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Success a measure of

A salute to people who make a difference in the Dodge and Fond du Lac area‌ and beyond!

Sunday | October 31, 2010



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General Manager/Executive Editor Richard Roesgen


There’s no shortage of staff success stories to share



Michael Mentzer

Managing Editor | The Reporter The Reporter’s annual fall Success section has become just that — a success.

Copy Editor Gary Clausius

It’s been an idea that’s worked since Day 1. We hear positive comments from readers each time it appears.

Contributing Writers Dorothy Bliskey, Karla Kremer Breister, Harley Buchholz, Paul Keup, Colleen Kottke, Michael Mentzer, Russell Plummer, Lee Marie Reinsch, Laurie Ritger, Michael Rogers, Sharon Roznik, Joann Schrauth, Heather Stanek, Monica Walk, Doug Whiteley

It has struck a responsive chord with readers since its debut in 2005. The special section has received several newspaper and advertising awards through the Wisconsin Newspaper Association.

Photographers Aileen Andrews, Harley Buchholz, Justin Connaher, Patrick Flood

In a way, it provides balance to other news items — the jarring, shocking, deflating ones that must be told because of their impact on the community.

We receive “nominations” and “story ideas” from readers off and on throughout the year, which means the concept has “staying power” long after it’s published. It’s apparent to us that people enjoy reading upbeat, uplifting stories about their friends, neighbors, fellow citizens, civic organizations and businesses.

Graphic Artist Heather Nohr

This special section is the sixth collection of stories about people, organizations and businesses in the readership area of Fond du Lac, Dodge and Calumet counties.

Advertising Director Joe Bembnister

In its infancy, someone voiced concern that we faced the prospect of running out of people and ideas to write about.

Advertising Manager Jen Memmel

That has never been a problem. In fact, it seems that ideas and “good people” have multiplied over the years, maybe because we’re on the lookout for them.

Circulation Director Greg Fyvie

P.O. Box 630, Fond du Lac, WI 54936-0630 Phone: 920.922-4600 | 1.800.261.7323 FAX: 920.922.5388

We call this “bundle” of stories Success, but it’s definitely not about success in a materialistic sense. It’s not pegged to money or awards. This is about success in the course of community service and feeling good about what others have accomplished, or the challenges people have overcome, or the ideas that people share, or going about the day-to-day routine and leaving a legacy for others to follow. One of my favorite stories in today’s Success section focuses on Patricia Grose and the incomparable giant calla lilies she grows in her rural St. Cloud greenhouse. They will be available in the dead of winter at local floral shops. Rick Bode of Wood’s Floral and Gifts in Fond du Lac is a big fan of Grose’s calla lilies. “They only travel 12 miles, are not packed, never out of water, and never have any blemishes or bruises,” Bode said. There is a special measure of success to be appreciated in that.

As noted in a Success section from a prior year, there is no shortage of positive, upbeat, “successful” people in our little corner of the world. The most difficult aspect at times is convincing people that they do indeed have interesting and inspirational stories to tell.

on the cover. . .

The main photo on the cover highlights Yolanda Hayes-Barnes of North Fond du Lac, a senior at Horace Mann High School who has excelled in virtually everything she has attempted. She is involved in equestrian pursuits, high school sports, volunteerism and 4-H. Also featured on the cover, top to bottom, are Cindy Blank, owner and operator of Casa Anna Cheese Store in Fond du Lac; Linus Doll, a carpenter, craftsman, storyteller, lover of Fond du Lac and Green Bay Packers fan; Wayne Huberty, owner of Huberty & Associates of Fond du Lac, one of the fastest-growing accounting firms in the Midwest; Patricia Grose, grower of prized giant calla lilies at her rural St. Cloud greenhouse; Keith Heisler, a lover of music who has found a niche in radio and in community service; and Patrick Schuppe, a longtime Fond du Lac resident who has been dubbed by friends as the “mayor of Main Street.”

Managing Editor Michael Mentzer





Daisy Frazier pages 60-61

She is a respected voice for the African-American community

Yolanda Hayes-Barnes


Ripon College Cycling


Don Mulder


Wayne Huberty


Patricia Grose


Dr. Jay Schauer


Keith Heisler


Full Spectrum


Rock the House


Larry Mielke and John Abler


Roscoe ‘Rocky’Tackett


Bill Casper


Casa Anna


Bret Jaeger


Dave Oldenburg


Linus Doll


Patrick Schuppe


Jim Wegner


North Fond du Lac high school senior thrives on active lifestyle

Local volunteer takes reins of Wisconsin Amateur Hockey Association Her giant calla lilies bring smiles to faces of area florists, customers His childhood dream blossomed into local radio career

Local charities benefit from Brownsville bar-restaurant patrons, donors Former trucker honored as 2010 Wisconsin TOPS ‘king’ by weight-loss group Cindy Blank’s shop finds niche in cheese-loving community

Fond du Lac resident is tireless in efforts to help disabled citizens

‘Mayor of Main Street’ one of community’s most colorful characters

Cassandra Michler


pages 57-58

Making special events happen with ‘flash’ is her passion

Coach Ric Damm’s vision results in grant for mountain biking trail

Local CPA leads one of the fastest-growing accounting firms in U.S. Local orthodontist was Dr. Jay long before the other ‘Dr. J” Local recording studio built on a wing and a prayer Weather observers keep their eyes on the skies Ledge, sturgeon are among outdoorsman’s favorite topics Library director enjoys passion for history and Civil War re-enactments Local craftsman, storyteller shares gift with the Packers Hall of fame honor caps career for ’67 Springs grad

Josh Emanuel pages 54-55

Fond du Lac gemologist carries on treasured family tradition

Success is published by The Reporter, Fond du Lac. Contents of this section are published for The Reporter. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior consent of The Reporter. For more information, contact Michael Mentzer, managing editor, at 920-907-7910 or e-mail

Success 2010

quite a‘rush’ North Fond du Lac teen is up to the challenge in a wide variety of activities

heather stanek

The Reporter | Yolanda Hayes-Barnes almost has time for sleep. The 18-year-old North Fond du Lac woman has her hand in everything — high school life, college hunting, volunteering, sports, 4-H and horse training. When she’s not stretching her mind for chemistry homework and muscles for volleyball practice, she’s driving to Green Bay to raise and train her birds, dairy heifer and Morgan horse.

Yolanda Hayes-Barnes, 18, balances a series of ribbons on the riding crop she uses for showing Morgan horses. The North Fond du Lac teenager has been riding horses since she was 3 and qualified to show her horse, HVK Port Rush, at Nationals in 2008. The duo qualified for Nationals again in 2009 and 2010.

The Reporter photo by Justin Connaher

Hayes-Barnes has pushed herself to succeed since she was 11 years old. It’s the kind of drive that’s given her a shot at a bright future, a grasp on real life and the chance to compete on a global level. At some point in her life, almost every little girl loves horses. HayesBarnes took her passion a step further, with help from family. Hayes-Barnes started riding after she turned 3, the same time she was adopted by Cindy Barnes of North Fond du Lac. Yolanda received a block of riding lessons for her 11th birthday, her mother said.

She nicknamed him “Rush,” and he performed so well at competitions

Continued on Page 7.


A new member joined the family Christmas in 2007, and the teenager’s life changed for the better. Hayes-Barnes’ family surprised her with HVK Port Rush, a 10-year-old Morgan horse purchased from Herbert Kohler.

Real horse lover




Name: Yolanda Hayes-Barnes Age: 18 Years in the community: 15 Occupation: Student Reaction to being selected for a Success Section story: “I was really surprised. It’s really, really cool.” To what do you owe your measure of success? “Role models — I have so many. Mike Andrews, my first basketball coach, and my current coach, Gary Kuehl. My mom, definitely, for always being there. Bert Eareheart and his wife Caryn. He personally has been the reason I feel that Rush and I have been so successful. He has taught me so much, and his ongoing training with Rush has allowed me to become the rider I am today. Bert and Caryn open their home to me to sleep over whenever I have my weekend lessons. They feed me, make sure I get my homework done and support me in any way I need. I would not feel right if I neglected to mention Evonne and Jason Schmidt. Their company sponsored part of my trip to nationals and world last year and has offered to do so again this year. Evonne is always there for me, so supportive in whatever I choose to do. I am so fortunate to be surrounded by so many people who care for me — my friends and family, teachers, the list is long. Hopefully I will impact someone else’s life like this someday.”

Yolanda Hayes-Barnes, 18, of North Fond du Lac doesn’t have much time for rest and relaxation, between sports practice and horse training. She’s active in track, basketball and volleyball and shows animals for 4-H. Showing Morgan horses are the highlight of her year. She has competed at nationals for three consecutive years.

Submitted photos / Bottom left file photo by H. Marc Larson, Green Bay Press Gazette / Top center Reporter photo by Patrick Flood


“It’s pretty pricy,” she said. “You’d better be sure your horse just had an off moment.” This year, Hayes-Barnes will show Rush, Gladiator and LL Kool-J, she said.

The 4x200 relay team won the Fond du Lac County Meet and WIAA Regional titles. Its best time was among the top 10 in the state, Jagodzinski said.

He won the Grand National Pleasure Driving Champion title in 2008 and placed fifth in the world competition, Hayes-Barnes said. Rush seems to enjoy trotting at his own pace.

She keeps her animals at Copper Leaf Stables near Green Bay, where she practices with trainer Bert Earehart. Barnes said training’s easier now that Hayes-Barnes has her driver’s license.

Hayes-Barnes was also the first North Fond du Lac athlete “in a long time” to win the MVP trophy at the Fond du Lac County Meet, where she was chosen in a vote of participating team coaches.

He also received a Top 10 prize for the pleasureriding category, even though it’s not his strong suit. He’s too prone to staring at the audience and posing for the camera, Hayes-Barnes said. Rush likes being his own boss, not taking orders from a rider.

“The only bad thing about her driving is I never see my car,” Barnes said.

Jagodzinski said the best experience happened at sectionals, where she broke the school record. In the preliminary heat of the 200-meter dash, Hayes-Barnes slowed to conserve energy for her other races. But the team still had good news when the results were posted.

Hayes-Barnes also showed GMH Gladiator for a different owner and received a Top 10 in the hunter division, she said.

National champs In 2009, she showed Rush, Gladiator and Ah La Lucie at nationals. Rush won the national title in pleasure driving and reserve for the world, she said. Hayes-Barnes still has the wreath of fake flowers that adorned his neck. He also won a Top 10 for pleasure riding, she said. “It’s a big deal just to (reach nationals) and get in the top 10,” Barnes said. Gladiator took sixth place in the hunter category, a “large class,” Barnes said. It wasn’t bad, considering he’s still a young horse who’s easily spooked by shadows, banging sounds and yelling crowds. Lucie, who’s also owned by a different party, won third place for classic pleasure saddle riding and a Top 10 in the junior riding category at nationals. She won a Top 10 for the world level. Hayes-Barnes said it’s possible to compete again to try for a better score, but it costs about $300. She prefers accepting what she wins, since

Between school and training, Hayes-Barnes doesn’t have much downtime at home. She plays varsity basketball and volleyball in the fall and winter, and competes in track in spring at Horace Mann High School. She’s secretary for the National Honor Society and Key Club, a representative for Student Council and member of the Science Club. She also volunteers for the youth group at the Arc of Fond du Lac. Now that she’s 18, she can serve as relief staff, providing additional care for disabled clients. Hayes-Barnes said she’s had to give up Homecoming dances, but she doesn’t mind since she had the chance to compete in the Morgan Nationals. She’s also part of 4-H and shows ducks and a dairy heifer named Latte. She took her animals to the Brown County Fair this year. Hayes-Barnes brings the same heart to the field and classroom, said Brian Jagodzinski, her English teacher and track coach. She’s always willing to voice her opinion and turn in consistent, excellent work. She has a “joyous, energetic spirit” before track events, he said. When she’s not on the field, she’s in the stands cheering for teammates. Jagodzinski said Hayes-Barnes stayed late for track practices last year and her dedication shows. She was the conference champion in the 200-meter dash, as well as on the 4x100 and 4x200 relay teams. She placed second in the high jump.

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“The girls were warming up for their relay when I told her,” Jagodzinski said. “I walked up to them all, put out my hand and said, ‘Congratulations.’ She asked what for and I replied, ‘25.9.’ After a split second it dawned on her what I meant and the girls jumped around and hugged for a long time.”

Refined work ethic Hayes-Barnes’ work ethic has made her “a very successful, confident young lady,” said Jean Hintze, her teacher for physical science, chemistry and advanced chemistry. She’s put a lot of emphasis on science since she plans to pursue a degree in zoology, but her passion in school is English, Hintze said. She loves reading and writing, and Stephen King is one of her favorite authors. No matter what she does, she’s organized and reliable, Hintze said. She adapts with ease to the situation, added Gary Kuehl, her basketball coach. At practice and in school, she’s calm, friendly and willing to help others. But in the heat of the game, she’s competitive and savors the challenge of beating the other team. Hayes-Barnes can out-jump and outrun most other athletes, but she struggles with her shooting confidence. “She does use her natural ability to help her, but many parts of the game of basketball she has had to work hard to improve on.”



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“He always thinks he’s smarter than you,” Hayes-Barnes said. “He knows best and you don’t. He’s kind of a diva. He knows if he can get away with anything, he will.”

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that he qualified for the Morgan Grand National Championship Horse Show in Oklahoma City in 2008. He qualified again in 2009, and will be back in 2010.


Practice pays off


it’s an honor just to make nationals.

Continued from Page 5.




icing on the cake

Longtime area volunteer takes reins of Wisconsin Amateur Hockey Association

Michael Rogers The Reporter

Don Mulder didn’t grow up with a hockey stick in his hands, but his tireless passion for the sport through the Wisconsin Amateur Hockey Association and other hockey organizations has increased the number of kids who play the sport.

The Reporter photo by Patrick Flood

Retirement is supposed to be a time to take things off of one’s work load.


It’s a time usually viewed as a chance to relax and to slow down after years of hard work. But not for Don Mulder. He hasn’t just settled into a life of monotony with his wife, Judy, not with hockey still in his life, and a passion for the sport that has been going for more than 30 years still pumping through his veins. Few individuals, if any, have been as instrumental in amateur hockey in the Fond du Lac area. And with a strong presence already through the state, Mulder will have even more say since he was elected president of the Wisconsin Amateur Hockey Association this past summer.

“When my name came up (to be the organization’s president), it was a bit overwhelming,” he said. “I’ve been on the WAHA board since 1982; I’ve served on a lot of committees. Sometimes you don’t make a lot of friends, but you do what’s best for the kids.” Mulder said that his name had come up for the last few years, but this time, “I finally said OK. I’ve got a few ideas I’d like to see before I pass the torch.”

A full plate That would be enough to keep him occupied, but then add that he is president of the Wisconsin Hockey Hall of Fame (Mulder’s a Class of ’98 inductee), a member of the Adult Council of USA

Name: Don Mulder Occupation: Retired, former correctional officer, current board member and president of various hockey agencies Number of years in Fond du Lac area: 17 in Fond du Lac; previous 29 in Waupun Reaction to being selected for a Success section story: “It’s overwhelming. I think it’s a great opportunity; I’m kind of excited. I’m never one to go and get a lot of ink.” To what or whom do you owe your measure of success? “Don Kohlman and Bud Sheldon. They were the hockey leaders when I got started. They were the board of directors in Region 5. They kind of took me under their wing and showed me the ropes, and I had the best mentors I could have had. They forgot more about hockey than I know.”


