years helping many wonderful people achieve the home of their dreams, all the while tending the fires on my own home front.

There were a few challenges. In 1982 my husband Michael decided to change professions. We moved from Madison to Santa Barbara CA so he could pursue his masters degree and then to Kansas City for his doctorate in Psychology. He opened his practice and for the next few years we went along doing what parents do, driving to ball games, sports practices and dance recitals. We also took on one remodeling project after another in our own house so we were constantly under construction. Then in 1994 I noticed that my right hand had a little tremor. Did I just say I had control of my destiny? Silly me. I thought it might be a pinched nerve from some surgery that I’d had, but in July of 1995 I was diagnosed with early stage Parkinson’s Disease. The doctor told me it wouldn’t kill me. I could expect to have ten or so good years but my health would continue to deteriorate. After that, he said, I “wouldn’t be able to keep up with the herd, and sooner or later one of the tigers would get me”.

I decided it was time to make some changes.

First I gave six months notice to the kitchen shop where I worked. Then I started my own design business.

Second I volunteered to work two days a week at the local Parkinson’s Support Center. It was my intent to learn all I could and get to know the people involved while supporting a good cause. I worked there for several years.

Third I started to walk daily and practice tai chi and later yoga.

Fourth I started the plans to build our own home. It was the first item on my bucket list which was pretty short at the time. I was able to design the house, and find the land and the people to help me build it. We built it on a small lake which was a bird sanctuary thirty miles west of Kansas City.

I loved it. We lived in it for fifteen years until the driving became too much and the house and land became too much. We decided to downsize and get closer to the urban core. That was five years ago. Then in May of last year after we were long gone our former lake house suffered a direct hit from a huge tornado. It was blown to the ground and scattered all over the county. The new owners have rebuilt using the same foundation. Their new house is beautiful but not quite as beautiful as it was when it was mine. I’m sad but I’m satisfied. I got to build it, and I got to live in it. It’s still the house of my dreams. There’s only one thing I’d change and that’s the location of the light switch in the guest bath. I don’t need to build it again.

So here I am twenty five years later just keepin’ on keepin’ on. Nobody knows how come. In a recent visit my PD neurologist said “you must take very good care of yourself”! Well I do try to do that. I’m turning an ice cold shoulder to the carona virus which I intend to do until there’s a good vaccine available.

That about wraps it up. I’m just living here with Mike in our little cottage. I try to take good care of him as he does of me. I’m working puzzles, playing games online, learning how to paint with oil, baking, and knitting. I’m making masks out of my fabric remnants, and helping make sleeping pads for the homeless crocheted out of recycled plastic bags. I can’t play bridge because we can’t go out or let anyone in. I miss that a lot. I have daily fights with the internet and plenty of organization projects awaiting me. I’m walking every day and attending yoga and Physical therapy sessions on zoom. AND I get to see some of my grandchildren or attend one of their ball games once in a awhile.

I hope some of my friends, including all of you, are still alive once this ordeal is over. Life is good.

Thomas Woolsey

Neil Thomas Woolsey (grandson), Lindsey Nelson Woolsey (daughter-in-law). Eli James Woolsey (grandson), Paxton Mae Henry (granddaughter), David Michael Henry (son-in-law), Helen Fox Henry (granddaughter),  Timothy Ward Woolsey (son), Cynthia Ward Woolsey (wife), Alix Woolsey Henry (daughter) Thomas Allen Woolsey (me).

Early Years: My father, Clinton N. Woolsey, MD, was appointed one of two centennial professors at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1948. At the time he was an Associate Professor of Physiology at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, where he earned his MD in 1933. With the start of WWII in 1941 he volunteered to serve in the Medical Corps in the Pacific but was ordered to stay at Hopkins to educate more MDs to serve in the military. There he did groundbreaking research on the function of the brains of animals. And there he met my mother Harriet R. Runion, on the Johns Hopkins Hospital Nursing staff. She was preparing to go serve in the Pacific when they got married in 1942. I was born on April 17, 1943. My two brothers: John 4-16-45 and Edward (Ned) 4-7-47 followed. (Maternal planning?) In August of 1948, we drove to Madison and moved into 106 Virginia Terrace ~ 1.5 blocks south of Madison West High School.

Education: My grade school was Randall School about a mile east of West High. Lots of fun walking there in the winters. The next 6 years in Junior High and High School was overall interesting. Classmates were from a broader geographic area, from a wide range of families and for the most part the teachers good to excellent. I liked playing tennis when no snow on the tennis courts, tobogganing at Hoyt Park in the winter and hiking around the neighborhood with classmates. West provided good prep for college. After graduation from West, I went to the University of Wisconsin about 1.5 miles east of West High. At the time it was an exceptional independent institution. I graduated in 1965 with 160 credits (120 credits were required). That fall I returned to Baltimore, for my MD in 1969 at Johns Hopkins. I remember the Martin Luther King, Jr., assassination on April 4, 1968 and the Baltimore Riots April 6-14, 1968 that followed. And I met a beautiful and smart young medical social worker next to the Hopkins Hospital. That, it turns out, was the best moment of my life. Cynthia T. Ward and I were married on June 8, 1969 two days after I graduated from Hopkins with an MD. After our honeymoon in Portugal, we hit the road to St. Louis where I was a surgical Intern at Barnes Jewish Hospital in the Department of Surgery of Washington University (Wash U) School of Medicine.