Hockey, which usually has him running tournaments from Maine to California and anywhere in between. And just for good measure, he’s rink manager at the Fond du Lac Blue Line Family Ice Center and general manager of the Fond du Lac Bears.


“I am totally amazed,” Mulder’s oldest son Dave said. “When he retired I was wondering what he was going to do with himself. He has his hands full. He’s also traveling across the US. It’s kind of crazy.” What would possess a man to take on so much responsibility? “I just love the camaraderie of hockey people,” Mulder said. “(I love) the thrill of the game, the fast movement of the game. It’s a family-oriented program. I can sit there and take all the honors, but if I didn’t have help, it would be impossible. It’s kind of a family atmosphere.”

Hockey family Family isn’t just the reason Mulder is still working so hard, it’s also the reason he got started. Unlike many who are passionate for the sport, Mulder never played it as a youth. It wasn’t until he was in Waupun and his young nephews started getting interested in the sport that Mulder was sucked in. He was part of a large group with his brotherin-law and many volunteers that pushed for the Waupun Community Center Ice Rink and helped build and maintain the facility for many years. In fact, for years before heading to work, Mulder would check the compressors and the ice conditions at 5 a.m. every day at the Community Center.

On a mission “I didn’t like what the board of directors were doing, and got involved,” he said. Then his sons, Dave and Matt, started playing hockey and his daughters, Amy and Mary, were in figure skating. Dave said it was common for his dad to travel with him to his game on a weekend and his mom to travel with his younger brother for his game. That may be why as president of the WAHA he wants to promote more local leagues. As a board member, he’s already been instrumental in the growth of tournament hockey for children. “As a matter of fact, the last few years, house leagues have kept the kids closer to home and not traveling as much. Now this year the WAHA board is pushing in the direction,” said Dave Mulder, who serves as vice president of the Blue Line Executive Board. “If you don’t have to travel, it keeps costs down and the kids have fun; that’s kind of the direction we’re headed.”

Don Mulder stands on the rink at the Fond du Lac Blue Line Ice Center. Mulder is the rink manager at the Blue Line and has made that a home away from home in his passion for hockey.

The Reporter photo by Patrick Flood Fond du Lac Bears The city’s adult hockey team has had a run of success in recent years that is rare in the organization’s long history. It shouldn’t be a surprise that Don has been involved with that turnaround. The Bears won the USA Hockey Adult National Championship — one of the many tournaments he has a big hand in running — for the first time in 2009, and had their best season record in 2009-10. Mulder’s role may not be that big on the Bears — he more or less takes care of equipment and makes sure travel arrangements are made — but his fingerprints are still there. “He’s one of the reasons I started coaching the Bears,” Fond du Lac coachTom MacDonald said. “He stepped up to the plate to turn things around from just not winning a lot of games, having poor fan support. He was definitely instrumental in getting things turned around, getting it back in positive light.”

With all the things he’s involved with, the Bears’ national championship is one that registers as a highlight. “To win a national championship is incredible. You had to be there to see the moment,” Mulder said. “I was sitting back when they scored thinking, ‘Can we beat this team out of Minnesota?’ “It was just incredible. I’m still living high off of it. That opportunity may be just once in a lifetime.”

In the proper hands The Bears have found out what many individuals throughout Wisconsin hockey circles already know: that when Don Mulder takes over something there’s a good chance for success. “It’s important to have someone that really cares about the organization,” MacDonald said. “It really helps that (Mulder) cares about it. It’s such a good history with the team, and a lot of people who want to see it succeed.”

Shortly after the facility was built he took over as president of the Waupun Hockey Association.




Lovely, lovely lilies

Locally grown giant callas prized by area florists Joann Schrauth

Special to The Reporter It’s been an interesting ride,” Patricia “Pat” Grose said about her growing ventures. Grose is mainly known for growing the aptly named giant white calla lilies for local florists. But she has branched off into orchids, peonies and hydrangeas — which she also sells to florists. Pat came into the business of growing callas when her husband, Jerry, died five years ago. Pat’s sales job in children’s books kept her on the road. Jerry had worked for a Menasha florist. After that business closed, Jerry brought the calla tubers to the greenhouse on their property between St. Cloud and Armstrong in 2002. When her husband died, Pat had no choice but to take over planting and tending the callas. She said she learns “by the seat of my pants with everything I do.” Pat called on her grandson, Nicholas, and a friend for help. The huge tubers are planted in five-gallon pails — one tuber per pail. More than 100 white pails are lined up in perfect rows on tables in her greenhouse.

“They grow out of those pots in no time at all. They just overwhelm anything smaller,” Grose said.


In fact, some of the plants send foliage and flowers as high as the greenhouse rafters. “It’s amazing how quickly they grow,” she said, noting that some of the tubers are more than 50 years old. She’s experimenting with fertilizers to promote more blooms per plant with less foliage. The callas bloom throughout the winter months. After blooming, the tubers are removed from the pails and allowed to dry off. They are then dormant for about three months until they’re planted again

Pat Grose of rural St. Cloud holds a calla lily sprout in her greenhouse. Grose is well-known locally for raising giant calla lilies.

The Reporter photo by Patrick Flood

Success 2010

Quality of Pat Grose’s callas

Joann Schrauth

Special to The Reporter

Name: Patricia “Pat” Grose Age: 72 Pat Grose inspects one of the more than 100 giant calla lily plants that will begin blooming in winter at her rural St. Cloud greenhouse.

Home community: Rural St. Cloud, formerly of Chicago

Rick Bode of Wood’s Floral and Gifts in Fond du Lac is surrounded by a variety of flowers in the shop’s refrigerated display area.

The Reporter photos by Patrick Flood

Number of years in the community: 10 years at rural St. Cloud

The Reporter photos by Patrick Flood

in September.

Occupation: Former publisher’s representative or “book lady.” Now the “flower lady.”

“Calla lilies are fragile flowers. They don’t take physical abuse,” Rick Bode of Wood’s Floral and Gifts in Fond du Lac points out. “Once they (the blooms) are creased or torn, they can’t be used,” he said, explaining the flower will then turn brown in that area. Packing and shipping increase the possibility of unusable blooms. Bode said regular-sized calla lily blooms can be found year-around from floral wholesalers, but the giant lilies that Pat Grose sells are not readily available. Callas have long been known as both wedding and funeral flowers, but are again popular for weddings. Callas are generally shipped in from warm climates. “Once a calla is cut, it stays like that,” Bode said. “If they arrive closed, they don’t open. Hers (Grose’s) are always open.” “The quality of (Grose’s callas) is unbeatable. They only travel 12 miles, are not packed, never out of water, and never have any blemishes or bruises,” Bode said.

But Grose’s business has grown to encompass more than calla lilies. When she found a Milwaukee florist was throwing out orchid plants after they had bloomed, Grose decided to try growing them. The florist said if she could get the orchids to bloom, he’d buy them back from her. She started with 60 orchid plants, and is now in the orchid business. She gives some of the orchids as gifts. She has also found a market for her peonies and hydrangeas. Vacations are almost unthought-of during the calla growing period. However, when Grose took a vacation in March one year, Patrick Creed of Botanicals in Fond du Lac took on the care of 50 of Grose’s callas. “That was just very, very special,” she said. “The florists have been so supportive. We have a nice relationship. I work very hard to make certain they do get a perfect product. If (it’s not perfect), it doesn’t go out of here,” she said. The best part of raising callas lilies is seeing the look on Rick, Pat and Nancy’s (Personal Touch floral) faces when she walks into the shops with her calla lilies, Grose said. “That’s the best part,” she said.

Reaction to being nominated for a Success section article: “I think it’s absolutely delightful.” To what do you attribute your measure of success: “Serendipitous. My husband had the business. (After he died) I couldn’t let the lilies die. Also, my absolutely wonderful customers.”

Facts about calla lilies • Calla lilies are trumpet-shaped blooms with large, arrowhead leaves. • The green leaves usually have white or silvercolored speckles. In addition to white, calla lilies come in several other colors. They come in giant and dwarf forms, in addition to the regular sizes. • Callas bloom approximately 60 to 90 days after the tubers are planted. They can be grown outside, but are not frost tolerant.







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Childhood dream paves path to radio career

Name: Keith Heisler Age: 25

Monica Walk

Years in Community: Lifelong

Keith Heisler, assistant program director at WTCX-FM 96 in Fond du Lac, pauses for a moment at his studio work station. Heisler also serves as morning show co-host on AM1170 WFDL.

The Reporter photo by Justin Connaher Don’t dismiss childhood aspirations. When Keith Heisler had to complete a sixthgrade career planning assignment as a graduation requirement at Rosenow Elementary School, he knew exactly what to focus on: Radio. “Radio is all I ever wanted to do,” said Heisler, who now works in the career he once dreamed about. “In sixth grade, I knew radio was what I wanted to do. I didn’t know what I would do, but I knew I wanted to work there. I liked music. I listened to the radio a lot. He added, “One of the big things I used to do was find songs on the radio. I listened to Casey Kacem’s Weekly Top 40, WIXX Local Countdown, Dick Bartley’s oldies shows, which are still running. There was lots of good stuff on the radio. The guys always seemed like they were having so much fun at what they did.” Heisler’s early focus put him on an unusual career fast-track. He used a high school job shadow program to first get into a radio station.Then, while he worked in retail as a high school junior, his aunt helped him make the next big connection.

Opening a door Her work at the Windhover Center brought regular contact with local radio talent, and she facilitated a meeting that turned into an internship for Heisler with WFDL’s then-morning show host Todd Dehring. “I told him I always wanted to do this, and I would do whatever it took. I would come in and do miscellaneous stuff,” recalled the 2006 Fond du Lac High School graduate, who did not earn credit for the internship. “I worked without pay for six months.” When the station had some paid minimum wage hours available, Heisler left his part-time job at Target. After about a year, the station offered him a full-time job. “I graduated and it became full-time. I’ve been here six years. August 1 was my anniversary,” he noted. While he has considered pursuing a degree in

Continued on Page 14.

Occupation: Assistant program director at WTCX-FM 96.1; morning show co-host on AM1170 WFDL Reaction to being nominated for a Success section story: “I think I was totally shocked. I never really considered myself to be the guy that you’d find in the ‘success section’ of a paper. I’m just another player in what I consider to be a great community. I never considered myself a standout. To have someone consider you that way is cool. I was very happy about that.” To what do you owe your measure of success? “That is a serious question, but also a pretty simple one. I think I owe it to great, great parents. Without them, I’m not there. “When people told us what we couldn’t do … when I was born — premature — and the doctors said I wouldn’t walk, my mom said, ‘He’s gonna walk and that’s just it.’ … Without them pushing me as hard as they did, and never giving up on me and always believing that I could achieve, I don’t think that I’d be anywhere. It’s all them.”

Special to The Reporter



Continued from Page 13.


radio/TV/film, Heisler understands that his hands-on experience in invaluable in his chosen field.

Expanding duties In the past six years, Heisler’s job duties have continued to expand. Officially, he is the assistant program director of WTCX-FM 96.1, helping with the fine-tuning of the details of programming content. He does similar work on AM1170 WFDL, where he also co-hosts a morning show with Greg Stensland. Heisler works in a producer role—answering phones, adjusting music levels, punching in commercials, taping callers—during the “Morning Sun” program on WFDL-FM Sunny 97.7. Midday finds him working at WTCX-FM 96.1. (The three stations are all owned by parent company Radio Plus.) Being on-air requires improvisational ability. “We wing it a lot—and that’s when the most fun stuff happens,” he said.

Technology pioneer Heisler also is the de facto IT head for the combined stations. He rewired the network, puts computers together and facilitates the ever-increasing technology used in radio: WAV files, MP3s, CDs, satellite programming that brings in national talent like John Tesh, and even occasional vintage cassettes. He’s a natural to handle the technology, having been immersed in computers since he began attending school. “I have cerebral palsy,” said Heisler, referring to a motor impairment syndrome that occurs in seven of every 1,000 births, often to babies born prematurely. Cerebral palsy describes a cluster of chronic conditions affecting body movements and muscle coordination, and not a specific disease.

Keith Heisler praises his parents, Lori and Wayne Heisler, for their support. Heisler says his parents were instrumental in making sure that his cerebral palsy did not block educational opportunity when he was a student in Fond du Lac schools.

The Reporter photos by Patrick Flood

“I was one of the first students integrated into normal Fond du Lac school rooms. So, at 6, I had my first computer on my desk—a Mac. Computers are just natural to me. My handwriting has never been good because of the CP, so I’ve always worked on computers. As a result of that, the technology in radio came pretty natural.” He recalls his pioneering role in the school system as generally good, even though it was a time when little was known about CP, and students with the diagnosis usually were put in special education classrooms. He attended Rosenow Elementary through Grade 6, Woodworth Junior High for Grades 7 through 9, and first Goodrich and then the new Fond du Lac High School. His supportive parents—Lori and Wayne, owner of Heisler Tile — worked with the schools to ensure their bright child had an individualized education plan for academic success. Heisler fondly recalled recently deceased high school principal Mary Fran Merwin and her staff: “They were really, really good to me.”

Community commitment While his varied broadcasting commitments make for a busy day, Heisler still makes time for community service.

He was invited to join the Fond du Lac Relay For Life Committee and has found the volunteer work rewarding. He chaired the group’s publicity committee, writing radio promos and helping with print ads and articles.


“What a great group of people—amazing people, awesome,” he said of the participants in the August 2010 Relay event held at the Fond du Lac High School track. “It was incredibly rewarding.” He was onsite for most of the event.

Keith Heisler makes use of this home-based computer system, which allows him to record radio broadcasts from his home in case of bad weather or other issues. Over his desk are album covers depicting some of his favorite music.

The Reporter photos by Patrick Flood

“I admittedly took some hours off,” he said. “The station broadcasts there… I was there from 12 p.m. to 12 a.m. I came home and slept five hours; came back, did the broadcast, and finished up the event. Then we had a radio station grand finale party for a prize we were giving away. I don’t think I’ve ever been that tired.” The Fond du Lac community also benefits annually from Heisler’s musical knowledge.

When his dear friend Dale Luther prepared to retire and expressed concern about who would take over the music portion of the holiday light show at Lakeside Park, Heisler was able to tell his friend he didn’t have to look far.

“It is a significant time investment,” he acknowledged. “But, digital technology makes it fun and simple. It used to be a hundred CDs or cassettes. Now, I make six or seven different playlists to run at different times of the night, and put it on an iPod and shuffle it around.

“I really enjoy that,” he said of the music selection and compilation. “I’m probably the only guy who likes listening to Christmas music in October. I like it a lot. I’m a huge fan.” When asked if he realizes how smoothly he has transitioned from student to professional and community member, Heisler smiles: “It was pretty sweet. It worked out unbelievably well.”


Two years ago, the duo collaborated as Luther prepared to pass the project to Heisler. As of 2010,

Heisler runs the holiday park music that accompanies the thousands of lights in the 400-acre park.


Carrying on tradition

Local entertainer ‘wheeled’ into media as child ambassador Monica Walk

Special to The Reporter

The public persona associated with radio work comes comfortably to Keith Heisler, likely because he has been in the public eye since preschool. During Heisler’s early childhood, Wisconsin Elks Club chapters were looking for a way to help children and made cerebral palsy a fundraising focus for the group. At age 4, Heisler became a local celebrity as a CP “poster child.” While he doesn’t recall the photo shoot, he does recall seeing the posters around town. As was the fact that Hardees restaurants were a big supporter of the United Cerebral Palsy organization, selling large cookies for a quarter, with all proceeds going to UCP.

When he was 4 years old, Keith Heisler, now 25, became a local celebrity as the state poster child for cerebral palsy awareness. The effort was sponsored by Wisconsin Elks Club chapters, including the Fond du Lac organization.

The Reporter photos by Patrick Flood

“I remember going to fundraising dinners and making short speeches, thanking people for helping kids like me,” said Heisler.

“It was neat to have that experience…lots of neat people that I met through that organization,” he said of his public childhood role.

Using his music knowledge to provide entertainment for a variety of age groups and musical tastes pleases Heisler.

That ease with early public speaking would prove a benefit in his later on-air career.

The ease in the public eye that he learned in childhood comes in handy when Heisler is helping with radio broadcasts from public venues like Fondue Fest, and while working as an events disc jockey with Record Entertainment DJ Service.

“It’s cool to see the impact music has on people in a crowd,” he said. “I love that.”

In 1993, Heisler was an “Ambassador Kid” on the WFRV Channel 5 telethon in Green Bay. That event provided a memorable connection to thenPackers coach Mike Holmgren. “I got to do a photo shoot with the coach, and go to a closed-door practice session. Mike Holmgren was a pretty incredible guy,” Heisler recalled. “In addition to all the autographs and meeting Reggie White, he later sent me a personal hello video that he filmed in his office,” Heisler said. Miss Wisconsin Stephanie Ann (Johnson) Klett was also involved in that telethon, and had to fill in for a sick on-air host during the show. Heisler enjoys following Klett’s current work as the host of the Discover Wisconsin Television and Radio Series.

“Guys here (at the station) know me as the ‘music brain.’ They’ll come down the hall and say, ‘Give me the top five Neil Diamond songs’ and I do,” Heisler said of his impetus to become an events DJ four years ago. “I am a huge fan of everything music. I’m a little obsessive with collecting and going to concerts. I collect CDs and vinyl…there is a lot of dust, but nothing sounds better,” Heisler pointed out. “I have everything from America to ZZ Top. I am an extreme Willie Nelson and Elvis fan: I have the most music from them. I also am really into Joel Whitburn and his books. He is a Menominee Falls native who wrote for Billboard.”

He performs at weddings and private parties as Keith “Wheels” Heisler—a nickname given by mentor, friend and former radio boss Todd Dehring. “Todd came up with that,” Heisler said. “I don’t like to sit down. I’m definitely not an idle person. I’m always running around here. And one day, Todd said, ‘Get the wheels out!’ as I sprinted down the hallway. “He said, ‘With your physical situation, you shouldn’t be that person, but you always just go a thousand miles an hour all the time.’ He says I’m always on the move. And that name has stuck. Now, I have people shouting ‘Wheels’ at me at Fondue Fest.”

“That was excellent,” he said.




Santa’s helpers Toys for Tots program benefits from generosity of Brownsville bar-restaurant patrons, donors Laurie Ritger

The Reporter |

One small business is making a big impact with neighbors across three counties. Rock the House Pub and Grill in Brownsville (pop. 570) might not be a big business, but it’s got a heart as big as Santa’s. Its owners and employees, business associates and clientele have been on a mission since 2006 to raise money to help children and their families during the holidays. Over the past four years, Rock the House has raised more than $55,000 to help Salvation Army and Toys for Tots. “For a small place, it is one of the largest collaborative efforts of people to do good,” said Jerry Brandt, assistant to owner Karen Rogne. Brandt said he remembers a discussion over a blue gill dinner that included himself, Rogne, her husband, Phil, Bob Herman, owner of the former Bob’s Harley in Fond du Lac, and Bob’s employee Tony Sabo. The topic of discussion was something they could do together that would incorporate the Harley shop and Rock the House.

Name: Karen Rogne Age: 51

Community: West Bend


Reaction to being nominated for a Success section story: “I guess I’m very flattered. I don’t look at myself as successful — just working hard. When Jerry told me, I said, “Why don’t you tell her to come back when I am successful?” To what or to whom do you owe your measure of success? “Probably because my parents were workaholics, they taught me a good work ethic.”

Karen Rogne, an owner of Rock The House at the corner of Highways 49 and 175 in Brownsville, shares a hug with Santa (Terry “Squeak” Blankaert) during the popular Two Wheel Tuesday Christmas Party held Sept. 14. Proceeds from the Two Wheel Tuesdays events at the bar and grill are used to purchase toys and gifts so families will have a happier Christmas.

The Reporter photo by Aileen Andrews

A series of HOG (Harley Owners Group) Chapter bike rides with different routes was planned. Midway through the first session, customer Herbie Weyer of Brownsville suggested doing a 50-50 drawing. Soon, someone suggested 50-50 and “boozy-woozy” drawings with proceeds going to charity. Rogne and Brandt’s concern for children brought Rock the House and Toys for Tots together.

Two-Wheel Tuesdays Rock the House’s “Two Wheel Tuesdays” was born in 2006. The event first catered to motorcyclists, but organizers quickly realized they didn’t care how


Name: Jerry Brandt Age: 55 Community: North Fond du Lac


Reaction to being nominated for a Success section story: “If it’s a story about Toys for Tots, it’s a labor of love. If it’s the success of Rock the House, that’s following Karen’s (owner Karen Rogne’s) lead.” To what or to whom do you owe your measure of success? “That is hard to pinpoint, but I was raised in a large family. You learn diplomacy, politics. I learned to talk and not be afraid to speak up. My father (the late Mervin Luke Brandt), in addition to being the village (of Pewaukee) milkman, was village president and police commissioner. He was chairman of the board for Waukesha County. He taught us all how to relate to the public.”

Food and drink specials, coupled with raffles, 50-50 drawings, boozy-woozy drawings and other activities — all taking place in a party atmosphere — pulls a number of the locals, as well as some from Fond du Lac and beyond. “Every penny we get goes back (to Toys for Tots),” Brandt said. The past few years, Rock the House has contributed $5,000 each to the Fond du Lac and West Bend Toys for Tots efforts. Extra money they have collected has been given to a food pantry in Lomira. And in 2007, an extra $2,000 that was raised above their $10,000 goal was given to the Red Cross to buy phone cards for soldiers to call home.

Karen Rogne, left, owner of the Rock the House Pub and Grill in Brownsville, and her assistant, Jerry Brandt, have organized major fundraising efforts since 2006 for Salvation Army and Toys for Tots. Their “Two Wheel Tuesdays” events, held the second Tuesday from June through September, have raised more than $55,000 over the past four years.

The Reporter photo by Patrick Flood “Squeak” (Terry Blankaert), dresses the part of Santa as the shopping occurs in area stores. The Rock the House shoppers have grown attentive to the needs of children in their mid- to lateteens. Rogne related how one year the group bought boom boxes and CD players on sale and “just filled” the shopping carts. Last year, they bought dozens of digital cameras.

After a mammoth 2008 campaign that saw $19,000 raised, the group helped Toys for Tots in Fond du Lac and Washington counties, along with holiday meals for Ralph Germaine, who heads the Lomira food pantry, and for 19 at-risk families in Dodge County.

“We found there are older kids still at home who still want a Christmas,” Brandt said, pointing out that most people prefer to provide toys for young children.

“There were a number of people hurt by the flooding who would never ask for help,” Brandt said. “When they found out (help) was from their ‘neighbors,’ they accepted a Christmas meal.”

“They are putting toys where they are needed,” he said.

Boost for Salvation Army Leaders at Fond du Lac’s Salvation Army have been amazed by the efforts of Rock the House. What they do for us is huge,” said Lt. James Curry of the Fond du Lac Salvation Army. “The week before (Christmas) distribution, they come to us and ask what is our greatest need in toys. They, in turn, go in and spend $5,000 at local retail stores.” The group of would-be Santas gets a list of “needs and wants” from Salvation Army and goes out shopping. Well-known customer and bartender,

Curry said the shopping is an immense help to Salvation Army.

Rock the House rocks

came to fruition and was a big hit. Meanwhile, Judy put her sewing skills to work and created another hit: the first Toys for Tots quilt that was raffled off. This year, John Jordan and Louis Lauters, owners of West Bend Harley-Davidson, donated $300 for supplies toward a king-sized quilt that featured 34 Harley store T-shirts and two matching pillows. West Bend Harley-Davidson provides many Harley prizes, including jackets and belt buckles, for use in Rock the House drawings. Another well-known Rock the House customer, “Michigan” Scott Plum of LeRoy, who is described as a “big scruffy biker,” constructed a wooden Harley ride-on tricycle that was raffled in September. Last year, he created a rocking horse-inspired wooden Harley two-wheel cycle. Michigan and his buddy, Herbie Weyer have not missed a Two Wheel Tuesday night all year.

Stan and Judy Renderman are two of the many people who are extensively involved in the Rock the House giving effort.

A couple years ago, Two Wheel Tuesdays supporters Bob and Ruth Hall of Lomira purchased a racing go-cart at Slinger Speedway that they donated as an auction item.

A few years ago, Stan suggested that they take some of the money and purchase fishing poles and tackle. The intent was for families to go fishing together.

Equity Livestock Auctioneer Stuart Cannon offered his services, and by the next year, he and a buddy purchased half of a hog at Equity to be offered as another raffle prize.

“We were told the fishing poles were the first thing gone (at distribution),” Brandt said. “We had tackle boxes and they just blew out the door.”

Prizes galore

Brandt said Stan was “choked up” that his idea

Rogne and Brandt said it’s impossible to thank everyone who helps their effort, but noted that West

Continued on Page 18.

many wheels someone arrived on.




LEFT: Santa drove up on a motorcycle to be at the Rock the House Christmas Party. Shown from left are Santa (Terry “Squeak” Blanckaert); Denise Shaffer of the Salvation Army of Fond du Lac; and Jerry Brandt of Rock the House.

The Reporter photo by Laurie Ritger RIGHT: Marine Sgt. Jesse Morris, left, of Green Bay, Eileen Sorgent of Lomira, a Rock the House employee; and Marine Cpl. Evan Garvey of Green Bay collected raffle tickets sold during the Rock the House Two Wheel Tuesday Christmas Party on Sept. 14.

The Reporter photo by Aileen Andrews Continued from Page 17.


The Jerry and Karen show

Bend Harley, Miller Beer and Radio Plus in Fond du Lac have been instrumental in donating time and prizes.

“I think we raised an extra $100 or $200 bucks,” Rogne said, smiling.

Brandt, who said he previously was Rogne’s boss at nearby Camelot Country Club and Golf Course, says he is the ringmaster “under Karen’s tent.” “None of this happens without Karen,” Brandt said. “She allows me to spend time to organize it and she never takes credit for any of this.” Brandt also credited his wife and adult daughter who sacrifice while he is wrapped up in Toys for Tots fundraising. Curry, who leads the Salvation Army, said he was “totally shocked” when he came to Rock the House. Though expecting a bigger place, he felt the huge hearts of those connected to the business. “It shows what a few people can do when they put their mind to it,” Curry said.

Radio personality Gregg Owens said the people at Rock the House “get things done.” Dan Braun, vice president of Ott Schweitzer Distributing Inc. of Milton, Wis., armed himself with a load of prizes before traveling to witness the year’s final Two Wheel Tuesday. And Wisconsin Distributing of Sun Prairie donates “a ton” of Budweiser items. Rogne said organizers were doing everything they could that night to drum up a few extra bucks. By the end of the evening, Rogne and a few Marines from Green Bay were being paid to do

An unexpected windfall came from some familiar faces. The bartender known as “Squeak” hosts his “Social Club” when he tends bar — collecting small dues or pocket change for a variety of reasons. Instead of spending the funds collected on a nice dinner or sports event, members of the “club” decided to donate its $850 to the Toys for Tots cause. “I want to thank Rock the House for what they do,” Denise Shaffer of the Salvation Army told the crowd that night. “We would not have the selection of toys we have if not for you. The kids and their parents appreciate what you do.”

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‘Rocky’Tackett honored as ‘2010 WisconsinTOPS King’ by weight-loss support group Karla Kremer Breister Special to The Reporter

Roscoe “Rocky” Tackett and his wife Shirley are staunch believers in the value of the Take Off Pounds Sensibly organization, also known as TOPS. Rocky was recently crowned the 2010 Wisconsin TOPS King for his successful weight loss efforts.

The Reporter photos by Patrick Flood

When Roscoe “Rocky” Tackett decided to take off a few pounds, he had no idea that five years later his efforts would make him a king.


Tackett was recently crowned the 2010 Wisconsin TOPS King for reaching his official goal weight in 2009, with the greatest total weight loss of all the other men and women in the state. His “before” and “after” pictures are included in the October 2010 issue of TOPS News. “I was shocked,” he said of the honor. “I thought it was really nice.” TOPS Club Inc. is a nonprofit, weight-loss education and support organization. The group is more commonly known as TOPS, which is an acronym for Take Off Pounds Sensibly.

Weight struggles “I was always thin growing up, but a stint in the

Navy and a career as an over-the-road truck driver changed all of that,” he said. “During that time, I really packed on the pounds. (I was) always eating in those greasy truck stops and then jumping back into the cab of my truck to drive some more. I hardly got any exercise at all except climbing in and out of the cab.”

weight, so she suggested they attend a TOPS meeting.

At a little more than five feet three inches tall, weighing 205 pounds was taking a toll on his health.

Support and success

“I used to get short of breath doing certain things, had sleepless nights because of snoring and woke up in the morning almost as tired as when I went to bed the night before,” he said. “My cholesterol had gotten quite high, so I had to start taking medication.” His wife, Shirley, who had success with TOPS four decades earlier, was also unhappy with her

“I didn’t have a clue what a TOPS Club was, but I agreed to go with her,” he said. “We found a TOPS Club close to our house, and we went the following Monday night. Well, that was June 13, 2005, and my life hasn’t been the same since.” There are several TOPS meeting options in the Fond du Lac area. The Tacketts joined TOPS 0047 Fond du Lac, which meets Monday nights at Covenant United Methodist Church, 20 N. Marr St. Meetings include a weigh-in and an informational program. “Everybody was so friendly and we felt very welcome,” he said of his first meeting. “We’ve learned so many things from the programs that are presented at the meetings and other learning tools from our


TOPS members. I finally was learning how to actually eat healthy and how to portion my food at mealtime.” Tackett reached his goal weight of 155 pounds in 2009 and has managed to keep it off. He has been a monthly Best Loser, weekly Best Loser, Division Winner and has received other awards.


He also is a proud member of KOPS (Keep Off Pounds Sensibly), the group TOPS members may join once they’ve reached their goal weight. “I have not given up any foods, but I am learning how much to eat and how to make better choices,” he said. “I am now retired, and I walk every day on the treadmill and ride the aerodyne bike.” Shirley, who has lost 35 pounds, is proud of his success. “We count calories,” she said. “It is nice to do it together. He beat me to his goal, but I’m grateful for that.”