Career: My surgical internship at Wash U was exciting. I enjoyed seeing patients, assisting in the operating rooms and making rounds. The target at the start was training as a resident in Neurosurgery. The head of neurosurgery, Dr. Henry G. Schwartz was a Hopkins MD and classmate of my father. His wife, Dr. Elizabeth Reed Schwartz, on the pediatric faculty was from the same Hopkins class. They became wonderful friends of my family. In early 1970, the US began to withdraw from Vietnam and the requirement for physicians dropped and was no longer an obligation for me. While I loved surgery, a paper I wrote while in medical school on the function of the mouse brain was published in 1970. This led to many important discoveries in neuroscience and a scientific organization called The Barrel Society still in function was founded by a former fellow working in my laboratory. I had discovered that the pattern of nerve cells in the middle layer of the mouse brain cortex outlined the pattern of whiskers of face on the opposite face. The cut perpendicular to the brain surface showed the cells curving from top bottom of the cortical layer like the side of a barrel. So that was the basis of the name of the society. At Wash U the chair of the Department of Anatomy was Dr. W. Maxwell Cowan, who began a long and distinguished career at Oxford in England, who I had met in Madison in 1967, where he was a fellow in a laboratory next to my father’s. I spoke with him in early 1970 and he offered me a postdoctoral fellowship in his department. After one year at the age of 29 I became an assistant professor of Anatomy at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis (WUSM).

At WUSM I had a successful career, became a professor at the age of 40, and served on the faculty in the Departments of Anatomy, of Physiology, of Neurosurgery, of Neurology, of Anesthesiology, of Radiology and also in the Department of Biology on the WUSTL campus on West side of the park 3 blocks north of our present house.  I was named the George Holman Bishop Scholar was very successful in raising research support from the NIH and other organizations. Co-authored over 180 research articles in leading journals and am the lead author of The Brain Atlas of which the 4th edition was published in 2017.   I am a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), have chaired many committees of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and served on science committees abroad in Europe, Asia and South America. I was the President of the St. Louis Academy of Science ~ 2000. We visited all continents mostly based on requests for lectures/scientific consultation. I technically retired in 2013 from my professorship but continued as an instructor at WUSTL until Spring of 2019

Family: In 1972 we moved to Clayton, MO just west of Forest Park where several museums and the zoo are located. (WUSM is on the East side of the park 2.5 miles away.)  

In May of 2019 Cindy and I celebrated our 50th Anniversary in Yosemite National Park with our children and their families. Our daughter Alix – architect – was born on 2/29/72 and married David Henry, in Taos, NM, late August in 2001. She and David own an Architectural firm that is focused on eco-friendly buildings. Their two daughters – Helen (16) and Paxton (11) are smart and talented. Our son Tim – was born on 8/31/75 and married Lindsey Nelson, in Koh Phan Nang, Thailand, early January in 2002. He is a lawyer for the Suquamish Nation on the peninsula just west of Seattle. Lindsey founded and manages a firm that organizes collaborations between local companies and local colleges for focused employee training. Their identical twin sons Eli and Neil (7) are active and great hikers.

Recent Times: Since my retirement we continued to travel abroad with our children and their families and to spend time with in in New Mexico and the state of Washington. All great times.

Unfortunately, I’ve had several serious medical issues. (These have led me to reflect on my Randall school experiences with casts on my arm and leg, the former from falling on ice while walking to Randall the latter from an car accident with my grand parents in the summer of 1952 which killed my grandma, broke my grandpa’s ribs and broke my left leg.) Ten years ago, I had aggressive treatment for a very high-grade prostate cancer. The cancer has not returned but the treatment (included illuminating testosterone) made me a Eunuch.

Last year, after the return from our 50th Anniversary in Yosemite I was diagnosed with a malignant tumor of the spine and hospitalized for 4 months of treatment and frequent radiological evaluation. After Thanksgiving 2019, I was deemed cured. And our children traveled to St. Louis to celebrate Cindy’s 75th Birthday on December 23. 

Now with the Flu Pandemic we’re locked in place and cannot travel to see our family or interesting parts of the world. What a reward. My father’s mother died in the “Spanish” flu epidemic in 1918. (She was managing a general store in the high planes of Colorado.) “History Repeats Itself” hopefully will not apply now.

If you live for more than 3 score and 17 years, the story can not be short. Wish the best for our Class of 1961 – GO MADISON WEST HIGH.