First king from 0047 His fellow members are also impressed with his achievement. “We’ve never had a state king or queen before,” said TOPS 0047 Fond du Lac Leader Tammy Warner. “I think it is exciting. I couldn’t believe it. Everybody was so happy for him.” Warner, who has maintained her weight-loss for seven years, said Tackett is also doing well as a new KOPS member. “It can be hard to keep your KOPS status,” she said. “You still have to watch what you eat and make the right choices. It is not an easy task.”

Name: Roscoe “Rocky” Tackett

The TOPS philosophy combines healthy eating, regular exercise, wellness information, awards and recognition and support from others.

Home community: White Lake, Wis.

Age: 71

Number of years in Fond du Lac community: 33

“We are all in it together,” Warner said. “There are people in the group that have the same problems that you do. They are struggling with the same issues that you have.”

Occupation: Retired. Formerly, he was an over-the-road truck driver.

Tackett said he owes much of his success to the support he’s received.

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Roscoe “Rocky” Tackett weighs in at a meeting of the local TOPS 47 group at Covenant Church, 20 N. Marr St.

The Reporter photos by Patrick Flood

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“I owe so much to my wife, all my TOPS pals and my KOPS members for all their moral support helping to get me to my goal weight,” he said.

Reaction to being included in the Success section: “I’m excited.”




cheese to please Special touches, great products help Casa Anna owner carve unique niche in Fond du Lac business community

Name: Cindy Blank Age: 50 Years in the community: All but about three, and then she returned. Casa Anna Cheese Shop celebrates 11 years in Fond du Lac in November.

Monica Walk

Occupation: Owner/operator of Casa Anna Cheese Store, opened in 1999

Location: 204 W. Division St.;


Reaction to being selected for a Success section story: “I am honored that somebody feels I made a difference in the community and feels my business is a success.” To what do you owe your measure of success? “My upbringing. My parents worked hard—and still do—and instilled that in us. Determination — that it is going to work no matter what. And community; the community has embraced the store.”

Special to The Reporter Casa Anna Cheese Store owner Cindy Blank displays cheese samples in the showroom of her store at 204 W. Division St.

The Reporter photos by Patrick Flood It started with a bag of cheese curds. Technically, nacho cheese, salsa and chips came first — but the cheese curds provided the “light bulb moment” for Casa Anna Cheese Store owner Cindy Blank.

ing number of stores. During a delivery to a local Pick ’n Save store, Blank was asked if she could get cheese curds for the store. With husband Lewis Blank “working in cheese his whole life,” the answer was an easy, “Sure.”

Blank was an entrepreneur before she opened the retail cheese shop 11 years ago. Friendship with the owner of Kara Foods, the Fond du Lac-based manufacturer of Mexican snack foods, had inspired Blank to create a business providing tortilla chips, nacho cheese and salsa to stores up and down the Fox River Valley.

So, Blank added cheese curds to her route. Then she began providing cheese for grocery delis: cutting, packaging, boxing, and driving and delivering the cheese herself. She included Italian cheese items from Fond du Lac’s Park Cheese, her husband’s employer, which shipped most of its product to the East Coast and did not have a local outlet.

Her Casa Anna line of snacks — a reference to her middle name, Ann — was doing well in a grow-

“It was a five-day-a-week thing,” Blank recounted. “Every week, you go take the order. Then, two

Meeting her customers

She looked around and saw that Fond du Lac no longer had a true cheese store since the closure of the Tolibia shop on Scott Street, and she was aware that people would stop in the Park Cheese wholesale office looking to make purchases. She also was aware of a small, empty storefront on Division Street, attached to the Park Cheese storage buildings. Blank could recall going to the shop in the 1970s and ’80s with her mother to buy cheeses and cold meats. One day, Blank told her husband she wanted to open that old storefront as a cheese store. The couple started the business with their own money, painting walls and leasing coolers before opening for business as Casa Anna Cheese Store/Fresh Pizza on Nov. 21, 1999. They kept the Casa Anna name, which had earned recognition during Blank’s grocery store stocking days.

“We didn’t know what we were in for,” Blank laughed. “That first Christmas was crazy. We were blown away by the business. I thought, ‘My gosh, what did I do?’”

Growing the business Learning came from the rough spots.


While in stores and stocking shelves, Blank realized that she never really saw who bought her products.


days later you bring the order back. You stock the shelf. It was going really good.”

“I learned people want to look at things, so I have boxes with prices,” she said of the busy holiday season, for which she already is preparing fliers in October. “Every year we grow and add new products. Christmas is the busiest time of year, by any means. Those three weeks are gone in a flash. People don’t shop early for Christmas gifts if it’s cheese.” At the beginning, Blank cut and packaged the cheese as customers ordered it. Today, that holiday work is done before December arrives. And Blank now is able to carry an inventory supplied by vendors, while in the early days she used to drive to suppliers herself to load her van with the cheese she needed — and could afford — to stock. Since Day 1, she has offered shipping of gifts for customers, using Federal Express at Christmas and the U.S. Postal Service the

Continued on Page 24.

Family feels ‘at home’ working at Casa Anna Monica Walk

Special to The Reporter

When Cindy Blank’s daughter arrived from Utah to help run Casa Anna Cheese Store during last year’s holiday season, she was returning to an old role. The Blanks had two teens at home when the cheese shop opened, and both were required to work daily. That’s because Casa Anna really is a family business, even if Cindy’s face is the one most frequently visible in the shop.

“It puts you in a different atmosphere, with family,” Blank noted, “a different bonding experience. “My parents, Chuck and Ann Hess, are here pretty much every day,” Blank smiled. “My dad is in his 70s and he’ll go to the post office for me, cut labels. He’ll pack cheese ’til the sun comes up if I let him.” She added, “My mom helps, too. She makes pizzas and talks to people. My mom is called ‘Casa Anna Mom’ all the time, and she and my dad hand out pizza coupons and tell people, ‘Go see my daughter.’ They are my best advertising.” Her parents also volunteer in the community. In fact, both parents have been nominated for Cheers for Volunteers, and Ann Hess was honored as volunteer of the year in 2010. “I learned my work habits from them,” Blank said.

TOP: Cindy Blank poses in front of her popular cheese shop at 204 W. Division St. MIDDLE: Cheese and sausage trays like this one are popular among Casa Anna customers. BOTTOM: Casa Anna Cheese Store owner Cindy Blank displays packages of cheese curds, one of the products that makes the shop locally famous.

The Reporter photos by Patrick Flood

Now that the Blanks’ children are grown, younger nieces and nephews are being welcomed into the store to learn about customer service and good work habits. Blank’s siblings also drop in, and step in to help when needed.




Continued from Page 23.

readily available for customers ordering cheese, veggie and taco trays for funerals.

rest of the year. “I’m not big on raising prices,” she said, noting she hasn’t made changes in two years. “I’m not out to get rich, but to provide a good product and to make people happy coming here.”

She stocks varied “Cheesehead” memorabilia. She’s in communication with the Fond du Lac Area Convention and Visitors Bureau and prepared when a bus tour stops in. And, she laughingly calls herself a “local travel agent” — giving visitors advice on where to eat and what to do, and how to get there.

Customers are welcomed by cheese samples atop the cooler, often the Wisconsin specialty of cheese curds, which many travelers have not encountered before. Curds are a big seller with those visitors and with homesick former Wisconsinites now living elsewhere.

And repeat customers show Blank how people have come to rely on her business, both local residents and those visiting the area who regularly include a stop at Casa Anna in their vacation plans.

Wisconsin favorites Other favorites include Cheddar, Cojack, Pepperjack, Widmer’s Brick and string cheese, which Blank carries in five varieties: Mozzarella, Pepperjack, smoked, whips and Provolone.

“People depend on me. … they want their cheese,” she said. “The community is a big part of my business being as good as it is,” she said, noting how in addition to local customer support, members of the business community back each other with referrals. “Every year we grow and add new products. … I’ve never regretted it.”

The Bella Vitano line — made by Sartori in Plymouth with flavors that include merlot, raspberry ale, black pepper and balsamic — is a big seller and often sought by customers of Cujak’s Wine Market, which pairs the cheeses at wine tastings. As the sole local purveyor of Park Cheese products, Blank is pleased to carry its award-winning aged Provolone. About 99 percent of the Casa Anna stock is produced in the state. “I want to represent Wisconsin,” Blank said. “I stock a couple of imports because people watch cooking shows and there is no place else to buy them,” Blank said of cheeses like Manchego, Ementhaler, Gruyere, Pecorino Romano and an imported Havarti.

Special touches She has become a shopkeeper of special touches: keeping paper plates and plastic utensils on hand to give to picnicking visitors who want to enjoy their purchase on the shore of Lake Winnebago; having a supply of sympathy cards

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Success 2010

you’ve got a friend

Dave Oldenburg is tireless in his efforts to help the disabled Dorothy Bliskey

Special to The Reporter

No task is too big or too small for Dave Oldenburg when it comes to helping the developmentally disabled. He has built his personal and professional life around that mission. He advocates for the disabled through his church, Faith Lutheran, where he was instrumental in helping create a special Thursday night non-denominational worship service for all Fond du Lac area disabled citizens.

He also advocates for another group of disabled people — veterans — by offering assistance in attaining a little known pension benefit that can be used for daily living tasks they or a spouse can no longer perform.

Dave Oldenburg and his son Nathan get together to talk on a recent afternoon at Brooke Industries, 1257 Industrial Parkway in Fond du Lac. Dave is devoted to developmentally disabled citizens in the Fond du Lac area.

The Reporter photos by Justin Connaher

Through his longtime membership as a Kiwanian and close affiliations with the local Arc, Brooke Industries, group homes and vet-

Continued on Page 26.

He advocates for those with special needs through his business, Oldenburg Financial and Insurance Services, where he helps parents of all ages plan for the care of their disabled sons or daughters when they no longer can.



Success LEFT: Disabled Fond du Lac citizens gather Thursday evenings at Faith Lutheran Church, 55 N. Prairie Road, for non-denominational worship services. Dave Oldenburg was instrumental in scheduling the Thursday night services. RIGHT: Nathan Oldenburg is flanked by his parents, Diane and Dave, at a recent worship service at Faith Lutheran Church.

The Reporter photos by Justin Connaher Continued from Page 25. eran groups, Oldenburg takes his message on the road.

and legal method available to leave an inheritance or make a gift for the benefit of your child and preserve your child’s Medicaid eligibility,” he said.

Emotional roadblocks also occur, he pointed out.

Passion for helping Oldenburg’s passion for helping people with special needs is personal. The youngest of his four sons, Nathan, 24, is developmentally disabled. Born with cerebral palsy, Nathan requires assistance with nearly all daily living tasks. He is the catalyst for Oldenburg’s personal journey as a spokesman for the disabled. “Nathan is our special gift from God,” Oldenburg said. “He is my inspiration every day. He’s why I do what I do.”

In his vocation, Oldenburg speaks to support groups and individual families about planning for the future of their developmentally disabled children.


“For a good portion of Nathan’s life, I relied on government agencies, the school system, other parents and what I read to try and figure out how I could best help Nathan and provide for him now and later on,” Oldenburg said. “As a parent I eventually figured out that if I didn’t advocate for Nathan nobody would.” “My current profession allows me access to information I might not have known about previously. These families need help because they don’t know what to do for the future of their child.” “I touch on establishing trusts for your child and why that is important,” Oldenburg said, noting he simply gives advice, but works closely with attorneys who create trusts for families. “Establishing a special needs trust is the only practical

will take care of them. Blood does not necessarily assure a good caregiver, and siblings may not want the responsibility,” Oldenburg says.

In his presentations, financial planner Dave Oldenburg of Fond du Lac discusses hurdles that parents of special needs children face. A six-point list follows: • Complete a life-planning guide for their child • Understand, create and properly fund a special needs trust • Understand how government benefits coordinate and offset each other • Understand the risks and consequences of leaving their estate to a sibling for the benefit of a child with special needs • Understand the need to provide financially for their child’s future caregiver • Overcome and face the emotional hurdles of planning for their child’s future

Caregivers, guardians When Oldenburg meets with parents of a disabled child, he discusses successor caregivers and guardians. “I explain factors to consider when deciding the best way to select and approach a future caregiver. Too often it is assumed that a child’s sibling

“As parents and caregivers, we must consider our own demise. Logically, we know we should do certain things but emotionally it’s difficult,” Oldenburg said, noting he still struggles with it personally. “But, if I can help one parent, one child, it is worth the effort.” Meanwhile, seeing his son Nathan and others like him enjoy their own special church service and develop personal skills at Brooke Industries and Arc of Fond du Lac brings great pride and satisfaction to Oldenburg.

Insight and drive Others also express pride in Oldenburg and his passion to help the disabled. “I am so impressed with Dave’s commitment to both family and community,” said Sue Grich, counseling services coordinator at Brooke Industries, where Nathan ventures daily to develop work and personal skills. “Although having a child with disabilities has its challenges, Dave views Nathan as a gift and a blessing. From Nathan, Dave gets the insight and drive to help other disabled in the community,” Grich added. “Dave once expressed how thankful he was to have his path so clearly defined,” Grich continued. “While many choose to ignore their purpose in life, Dave embraces and runs with it. For those of us working in the field, we are truly grateful.”

Special to The Reporter In addition to developmentally disabled individuals, Dave Oldenburg of Fond du Lac is able to advise another group — disabled veterans who may not be aware that help is available through the government-run Veterans Administration. Financial assistance is granted through a taxfree Aid and Attendance Pension offered by the VA for disabled veterans and spouses who are unable to perform daily life tasks. A series of legal paperwork and government red tape that can take up to nine months to complete is required in order to seek eligibility, but Oldenburg says the route to get there is worth it. “The only time a person won’t get their money back from the lawyers who are working on the paperwork is if the applicant pulls out of the process. If you apply and your application is denied, you get your refund,” Oldenburg said, explaining he does not get paid for any of the application process. “I simply serve in an advisory capacity to coordinate and work closely with lawyers who are VA accredited attorneys or elder-law attorneys.” “If the application is accepted, the applicant can end up with anywhere from $12,000 to $30,000 per year for the rest of their lives,” Old-

enburg said, noting that to qualify, the disabled vet either needs to be 65 or older or any age and disabled — or have a surviving spouse in need of daily care. “It is the highest level awarded to a veteran or surviving spouse who require assistance with daily living skills.

two states with two daughters. The power of attorney was in one state and mom and the other daughter in another. There were a number of things that needed to be taken care of before the application was submitted, and the process took months.”

Little used government program

Oldenburg recalls the excitement that occurred when the application was approved, citing notification he received from one of the daughters who shared the story.

“This is a little known and little used government program for veterans that’s been around since 1951, and I’m here to spread the word it’s available,” Oldenburg said.

Happy birthday

Government statistics show that only five percent of potentially eligible veterans actually receive the benefit. Other reports state that only one in seven widows who qualify actually receive a monthly check, according to Oldenburg.

“She said her mother, who was in an assisted living home, had received a letter from the VA telling her she was approved for the benefit. The letter arrived right on the mother’s birthday, and one of the daughters was with her at the time.

“The biggest thrill is when veterans meet with me and pull out their service papers, Oldenburg said. “It is a badge of honor to them. You see their eyes light up and the pride that shows on their faces.”

“Staff at the facility was somewhat alarmed by the commotion they heard coming from the mom’s room,” Oldenburg said. “After hurrying to her room, staff saw them jumping up and down and screaming. It was the best birthday present the mom could have ever received. It took the worry away,” Oldenburg said.

One case in particular stands out for Oldenburg. “I had been working long distance between


Dorothy Bliskey


Financial planner helps veterans cut through red tape

“It brings a smile to my face every time I think of it.”

Name: Dave Oldenburg Age: 56 Occupation: Financial planner Home community: Fond du Lac

Your reaction to being nominated for a Success section story: “I am humbled by the honor of being chosen to be featured. Focusing on the areas I do comes easy because of the passion I have for helping others. It is simply a way for me to give back.” To what do you owe your measure of success? “I owe my success to my faith, the support of my wife Diane, my family and to my son Nathan who is my inspiration. Lastly, to all the people at the Arc and Brooke Industries who work tirelessly and selflessly to serve people like my son. I strive to emulate their passion and caring.”

Members and supporters of Brooke Industries in Fond du Lac gather around a club banner. Brooke Industries employs local residents with disabilities. From left are Jennifer Westhuis, Fond du Lac; Sue Grich, adviser; Aaron Fitchtner, Eden; David Bellows, Fond du Lac; Gary Anderson, Fond du Lac; and Dave Oldenburg, adviser.

The Reporter photos by Justin Connaher

Number of years in the community: 56 years




the mayor of main street Spirited Patrick Schuppe develops reputation as one of Fond du Lac’s most colorful characters Harley Buchholz

Special to The Reporter “Patrick is Patrick.” More that one of Patrick Schuppe’s friends and mentors around town used the phrase as they talked about his life and times in Fond du Lac. “Around here I’m known — this is what Red (Gary “Red” Muellenbach of Central Barber) names me — as the mayor of Main Street,” Schuppe said with some pride during a mid-morning breakfast at the downtown Cousins Subs.

His success story is outside the norm. He hasn’t risen to the top of any field. But he’s excelled at surviving — beyond the expectations of many who have watched him develop into an individual who’s certainly among Fond du Lac’s more widely recognized personalities.


He’s generally front and center at musical events, indoors and out, can be seen at local festivals, is a regular Main Street store visitor, a twice-a-day YMCA user, likes to stop at the library and Senior Center and eats at a number of local restaurants. “A couple of years ago we were trying to raise money for a Neighborhood Watch program,” recalled Sandy Ritchie, Schuppe’s boss at Domino’s Pizza, “and the chief of police was here and the city manager. Pat came in and walked right up to them and started talking.” Schuppe delivers doorknob hanger brochures for Domino’s. That’s been his job for more than three years. Before that he worked at Marian College for

Lifelong Fond du Lac resident Patrick Schuppe is a passionate supporter of the Fond du Lac YMCA. The new YMCA entrance is shown in the background.

The Reporter photo by Patrick Flood

Success 2010 LEFT: Patrick Schuppe occupies his favorite seat at Central Barber while he reads the paper and shares his favorite news items of the day with barbers and patrons. The Reporter photo by Patrick Flood CENTER: Main Street regular Patrick Schuppe enjoys lunch and leisure-time reading at Cousins Subs, one of his favorite downtown locations. RIGHT: Central Barber owner Red Muellenbach adds finishing touches to Pat Schuppe’s haircut. Harley Buchholz photo for The Reporter

Age: 55 Occupation: Door to door brochure deliveries for Domino’s Pizza. Reaction to being nominated for a Success section story: “It’s a nice honor. I’m sure the idea came from one of Red’s (Gary “Red” Muellenbach of Central Barber) most famous customers, (The Reporter’s managing editor) Mike Mentzer.” To what do you attribute your measure of success? “The good people that I deal (and dealt) with, like George Becker (former Giddings & Lewis president), John Ahern (of J.F. Ahern Co.), Burt Peters (former Wisconsin Power & Light Co. manager) in the big picture of the community. In the smaller picture (he named Main Street business people GOP politicians and a few Democrats, and courthouse figures). One of the judges is Judge (Dale) English who got me adopted.”

eight years and at Brooke Industries for 18 years. He also had short-term employment at the police department and Bob and Bonnie’s Donuts.

Man about town He was born on March 17 — hence the name Patrick — 55 years ago, a victim of brain damage at birth. It was through his own strong will and the love and perseverance of his adoptive parents and the social workers and teachers of the time that he survived to become the person he is today. He truly is a man about town. A couple of times a week he holds forth at

Central Barber on the state of the city, state and nation. Muellenbach and his partner, Wade Mastek, feed him a few quarters and he walks across the street to buy a morning paper. He returns to the shop, takes the center chair and proceeds to read the paper — often aloud to spark discussion — and punctuates it with a couple of his favorite expressions: “Oh, boy!” or “Oh, brother!” or “Holy mackerel!” By that time of the morning — around 9:30 — he’s already watched a couple of TV news shows, talked over the early news with the guys at the Y, read The Reporter and walked downtown to Cousins Subs for a second breakfast. There he reads the New York Times and USA TODAY. He’s well prepared for whatever discussion comes up at the barbershop.

Those who know him “He’s big into politics and the city,” Muellenbach noted. “You have to understand Pat. If you were in a trivia contest, you’d want him on your team.... Music or politics — I don’t think there’s anyone better.” Dr. Ray Wifler, director of the Fond du Lac Symphonic Band, said Pat “has an incredible compendium of knowledge about many things, including music.” From the audience he’s been known to correct the maestro on aspects like the date of a tune’s publication. “He’s a special person,” Wifler went on. “I believe we in Fond du Lac show a great deal of love, even respect, for Patrick.” Schuppe is candid during an interview at Cousins, in between interjecting comments about various stories of interest in the Times. With him, every question can lead to a side story that involves more friends.

cation,” he said. Their support, the help of Robert Rucks, who was director of Pupil Services for the Fond du Lac School District, and “understanding teachers” saw him through. He received his Goodrich High School diploma in 1973. “Patrick’s way of working at anything he had an interest in has developed far beyond any expectations we had when he started school,” Rucks said. “Now, 50 years later, I am happy to see his life as full as it is and to call him a friend.”

Some bitter memories Schuppe does not look back on those early years with fondness. He remembered “all the characters who bullied (him) like crazy; even in high school it was hard...all the hell I went through.” But he’s happy his birth mom “did the right thing” and he’s pushed back the past. “Now, no; then, yes,” he said of any bitterness he held. But, he went on, “I learned two things: If I get hit, slap back. That’s from my dad. My mom said, ‘If they bully or if they tease, don’t pay attention.’” Nowadays, he accepts friendly teasing and can snap back with a wisecrack of his own, especially to critics of his Republican favorites. Politics is a favorite topic. He wears his conservatism openly and will happily debate anyone professing liberalism. He’s loud and some of his staunchest friends will acknowledge that he can be irritating to some who aren’t familiar with him. But, they quickly add, “Patrick is Patrick,” and, they note, a lot of his extra enthusiasm of earlier days has calmed. “It’s all good friendship,” said Muellenbach.

He explained that his teen-age birth mother gave him up for adoption and Carl and Florence Schuppe took him in.

Mastek added, “He makes me laugh. He’s a good comedian.”

“They fought for my rights and even my edu-

Continued on Page 30.

Name: Patrick Schuppe




YMCA honors Schuppe for donation Harley Buchholz

Special to The Reporter

Erik Schoff, MD Ophthalmologist

Patrick Schuppe, a twice-daily YMCA user, will be among eight Y members to be recognized at a fall gala for major donors to the Y’s capital fund drive. “We’re sharing eight stories,” said Greg Giles, executive director of the Y. “His is one of the eight.”

Eye Care Services

Giles said there will be story boards and videos. “Pat has made a very nice contribution to the capital campaign in support of the Y... (he’s) a big part of our life here. Many members and I have said we don’t know what we’d do without Patrick.”

A wealth of experience �� ����� ��� �����

Very proud of the recognition, Schuppe calls it “a really big event.” He said he uses the Y “a lot.” Giles confirmed that Schuppe is a twotime-a-day visitor “almost every week” unless he’s visiting his sister and nieces and nephews in Colorado.

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Aside from one of his favorite pastimes, talking with people and discussing news events, his workout routine at the Y includes weights, aquatic boot camp and water aerobics, yoga, dance, stationary bike workouts, “everything but the kitchen sink.”

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He’s there very early, usually out the door of his Western Avenue apartment by 4:30 a.m. after he gets “organized,” and he goes back to the Y for evening workouts. Then, he said, he’s usually in bed by 8 p.m.

Continued from Page 29. Passionate about family But he gets serious when he talks about his family — “my passion,” extending to a great-grandnephew. He said he’s particularly concerned about his mom, who has Alzheimer’s, and a niece with Down syndrome. His mother lives in a Colorado nursing home near his sister and nieces and nephews. He said he tries to visit them once or twice a year. He also has relatives in Fond du Lac and expressed his pleasure with the many people who attended the wake and funeral to pay their respects following his father’s death. Schuppe lives in an apartment on Western Avenue, has for nine years and enjoys being on his own with “good neighbors.” He walks to most of his favorite spots, sometimes taking a taxi or bus to more distant locations in the community.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, call (920) 926-8472 or (800) 374-4556, or the Optical Shop at (920) 926-8316.

‘Heart of gold’ He said he has enough income to “live frugally. I watch every penny.” Social Security disability supplements his Domino’s income. He takes advantage of deals and gift cards and occasional freebies from merchants.

Amy Zguta, MD Ophthalmologist

Pamela Gehl Brown, OD, Optometrist

Stuart Kosikowski, OD, Optometrist

“He doesn’t have the finances to help,” said Muellenbach, “but he does other things to help. He’s got a heart of gold.” Recently, Muellenbach related, a man passed out at the Y. He was taken to the hospital. Schuppe gathered the man’s clothing and belongings and walked to the hospital to deliver them. For Muellenbach, that act of kindness speaks volumes.

420 E. Division Street, Fond du Lac 5001193906

He’s strong from his twice-daily Y workouts and his walking, showing calves that would make a professional biker jealous.


Karen Nixon, MD Ophthalmologist


Success 2010

racing red hawks

Russell Plummer

The Reporter |

Coach Ric Damm’s vision turns Ripon College into mountain biking power

Ric Damm, foreground, coach of the Division 2 championship Ripon College mountain biking team, poses with team members in a wooded area near campus. Bikers from left are Benjamin Jones, Manitowoc; Jeremy Brouwer, Erie, Colo.; Renee DeBruin, Appleton; Rosegte Reynolds, Chicago; Andy Fehrenbach, Stevens Point; and Paul Meuer, Elburn, Ill.

The Reporter photo by Justin Connaher

Ripon College is the only university in Wisconsin that offers a varsity mountain biking team. And after Damm’s proposal to build a mountain biking course at Ripon College earned enough votes on the Pepsi Refresh Project’s website, the campus will be even sweeter for people who prefer life on two wheels. Pepsi’s project began in 2010 as a means to help “refresh” communities, said Melisa Tezanos, communications director for Pepsi. Any citizen can submit ideas on the Pepsi Refresh website in tiers as high as a $250,000 grant. “We accept up to 1,000 ideas every month across all of the tiers,” Tezanos said. “The top vote-getters in each of the categories receive the grants.” She said Pepsi is using money the company saved by not advertising during the 2010 Super Bowl. The Refresh Project will be expanding worldwide, she added.

“We’ve received some really positive feedback about the project,” Tezanos said. “It is energizing internally in the organization as well.”

“If they want help this summer, I am more than willing to jump in and do some manual labor,” DeBruin said.

Red Hawks racing

Damm noted it will cost about $8,000 for the IMBA to visit Ripon College and put together a design. The $25,000 could cover the entire project.

The Ripon College Red Hawks have flourished for three seasons even though the nearest mountain biking trail lies more than 20 miles away from campus. Damm says the new trail should be completed before the fall 2011 season. It will be located in the woods of Ceresco Prairie Conservancy near the campus gymnasium. The wooded area is not part of the restoration project, said Damm. “We do a lot of practicing. Without a decent trail, practice is a little hard,” said junior Renee DeBruin. “I am really stoked we are getting the bike trail.” Representatives from International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) will be visiting Ripon College in November to survey the land, plot out the trail and give the team an estimate on the cost of construction.

He and the students will be involved in helping build the trail, which will be open for the public to use. “If this grant did not come through, we would have looked to volunteers, members of the team and anyone else to help,” said Damm, who is also director of publications and institutional image at Ripon College. “We would have put in a lot of sweat equity. … We will still be involved in the building. We will need people to be familiar with the trail and how it was built so that we can maintain it over time. You just don’t put down a highway and leave it for 100 years.”

Wish granted On Aug. 1, Pepsi accepted Damm’s proposal. He then began gathering support to stay in the top

Continued on Page 32.

Back-to-back Midwest Collegiate Cycling Conference Division 2 team championships and a cool $25,000 from Pepsi have quenched coach Ric Damm’s thirst for success.




Name: Ric Damm Age: 39 LEFT: These Ripon College students have found a sport they enjoy as members of the only college varsity mountain biking team in Wisconsin. From left are Rosegte Reynolds, Chicago; Paul Meuer, Elburn, Ill.; Jeremy Brouwer, Erie, Colo.; Andy Fehrenbach, Stevens Point; Renee DeBruin, Appleton; and Benjamin Jones, Manitowoc. RIGHT: Members of the Ripon College mountain biking team practice on a trail near campus. The team will benefit from a $25,000 grant from the Pepsi Refresh Project. Money will be used to build a biking trail.

The Reporter photos by Justin Connaher Continued from Page 31. 10 in the voting process. “We started e-mailing our alumni, utilized Facebook and used every method I could think of,” Damm said. Damm went to bed Aug. 31 not knowing if his proposal would hang on to the 10th spot. “It was a huge relief when I found out,” Damm said of the voting results. “That entire month of August was constantly asking people to vote. I was optimistic because alumni and cyclists in general are very supportive. … However, you are up against other deserving projects trying to secure money from Pepsi.”

The team only had nine members in 2010. Not every student on campus has gone on bike tours with family like sophomore team member Andy Fehrenbach. “I think there will definitely be some traffic on the trails from people who are curious to see what it is like,” Fehrenbach said. “I think it will be used by local bikers from around the area and, of course, our training.” While the team could grow following the completion of the trail, Damm still realizes he is filling a niche for students looking at Ripon College. Damm suggested people looking to become professional mountain bikers should not come to Ripon College for only sports.

Ripon College received the first $12,500 check in early October, Damm said.

like getting this bike trail will open the eyes of the rest of the students on how exciting and how enjoyable biking can be. … I hope it will bring more students on the team.”

“Not until we actually got the check did I take that huge sigh and realize we finally did it,” Damm said.

Ripon College has given away more than 500 bikes over the past three years to freshmen who pledge not to bring a car to campus.



“I am pretty vocal about (mountain biking). A lot of kids don’t understand it,” DeBruin said. “I feel


DeBruin is hoping a new trail coupled with conference championships will develop greater interest on campus, which already embraces biking.

“Our niche is getting a quality education on top of the support you need to compete with cycling,” he said.

For more information, visit: •

Home community: Ripon (born/ raised in Fond du Lac) Number of years in the community: 15 Occupation: Director of publications and institutional image (full-time); and head coach of cycling (part-time) Reaction to being nominated for a Success section story: “I’m quite surprised to have been nominated personally, but gladly accept the honor on behalf of Ripon College and the cycling team.” To what do you owe your measure of success? “Any success that I can claim is owed to those around me. First and foremost, I have to acknowledge my wife, who has made many sacrifices on my behalf… “Of course, I have to thank my parents, Dick and Judy Damm of Fond du Lac, who have played the greatest role in making me who I am today and who have always been supportive. “I must thank John Lanser, a longtime friend, who ultimately nurtured my infatuation with cycling into a true love; the folks at Fond du Lac and Oshkosh Cyclery (namely John and Carol Bartow), who have been my dealers, my mechanics and my friends; and all of the cyclists from Ripon, Fond du Lac, Oshkosh and beyond who have shared the roads and trails with me, challenged me, inspired me and fueled my passion.”


Championship team is built on solid foundation


A Ripon College biking team rider leads the pack during a practice session near campus.

Russell Plummer

The Reporter photo by Justin Connaher

Three years of existence, two conference championships and a shared passion for the sport have set the foundation of Ripon College mountain biking. Head Coach Ric Damm has been competing in biking for 12 years and was charged with the task of building the team. The 2010 season ended with the nine-member team capturing another Midwest Collegiate Cycling Conference Division 2 team championship, junior Renee DeBruin and sophomore Eric Smith capturing individual division championships and sophomore Andy Fehrenbach joining the duo to

earn a trip to national competition. “The advantage of us offering a varsity sport is the student doesn’t have to worry about how to get to or afford a race,” Damm said. “The school takes care of that from a financial standpoint.” Freshman Jeremy Brouwer said mountain biking has more of a thrill than racing on a road bike. “It takes more skill and it is just more fun,” Brouwer said. “The thrill of a road hill at 30 mph is nothing compared to the thrill of going down a rocky, steep and technical trail at 20 mph. It’s amazing to race and pretty fun to watch.”

DeBruin said the team is close and always supportive when individuals take to the trails. “It is a mental and physical sport,” DeBruin said. “When you are dying physically, you’ve got to be strong mentally. Your teammates are there when you are coming around an opening in a track to cheer you on.” Damm said he will continue to build the team and the interest in the sport of mountain biking. “Whatever I can do to inspire other people to get on a bike and enjoy it the same way that I do is a bonus,” he said.



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the numbers

add up

Area man goes from high school dropout to head of one of fastest-growing private accounting firms in U.S. Dorothy Bliskey

Special to The Reporter Wayne Huberty is a high school dropout whose first job experience as a teenager was in the Navy, where he earned his GED, worked as a medic and found himself involved in the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. By 1965, after a four-year stint in the Navy, he grabbed the chance to earn a college degree through a newly created GI bill, for which he qualified due to his participation in the Cuban crisis. “I knew I wanted more education,” said Huberty, who for nearly 30 years has owned and operated Huberty & Associates S.C., a Fond du Lac certified public accounting firm with 31 employees — 15 of whom are CPAs, including Huberty.

His firm was named by the national INC magazine in 2009 and again this year as one of the fastest growing private companies in the United States. In 2008 Forbes magazine also honored Huberty & Associates by naming it “one of the most reliable CPA firms in the Midwest.”


Looking back, Huberty recalls how at age 11 he received his first invitation to embark on a career in farming — one his dad was having a hard time handling with a bad back.

Farming wasn’t for him “We were on a farm near Mount Calvary and I was the third oldest of nine children — the oldest boy,” Huberty said. “My dad told me that when I was out of high school I could take over the farm if I wanted.” Huberty already knew then that farming wasn’t

Wayne Huberty, who has owned and operated Huberty & Associates S.C. for nearly 30 years, confers with an employee on an accounting matter. His business operates as a certified public accounting firm and employs 31 people.

The Reporter photo by Patrick Flood for him: “I saw my friends who lived in the village playing ball and having all kinds of fun. I wanted to be able to do that too. I told Dad not to stay on the farm for me.”

“Two of my friends were joining the Navy,” Huberty said. “It sounded exciting — the idea to join the Navy and see the world. So in 1959 I joined with them.”

When Huberty was still 11, his dad sold the farm and ventured into a new career as a feed salesman. The family moved from the farm into Mount Calvary and later to Plymouth when his dad was transferred there.

While in the Navy, Huberty’s mission was to learn a trade.

“By then I was in high school,” Huberty said. “I attended through my junior year, but I was not an inspired student. I was a restless young man.”

“I was interested in the construction end of the Navy where they build airstrips and those types of things,” he said, noting he pictured himself as either a heavy equipment operator or carpenter. “In filling out the form, they asked what my third choice was,” Huberty recalled. “They asked

Age: 68


Occupation: Founder/owner of Huberty & Associates, S.C., a certified public accounting firm


Name: Wayne Huberty

Home community: Fond du Lac Number of years in the community: 32 Your reaction to being nominated for a Success section story: “I am surprised and honored. It is humbling to be recognized for doing something in a profession that I find challenging but also extremely rewarding. I have thoroughly enjoyed my career.”

The Reporter photo by Patrick Flood if I had thought about being a hospital medic.”

Impact of Navy experience When Huberty’s orders arrived from boot camp, he learned that he had been assigned as a hospital medic at Great Lakes Naval Hospital in Illinois. His first role was in the pediatric ward, followed by the newborn nursery. “Kind of a switch from operating steam shovels and bulldozers,” Huberty said. His medic assignments in the Navy then took him to Camp Pendleton, California — a Marine Corps camp. “The Navy supplied the Marine Corps with medics,” Huberty said. “I had been assigned to a mobile field hospital and trained in combat. It was similar to the TV series MASH, the Army counterpart to ours.” With his Navy unit, he ventured as far as Okinawa and Cuba, traveling by ship from San Diego to the Caribbean waters near Cuba during the 1962 Cuban Missile Blockade. “(President) Kennedy was serious,” Huberty recalled, noting that he was aboard ship for two months. “We were battle ready. If they hadn’t removed the missiles, an invasion would have occurred.” After his commitment with the Navy ended, Huberty sought further education. He went on to earn a technical college degree in Elkhart, Ind. as a lab and x-ray technician, acquiring his first job at a hospital in Two Rivers and then Fond du Lac, where he worked at the Fond du Lac Clinic.

Huberty says he enjoyed the medical field. In fact, when the government came out with a new GI bill in 1965, he jumped at the chance to earn a college degree. He even considered medical school. “I would have stayed in medicine, but I was 24, married and had a child. Plus, I had trouble narrowing down my area of interest in medicine,” he pointed out.

Giving business a chance “Ultimately, I decided to give business and accounting a try since I liked dealing with numbers,” he added. Huberty earned a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration from University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh in 1970 while he was married with two children and working at the Fond du Lac Clinic. “Those years…were some of the most rewarding years of my life,” he said. In the end, Huberty credits his experience with the Navy and his own method of trying out various career tracks as the solution for finding the best fit for a satisfying longtime career in the accounting field. “I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for the Navy, my pursuits in further education and the dedicated staff who make our firm the success that it is,” he said.

Growing the business Huberty & Associates does much more than just year-end taxes. While it specializes in tax

“Over half of our professionals have previously worked for international, national or regional accounting firms that bring diverse training, experiences and expertise to our firm. Those varied parts make us a stronger team.

planning and preparation, the company also handles estate, financial and investment plans; college savings plans; business problem-solving; and computer consulting. Started by Huberty in 1981, the firm has offices in Ripon, Plymouth and Markesan, in addition to Fond du Lac, with a new location opening next month in Campbellsport. “As CPAs and consultants, we provide a broad range of financial services to business and individual clients from area communities,” Huberty said, noting his firm’s mission is to provide quality financial services on a timely basis and at reasonable rates. “Our real emphasis is on consulting and guiding small businesses.” Huberty says he believes in working closely with his clients throughout the year, not just at tax time. It’s what he credits for the growth of his company and the success of the business clients his staff assists. The passion Huberty has for his career can’t help but spread to others. “I’ve known Wayne for 25 years,” said Russ

Continued on Page 36.

Wayne Huberty stands proudly near the business sign at 145 S. Marr St. Forbes magazine has named Huberty & Associates “one of the most reliable CPA firms in the Midwest.”

To what do you owe your measure of success? “I believe success is achieved by surrounding yourself with competent professionals and by providing tools and guidance to let them perform.




Continued from Page 35. Kamphuis, president of the Oakfield State Bank who works closely with Huberty when assessing loans for banking clients and also serves with him on the Fond du Lac Noon Rotary Club board.

Simplify Finances Today

He loves what he does “Wayne loves what he does and provides not only accounting services but explanations of what the numbers are saying to his clients,” Kamphuis said. “We’ve seen 42 percent growth in the last three years,” Huberty said. “In this economy and with being a nearly 30-year old business, that says good things. Rapid growth was the basis for the firm landing on the national INC magazine’s prestigious 5000 list – an honor that lists Huberty & Associates S.C. among the fastest growing private firms in America. Huberty received the honor this fall on the heels of earning the honor in 2009 as well. Their growth in the sluggish economy makes the award even sweeter. “To have that kind of growth in this economy says we must be doing things right. It’s the reason we’ve earned ranking on INC and Forbes Magazine too,” Huberty said. “We believe in hands-on services, working more closely than ever with our clients. In this economy we’ve kicked that up a notch to guide them through rough times.” “Wayne and his associates are extremely dedicated to the well-being of their clients,” Kamphuis said.


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Success 2010

poetry in motion

Local orthodontist cut his teeth on sport he loved Doug Whiteley

The Reporter |

Way ahead of his time and poetry in motion. That is the way a friend and former teammate could best describe Jay Schauer and his abilities on a basketball court. Ken Stuessi played against Schauer in grade school and then played with him on the South Milwaukee High School varsity team as part of a 40-game winning streak the Rockets put together over the course of two seasons. “I scrimmaged with him and against him for a number of years,” said Stuessi, who has settled a golf-cart ride away from the Schauers at their winter home at The Villages in Florida. “He was very difficult to stop. He had moves to the left and to the right. “Being 6-6 he had all the natural ingredients that most of us never have. He was just one of those natural athletes who comes along every once in a while — rebounding, jump shots, hook shots, a great defensive player.” For his play at South Milwaukee where he helped his team to a state championship as a sophomore in 1952, and later at Marquette University, Schauer, a retired orthodontist who has lived in Fond du Lac for 39 years, was inducted Oct. 2 into the Wisconsin Basketball Association Coaches Hall of Fame.

Dr. Jay; not Dr. J Schauer still holds both the single-game record and tournament record for rebounds in a state tournament. He had 26 boards in one game during his team’s championship run, and he collected 56 for the three-game state appearance.

Continued on Page 38. Marquette’s Jay Schauer (41) shoots a jump shot over a St. Norbert College defender during the 1955-56 season.

Marquette University photo

Schauer was Dr. Jay before the other Dr. J had his first Afro.




Continued from Page 37.

Beloit before making it to State.

He could do it all. Stuessi remembers one weekend of their senior season in which Schauer scored 52 points on Friday and then followed it up the next night with 56. One of those opponents was West Allis Hale, which was led by legendary coach Clyde Rusk, who went on to coach for more than 40 years at Milwaukee Washington and Milwaukee South Division.

For his career, Schauer scored a total of 1,545 points, 549 as a senior, according to the Journal Sentinel story. In addition to being named AllState for three seasons, Schauer was also selected by Basketball Magazine as a first-team All-America player. After his senior season he played in the North-South All-Star game in Kentucky, a precursor to today’s McDonald’s All-America Game.

“He was scoring 50 points a game in those days,” Rusk told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel for a 2005 feature story that included Schauer in a list of the best high school players ever to take the court in the state of Wisconsin. “He just dominated the game, and he was so smooth. Of all the players I coached against in the Milwaukee area, I’d have to put him right at the top.”

Growing up Schauer said he started to play ball in the third grade for St. John’s School. His healthy obsession really took off in his sixth-grade year when his father and brother Jim converted their victory garden into a court with two hoops. The court wasn’t quite regulation size — perfect for four-on-four — but it didn’t matter to the boys. There was always someone shooting or playing. They’d shovel it off in the winter, and play as long as they could in the summer. Marquette’s Jay Schauer (41) shoots a jump shot during the 1955-56 season.

Marquette University photo

Name: Jay Schauer Age: 74 Occupation: Retired orthodontist Years in Fond du Lac: 39 Hometown: South Milwaukee

Schools: 1954 South Milwaukee High School graduate; 1961 Marquette University graduate


Basketball honors: Inducted Oct. 2 into Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame as a player; named first team All-American by Basketball Magazine as a high school senior; AllState and All-Conference To what do you owe your measure of success? “I guess it was just desire … I think the key was my brother and his friends. He was eight years older, and there were quite a number of other kids my age to play basketball with … Basketball was just about everything. It was just desire, and I practiced all the time.”

“There was something going on every weekend,” Schauer said. Stuessi said he would dribble his way from his home on the south outskirts across town to Schauer’s house on Lake Drive to get in on the action. “There were players coming in from Marquette and other schools,” Stuessi said. “There’d be a couple hundred people there watching on a summer night. We played a lot of buckets. It was great what his mom and dad did with that court.” It paid off for Schauer, who played as an eighth-grader on the sophomore team for a game until the coaches questioned if that would make his eligibility expire before his senior season. The next year he played as a freshman on the varsity, and then started as a sophomore on the ’52 championship team that went 27-1.

Great ’52 team Schauer was quick to point out that the ’52 team had five players who went on to play in college, including Rollie Blanchett, who went to Wisconsin, and Harold Swanson, who went to Minnesota. Schauer’s Rockets teams never made it back to State. As a junior, Schauer fouled out on a controversial charging call with about 5 minutes to go in a sectional game at Racine Horlick. The S.M. coaches made their strong appeal to the refs to no avail, and the Rockets were eliminated. As seniors, the Rockets and Schauer lost in

“I wasn’t a gunner,” Schauer said, remembering the points as just part of his game. “I wasn’t a hungo. I just worked hard and made the opportunities happen.”

108-point outburst Stuessi agreed and said the 108-point twogame stretch was by design of the players who knew their opponents couldn’t stop Schauer inside. They told him before the game they were going to work the ball to him inside. Stuessi recalls that Schauer didn’t want to give people the idea that he was a score-first star. “He came up to me after that Saturday game and said, ‘You can shoot next week. I’m done.’ He was a total team player.” Like most high school buddies, Schauer and Stuessi reminisce, but Stuessi said his pal is reluctant to give himself too much of the credit. “Even to this day, I’ll talk to him once in a while about all the good things that happened and all the teammates and he doesn’t react to it,” Stuessi said. “He is very humble.”

MU Of course his scoring and rebounding numbers attracted all of the biggest basketball colleges. Schauer said he got recruiting letters from about 30 schools and took trips to Michigan, Notre Dame and St. Louis. Stuessi said he remembers games as a junior and senior when there were scouts on hand with jackets from all over the nation: Wisconsin, Louisville, UCLA, St. John’s and Kentucky. Ultimately he chose Marquette mostly because it was only about a 20-minute drive from home. “I liked home and I liked doing a lot of things at home like changing my oil and working with my dad,” Schauer said. “I had a dog that I liked. I guess I wasn’t ready to get out on my own. It all worked fine because I found a Marquette girl (Mrs. Kathleen Schauer) who I’ve been with for 52 years.” Freshmen were not eligible to play with the varsity at the time, so Schauer spent his first season on the freshman team. The MU yearbook called him a “key defenseman” after his freshman year, but he did a good deal of scoring, too, totaling 211 points in his first collegiate season.

South Milwaukee’s loss;

Memorable game

Home sweet home at the foot of the lake

One of Schauer’s most vivid memories of playing for MU was a DePaul Invitational game in which he played against a San Francisco team that featured both Bill Russell and K.C. Jones. Both went on to be legends for the Boston Celtics.

Doug Whiteley

“One of the good memories I have is we played overtime against San Francisco,” Schauer said. “K.C. Jones was just like Jordan in those days. I was going in all alone for a layup, and he took off from the free-throw line to block it.”

The Reporter |

He went on to play ball downtown at Marquette University, where Schauer got his degree in dentistry in 1961 and he and his future wife Kathleen met. The couple moved to Hawaii for three years when the Army stationed him as part of the Army Dental Corps. When the Schauers moved back to the mainland, they returned to South Milwaukee, but Jay found it difficult working where so many people knew his name. In a town with a population in the low twenty-thousands there is familiarity. Everyone seems to know everyone — or at least they know someone related to you. The humble Schauer wasn’t so comfortable being a sports hero, even though he was just that to Rocket fans. While he didn’t want to be unkind, he was ready to move on in his career and with his family. “I loved general dentistry, but everybody would come into the office and say, ‘Hi, Jay, how are ya?’ this and that,” he said. “I didn’t have the heart to charge what I should charge for my services.” So, he went back to school. Schauer played some ball while in orthodontics school at Loyola of Chicago, but said he realized that an injury could put him out of work quickly. Schauer was looking for a good place to practice and said two friends from his dental school class urged him to take a look at the Fond du Lac area. In 1971 the Schauers packed up two UHauls and a trailer and made Fond du Lac their home. Of course, just like at his house as a boy, Jay put in a court with two baskets at their Cottage Avenue home. He said all sorts of kids would

Schauer scored 19 points that game in a 65-58 loss. The Warriors lost to Seton Hall in the NIT at Madison Square Garden that season and finished 13-11. That game marked the end of Schauer’s competitive career. Dr. Jay Schauer and his wife, Kathleen Schauer are featured in this photo.

Submitted photo show up to play, but really he put up the court for two reasons: to give his seven children a place to practice the game he loved, but also a place where he and Kathleen could keep an eye and ear on them. “He was always involved with all of their activities,” Kathleen said about her husband. “If there was a game he couldn’t attend, he’d always pick them up. He was a good father, always involved and that’s maybe why they’ve turned out to be responsible citizens.” Kathleen said there were occasions when Jay would let the kids in on the kind of athlete he was, but she said they weren’t all that interested to hear those “back-in-my-day stories.” Kathleen, who graduated from MU as a teacher, took care of the family, and Jay set up his practice in the plaza on Peters Avenue. Schauer coached some of his kids’ youth teams and several of them showed promise, he said. “They could have been (good high school players),” Schauer said. “I wasn’t the parent that was on their case. I said, ‘Pick a spot and don’t quit. Stay with it. If you don’t want to play after the season, then you get a job.’ ” He said Fond du Lac proved to be a good place to raise his family, a place he felt they were safe and could build a good foundation. “When the kids were growing up, we lived off Johnson on Cottage Avenue,” Schauer said. “They could walk to St. Mary’s and you didn’t have to worry about crime or anything.”

Schauer said it was difficult to do as well as he wanted in his classes when basketball trips took him away from home on a weekly basis, so he decided not to return to the team as a junior. He said he contemplated playing professionally, and he had contract talks with Seattle. The money was slightly tempting, but Schauer had his mind on his future. “I said I’m going to do it for the long haul, and it was a good decision,” he said. Schauer’s basketball career was mostly over — other than playing pick-up games and semi-pro ball while in orthodontics school.

Retirement Schauer retired from his orthodontics practice in 1998. Although their kids are grown and scattered about now, Jay and Kathleen spend the cold months in Florida and half the year at their south side home in Fond du Lac. When in the Midwest, they visit their kids and their 17 grandchildren. With all those grandkids, there should be no shortage of games and activities for the Schauers to attend. Schauer has also gone to plenty of Orlando Magic games when at his winter home, which is about 20 minutes south of Ocala, Fla. “He still loves the game and watches it whenever he can,” Kathleen said about her husband, who stays in good shape by walking, working out and playing golf. Stuessi said in their retirement community there is a basketball game that he and Schauer have thought about joining. They’ve left it at that stage because even though their shots and competitive juices may be like they were in the 50s, they both know their bodies aren’t likely to cooperate. Poetry in motion can be tough to recapture, even for a Hall of Famer.

Jay Schauer loved being a dentist and loved his hometown of South Milwaukee, but after leading his Rockets basketball team to unprecedented success, including a state championship in 1952, he became sort of a celebrity in the city located about 20 minutes from downtown.


Fond du Lac’s gain


Schauer started for the Warriors the next season and accumulated 154 points. Center Terry Rand was the star for MU that season, but Schauer sparkled as well, scoring 29 points in a Sugar Bowl tournament against Utah.




Full Spectrum Studio owner Cory Baker and singer Nicole Kottke take a break from recording in the mixing room of the studio at 816 S. Main St., Fond du Lac.

divine intervention

Local recording studio built on a wing and a prayer Dorothy Bliskey

Special to The Reporter


The Reporter photo by Patrick Flood

Success 2010

Name: Cory Baker Age: 38 Occupation: Music producer/ instructor/recording engineer and owner of Full Spectrum Recording Studios Home community: Fond du Lac Cory Baker, owner of Full Spectrum Studio in Fond du Lac, operates the expansive control board during a recording session.

The Reporter photo by Patrick Flood

Promoted as a world-class, full-service recording studio, the drawing card is studio bling — topof-the-line guitars, amplifiers and other recording equipment, along with the ability to obtain high quality recordings at reasonable rates. Musicians have the option to use the studio’s glitzy guitars and other instruments to record their music, rather than lugging their own. Word of mouth and the Internet have accelerated business at Full Spectrum Studios. “We are on a caliber with some of the best recording studios in the country,” said owner Cory Baker, who is also a songwriter, guitar and harmonica instructor, producer and recording engineer. A team of others — piano and drum instructors, voice coaches and technical assistants — rally around Baker to help make the studio a hot spot for musical talent. While things are going well now, Baker’s life prior to starting the business was not. Married with two small children, he and his wife Wendy were struggling financially. “In the summer of 2007 I was broke,” Baker said.

“I had been teaching guitar lessons at home, and even though my wife had a job outside the home, we just weren’t making it. I had been employed as a welder and was contemplating getting back into factory work to make ends meet.”

Your reaction to being nominated for Success: “Awesome!” To what do you owe your measure of success? “Faithfulness and the grace of God.”

Baker recalls a summer night in 2007 that was the turning point. “We were having trouble paying our bills, and they turned the power and lights off on us, for a second time,” Baker recalled. “There we sat, huddled together with flashlights. We told the kids we were camping in the living room.”

Power of prayer Baker, who professes to a strong faith in God and a wonderful support network at his local church, Grace Reformed, began to pray. “As I prayed and talked to God about going back to factory work, the thought suddenly entered my mind that my dream had always been to build a recording studio,” Baker said, adding that so far he had done nothing to make that dream happen. “So I said to God, ‘If this is your will, then I’ll knock on the doors, but please open the doors for me,’” Baker recalled. The power of prayer and a litany of miracles followed. He knocked and the doors began to open. The first “miracle” occurred when Baker told

his wife and a friend about his prayer. The friend, a 64-year-old man Baker had known about a year and who had been taking guitar lessons from him, surprised Baker by telling him to draw up his plans. “The next day I showed the plans to him, and he said, ‘Let’s go to the bank. I’ll lend you the money.’” “Finding a good location quickly through local realtor Robin Calvey at Adashun Jones and Sara Oughton, the owner of the Plaza where my studio is located, was the next miracle,” Baker said. Next, he went to purchase remodeling supplies and discovered Stock Lumber was going out of business. The result was huge discounts for major remodeling needed to transform 2,000 square feet into two soundproof recording studios, a control room, isolation room, meeting rooms, a kitchen area, office area and more. “Getting all that renovation work done in seven

Continued on Page 42.

Full Spectrum Studios, a music recording studio that opened three years ago at 816 S. Main St., has become a near instant success, attracting musicians from states like California, Washington, Kentucky, Alabama — even Britain — who trek here to record their music.

Number of years in the community: 38




Continued from Page 41. weeks was a miracle,” Baker said, noting he is thankful for the help he got from his cousin, brother and friends from his church. Looking back, Baker says another miracle occurred about the time he was in dire straights fi-

nancially in 2007. He had performed with a band he was in at the time at a Christian concert near Wausau. Before the weekend ended, the concert organizer handed him $1,000 to help get back on his feet financially and make his dream of opening a recording studio come true. Others believed in him too, perhaps a stranger

or a higher power. “I went to pay my for building permit, only to be told it had already been paid,” Baker said. “There have been so many wonderful people along the way,” Baker said. “It’s all by the grace of God, a positive attitude and the kindness of others that I built this studio three years ago.”

Musicians flock to Full Spectrum from near and far Dorothy Bliskey

Special to The Reporter While a focus at Full Spectrum Recording Studios is to attract bands and other musical talent from around the country to record their music in Fond du Lac, the heart of the business is to groom promising young artists for professional musical careers. “When a young talent signs a contract with us, we go to work to help develop and promote them,” said Cory Baker, owner of Full Spectrum Studios. Baker and his team write song lyrics for the young artist, assist with assembling their background band, record and distribute their songs and run their marketing campaigns. Nicole Kottke, 17, a senior at Oakfield High School, is a person in whom Baker saw potential for a sustainable musical career. Nicole utilizes all of the services offered at Full Spectrum Studios.

“Nicole is an extremely talented singer,” Baker said, noting a video showcasing her talent is soon to be released. “She signed a development contract with us and that means we write her songs, she takes guitar lessons from me and gets vocal lessons at the studio from Paul Thompson, who is a well-known musician and teacher in the area. Through her contract, we handle all recording details and distribution, along with marketing and establishing a background band.”


Kottke began singing publicly at age 5 and has been wowing crowds ever since. She has taken center stage in performances at the Fond du Lac County Fair each summer for the past three years. During her teen years she has competed and won national competitions in Las Vegas and Indianapolis, with another one taking place this month. Her country singing mirrors that of her idol, Martina McBride. “I really look up to her,” Kottke said. “She is a very powerful singer. I’ve always sang her songs, and I try to sing with her style.” Kottke says her goal is to perform at that level, with plans to begin touring after graduation next summer.

Vocal artist Nicole Kottke, 17, a senior at Oakfield High School, utilizes many of the resources offered at Full Spectrum Studios. Kottke’s country singing reflects that of her idol, Martina McBride.

The Reporter photo by Patrick Flood Baker feels Kottke has a great chance to accomplish her goal. “If we see talent in a teenager, we offer a free consultation to meet with them and their parents,” Baker continued, adding that they record about three Karaoke-type songs in order to analyze their talent. “They can then spotlight the recordings on any social media site they choose. We are really looking to see if the young artist is capable of a musical career as a business, and we are here to help build their business plan. “It’s of benefit to them and their parents, because by high school graduation the artist knows at what level to pursue a musical career.” Full Spectrum Studios handles recording, mixing, mastering, editing and worldwide distribution for bands traveling from near and far to record their music. Members of a band from the state of Washington traveled nearly 2,000 miles last February to record their music with Baker, saying studio bling (equipment), a relaxed atmosphere and excellent sound quality were key. Some artists sign contracts to record with Baker’s Red Hall Records company that operates within the complex. Soulshine Publishing, the song-writing arm of the studios, is what gets songs published and registered.

Full Spectrum Studios — plural because there are two recording studios within the complex — consists of a small studio layout for solos or duets and a larger studio for bigger groups. Each studio consists of a control room staffed by a producer and engineer, along with an isolation room and a large room, which each produce different types of sounds. Baker — a talented musician, guitar and harmonica instructor and songwriter — credits consultations with high caliber, renowned recording executives nationwide for credible and reliable results with young artists. “We write the artists’ songs and run them past some of the best recording executives in the country — those who have worked with music greats like Michael Jackson, Patti LaBelle and Janis Joplin. We have them analyze our song lyrics and the final recording of the young artist. They give us valuable feedback by reviewing and advising us on song-writing (lyrics) and how we might help tweak the artist’s style, tone or delivery,” Baker said. “From all the business we’ve done, we must be doing something right.” NOTE: For more information, go to

Success 2010

highs & lows of a weather observer Fond du Lac’s Larry Mielke has been keeping a keen eye on local skies across five decades

Sharon Roznik

The Reporter |

Name: Larry Mielke

The Reporter photos by Justin Connaher Through changing weather — torrential rains and blinding snowstorms, tornadoes and 100-year floods — Larry Mielke is as steadfast as they come. While the rest of his Fond du Lac area neighbors watch the pouring rain from a cozy couch or sit before a blazing fire as a snowstorm reduces civilization to a standstill, Mielke is out there recording little pieces of atmospheric history. The unassuming Mielke, 53, of Fond du Lac, is one of 11,000 volunteers nationwide, and 68 across south-central and southeast Wisconsin who serve as official weather observers for the National Weather Service’s Cooperative Observer Program. Meteorologists at the NWS in Sullivan say these dedicated weather enthusiasts make up the nation’s only true weather and climate observing network of,

by and for the people. The data are an honest representative of where people live, work and play. Behind Mielke Cabinet Supply on South Seymour Street, in the apple orchard and affixed to garden gates, observers will find scientific gadgets: rain gauges and thermometers, instrument sensors and trails of wiring, metal tubes and measuring sticks —poised for that first drop of precipitation.

Always keeping track Mielke opens the doors to a cabinet on legs and reveals two mercury thermometers dedicated to recording daily high and low temperatures in the city. The sensors transfer the readings through an underground wire into a home office equipped with

Continued on Page 44.

Age: 53 Number of years in community: All his life Occupation: Owner of Mielke Cabinet Supply Reaction to being selected for a Success Section story: “The weather is always changing with seasons and trends. The longer I record the weather observations, this will help in long term forecasting and trends.” To what do you owe your measure of success? “I owe my measure of success to longlasting interest in weather.”

Larry Mielke of Fond du Lac explains the equipment he uses to measure weather as an official cooperative weather observer for the National Weather Service. Mielke has been volunteering his time since 1973.



Continued from Page 43.


a computer he uses to send in official weather reports, twice a day, to a secure website. “I really started all this before there were a lot of electronic devices,” Mielke says. In his collection of weather data are lined ledgers dating to 1973. Rows of penciled-in temperatures were recorded when he was still in high school. “I built my own weather shelter and purchased my own equipment. I’m sure my parents wondered what was going on with their son,” Mielke said. He still lives in the same house in which he grew up. He took over his father’s cabinetry business, located next door, while developing what appeared to be a natural affinity for climate data. Before long, he was calling in to television stations in Milwaukee and Green Bay to report the latest rainfall or record high temperature. Media came to depend on his faithful reporting. “I just took it upon myself because I had the numbers,” Mielke said. He got to know well-known “weathermen” of the day — from the past, Jim Ott and Paul Joseph from WTMJ in Milwaukee; and from the present, Vince Condella from Fox 6 News, and Brad Spakowitz from WBAY in Green Bay. “When Paul Joseph retired, that was probably the last time I called into television,” he said. Rain and snow gauges are set up behind Larry Mielke’s large garden on South Seymour Street.

Faith in observers

The Reporter photos by Justin Connaher

Marcia Kronce, meteorologist at Sullivan, said NWS puts a lot of faith in their observers.

Cooperative Observer Program • The National Weather Service (NWS) Cooperative Observer Program (COOP) is the nation’s weather and climate observing network. • Nationally, more than 11,000 volunteers (about 68 across south-central and southeast Wisconsin) take observations on farms, in urban and suburban areas, national parks, along seashores and on mountaintops.

• A cooperative station is a site where observations are taken or other services rendered by volunteers or contractors. Observers are not required to take any tests.


• Data is transmitted via telephone, computer or mail. Equipment used at NWS cooperative stations may be owned by the NWS, the observer, or by a company or other government agency, as long as it meets NWS equipment standards. • Volunteer weather observers conscientiously contribute their time so that observations can provide the vital information needed. These data are invaluable in learning more about the floods, droughts, heat and cold waves affecting us all. • The data are also used in agricultural planning and assessment, engineering, environmental-impact assessment, utilities planning and litigation. COOP data plays a critical role in efforts to recognize and evaluate the extent of human impacts on climate from local to global scales. Source National Weather Service

“Every single day of the year, around 7 a.m., we can count on them to let us know what they observe with their equipment,” she said. The data are invaluable in learning more about floods, droughts, heat and cold waves, she said. It is also used in agricultural planning and assessment, engineering, environmental-impact assessment, utilities planning and litigation. The co-op stations supply the official records FEMA uses when cities or counties experience a natural disaster. These records help determine whether an area qualifies for disaster assistance. There are 10 cooperative weather observation stations set up in Fond du Lac County, including locations at the Fond du Lac County Airport, City of Fond du Lac Wastewater Treatment Center, Lake Winnebago, St. Peter in the town of Taycheedah, Waupun at the Rock River, the Campbellsport-Ashford area and Ripon. Data acquisition program manager/meteorologist Rudy Schaar is in charge of cooperative observer recruitment and organization of the local program. His job is to set up volunteers like Mielke with the equipment they need, and visit them all once a year. NWS updated Mielke’s equipment in 1983,

“I wish I had a hundred Mielkes. He’s great and does a great job,” Schaar said.

“That human element is worth a lot. When you think of it, taxpayers really get a lot of bang for their buck because of these dedicated people. We have automated observation sites, but it doesn’t give us the same kind of information we get from real people,” Schaar said.

Weather bug bites again

Most memorable moment

The Reporter |

John Abler of St. Peter, one of 11,000 cooperative weather observers in Wisconsin, checks out the weather station set up in his backyard.

The Reporter photo by Justin Connaher

No matter if the sun bakes overhead or the biting north wind blows, Abler faithfully serves as one of the county’s 10 cooperative weather observers for the National Weather Service. The full-time Fond du Lac County Sheriff’s deputy caught the weather bug from his friend Larry Mielke of Fond du Lac. As if observing and recording weather isn’t geeky enough, the two met in, and are still members of, a GMRS radio association. These days, the obscure general mobile radio service club boasts about six members. “Actually, I was interested in weather long before I met Mielke. He just got me more interested,” Abler said. In 1977 he was working part time for Fond du Lac County as a radio dispatcher when he was first given access to a direct, live line to the National Weather Service in Milwaukee. Changing weather patterns and their impact on daily life prompted Abler to purchase his own mini-weather station, which he set up in the backyard. His new Davis amateur equipment could record high and low temperatures and wind speeds. “I don’t know how to explain it. I just had a curiosity,” Abler said of his forays into forecasting. About five years ago he took the leap and had Mielke hook him up with Darrin Hansing, Rudy Schaar and Rusty Kapela, longtime meteorologists with the NWS in Sullivan. “They were the guys who had a hand in

things. Some fellas came out to look at what I had set up in my yard, gave me some more weather instruments and I was in business,” he said. Now Abler checks in with headquarters every morning between 6 and 8 a.m. to report temperatures and precipitation in the northwest portion of the county. Where he lives, the most lively atmospheric antics usually come from high winds. A few years back he recorded wind gusts of 70 miles per hour. “It was November, and it wasn’t associated with a storm. A big low pressure center was moving through the area,” Abler says with authority. In June 2008, when widespread flooding hit the area, Abler was out measuring rainfall and reporting it in intervals throughout the day. “If it’s something big, like a major snowstorm or heavy rain, the weather service wants updates throughout the duration of the event. People want to be kept informed about what’s going on,” he said. Abler’s fascination with the earth’s atmosphere has only increased over time. Though weather prediction is a science, there’s always the element of surprise. “Right now we are going through a warming cycle. I don’t believe in the global warming myth. Weather patterns change all the time,” he said. Abler, 57, said he has no plans to retire anytime soon. And he’ll continue to keep his eyes on the sky. “I’ll keep doing it as long as I’m able,” he said.

Monitoring weather the night of the Oakfield tornado in 1996, Mielke said he heard about its imminent arrival on the police scanner and went to a second-story window to scan the night. “I saw it coming, I saw the funnel. I think that’s probably the most memorable weather experience I’ve had,” he said. He recalls the hottest summer happening sometime around 1985 or 86, when 90-degree days (even a couple 100-degree days) became common. He said the climate cycle is trending toward warmer temperatures right now, but he wouldn’t be surprised if this winter brought below normal temperatures to Fond du Lac, and maybe record snow. After all these years, Mielke still finds weather fascinating. “They are still trying to figure out how the sun impacts our weather. Everything does. Think if we had a major volcanic eruption. The ash would cool down temperatures across the country,” he said. When not working at his cabinet business or reading the weather, Mielke is traveling between Madison and Fond du Lac to be with his wife. Two years ago he married Jill, who works in the lab at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Veterinary School of Medicine. “It was kind of a blind date,” he said. “Things worked out.” Mielke is already champing at the bit to reach the next horizon. He recently received his ham radio license and has signed up to become an official storm watcher. “I’m already watching the weather, so I might as well,” he said. For more information on the National Weather Service Cooperative Observer Program is available Check out Fond du Lac County’s weather observations at hp?site=MKX&product=HYD&issuedby=MKX.

Sharon Roznik

On a blustery hill overlooking St. Peter, John Abler is busy measuring wind velocity and snowfall.


The NWS tries to enlist one cooperative observer for every 25 square miles, but it’s not always possible. Right now there is a desperate need for volunteers in Green Lake and Marquette counties.


when he became an official weather observer.




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leaving a lasting impression

Bill Casper, a lifelong resident of the town of Taycheedah, stands near the shore of Fisherman’s Road boat launch and harbor on the East Shore of Lake Winnebago. Casper was instrumental in building Fisherman’s Road and developing the boat launch site and parking area.

Ledge preservation is latest of many ‘hobbies’ for local jack-of-all-trades Bill Casper

Harley Buchholz

Special to The Reporter

Age: 79 Home community: Lifelong resident of town of Taycheedah Occupation: Retired after 37 years at Giddings & Lewis. Inventor, volunteer with Friends of the Ledge and Sturgeon for Tomorrow, which he founded. Reaction to being nominated for inclusion in Success section? “I’m humble. I’m pleased that some people think enough of what I’ve done with my life to include me.” To what do you attribute your measure of success? “The people around me. My parents. My wife, Kathy (they’ve been married for 54 years), and kids, Sharon, Mike (also known as ‘Silk’), Barb and Nick. They went along with me and they always supported me.”

“We will be known by the tracks we leave.” It’s an Indian saying that William P. “Bill” Casper likes to refer to. Not for his own tracks, which have been substantial over the years, but for those landowners he’s hoping will allow preservation of their land along the Niagara Escarpment, land that reflects the Ledge’s strong Native American heritage. Casper has long been a collector of Indian artifacts and proponent of Ledge preservation. His collection, mostly found during hikes along the Ledge and on his dad’s lakeshore farm, has been displayed at the Malone Area Heritage Museum. Ultimately, he hopes the artifacts can be displayed “in a suitable Ledge nature center because that’s where they were found.”

Ledge preservation Since this is the “Year of the Niagara Escarpment” in Wisconsin, he joined the Friends of the Ledge movement. He accompanied Dwight Weiser, another Ledge devotee, and others on a trek that led to the discovery of an altar stone. “We want to properly preserve what we’ve got and I’m part of that,” he said. “There’s an Indian proverb: ‘We will be known by the tracks we leave.’ I’m not interested in telling my story so much. Just think about the Ledge. How many of them left their tracks....

Continued on Page 48.

Name: William P. “Bill” Casper



No end to interests But Casper has a wide variety of other interests:


• He’s an inventor. While working at Giddings & Lewis, where he retired as a foreman after 37 years, he patented a device to check belt tension. A suggestion to E.C. Kiekhaefer for a snowmobile improvement led to one of the Mercury Marine leader’s many patents. When Casper retired, he patented a device called “Light a Tree” for hanging Christmas lighting. A Colorado company bought rights to it and sells it. Later came “Measure Up,” a tool to measure and record children’s growth. He’s still trying to market that one, noting he could use some help. “It’s easy to invent but not easy to market it,” he said. Bill Casper points out a significant location on the Ledge near his town of Taycheedah home. He noted that he has lived all his life on land between the Ledge and Lake Winnebago. This year has been designated as the “Year of the Niagara Escarpment,” the formal name of the Ledge.

The Reporter photo by Justin Connaher Continued from Page 57.

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“I don’t know how long Fisherman’s Road (Harbor) will last, how long the town hall will last (both

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The rest has become part of the sturgeon lore of Wisconsin. The worry translated to action and Sturgeon for Tomorrow was formed. The organization founded by Casper has developed into five chapters in Wisconsin and now one in Michigan — and with the full support of a once-skeptical Department of Natural Resources.

Bill Casper and Kathy, his wife of 54 years, share many interests. On the table in front of them are Indian artifacts found near their home, and sturgeon-related volumes. Bill is featured in the newly published book, “People of the Sturgeon,” which is displayed on the table.

Harley Buchholz photo for The Reporter he developed Mill Stream Trout Farm and still raises rainbows in a pond beside his home.

“The trout farm got to work so I thought of building a golf course,” he said. The par 3 Thornbrook Golf Course and driving range resulted. “Kathy and I started to build it,” he said, and their daughter, Barb, returned home from the Air Force and ran it. “It was really fun,” Casper said. “I designed and built it myself and put in every bit of irrigation. I built the clubhouse, the pumphouse.” He sold the course 11 years ago but it still operates with new ownership.

Casper also chaired the County Board committee that oversaw development of Rolling Meadows Golf Course. He fought other county officials to have the former dairy and hog barn on the site converted to the clubhouse and meeting area that it is today. Some had wanted to raze it. He’s been battling prostate cancer for 20 years and controls it with medication.

He’s cut back on some of his activities to devote time to the Ledge and of course, to Sturgeon for Tomorrow, the hugely successful sturgeon propagation organization that he founded. But that’s another story.

In the 1970s, Casper said, the DNR had increased the legal size for sturgeon and was considering increasing it more. He was concerned fishermen would no longer be able to hunt the ancient fish. “I had bulletins printed up ... called a meeting with some DNR specialist and they were against it (efforts to raise sturgeon domestically). But I wound up with five people helping. We got an article in (The Reporter). “My uncle, a retired priest, Father Henry Langenfeld, said, ‘Bill, you’re trying to raise sturgeon for tomorrow.’ That’s how it was named.”

Fundraising arm Over the years, the organization has raised some $750,000 for a now very supportive DNR for sturgeon propagation. It took Casper and a Dartmouth College professor, Bill Ballard, to convince DNR officials. Ballard had been to Russia to study sturgeon raising and was unaware that the fish lived in Wisconsin waters until Casper contacted him. “I said we want to learn how to raise sturgeon,” Casper said. “By that time we had a board of directors and Bob Blanck of Johnsburg financed his (Ballard’s) trip to Wisconsin. He met with the DNR here and convinced them that it’s possible to raise sturgeon.” Sturgeon for Tomorrow has built spawning sites, worked with communities to help their propagation efforts, helped educate state residents about the fish and has 400 volunteers who patrol rivers in the Winnebago System in the spring to prevent illegal taking of the fish. “It’s the best organization in the world right now,” Casper said. “It’s been an absolute success. They (DNR) increased the harvest cap again this year. It went up last year because of the number of sturgeon in the lake. People are coming here to learn how to raise sturgeon. “I would like to see where a food pantry gets set up where people could take their fish. Not ev-

erybody likes to eat sturgeon. There’s a lot of fish going to waste now,” Casper noted. Sturgeon, he said, can be grilled, canned, smoked. “Maybe I should write a recipe book,” he chuckled. He’s already part of a book, “People of the Sturgeon,” for which he was a volunteer interviewer. He also is featured in a portion of the book for his role in founding Sturgeon for Tomorrow. In photo and text, the book covers the history of the fish, its Indian lore, its propagation and the tales of many of Lake Winnebago’s longtime spearers.

Robert Kennedy Jr. Casper’s involvement in Sturgeon for Tomorrow has led to a number of accolades, including a story in Sports Illustrated that led to a meeting with and presentation of a mounted sturgeon to Robert Kennedy Jr. He wanted a fish for a museum he was stocking. “He called and I didn’t believe him,” Mrs. Casper said. “The fish hung at Blanck’s in Johnsburg,” Casper recounted, and he convinced the owner to give it up. “Kathy and I took it to New York,” he said, and ended up carving pumpkins with Kennedy on his front lawn. Later, they were guests at a brunch and met actress Glenn Close. “When I think of the people I’ve met...,” Casper said. In 1998, during Wisconsin’s Sesquicentennial celebration, he was interviewed by Willard Scott on the Mall in Washington, D.C. Casper and his well-known Green Bay Packers football helmet fishing shanty were among 50 exhibits invited to the Nation’s Capital by the Smithsonian Institution to demonstrate state attractions. Now, the Smithsonian wants the shanty and some of its contents for permanent display.

It’s an honor he shares with the likes of Jimmy Carter and Aldo Leopold.

“In 1977, being a sturgeon fisherman and all, I was out in my shanty and not seeing a fish,” recalled William P. “Bill” Casper, “and I began worrying about the future of sturgeon.”


Harley Buchholz


On a long list of accomplishments, Casper’s enduring legacy is Sturgeon for Tomorrow

“Pretty nice company for a farm boy from Wisconsin,” Casper said.


Prestigious award Casper’s not sure he’s ready to give up spearing just yet, but said he eventually will comply. To cap his work with sturgeon propagation, in 1999 he won the Outdoor Life magazine conservation award for individual achievement.



living in the past

Passion for history inspires Waupun library director in Civil War pursuits Colleen Kottke

The Reporter | ABOVE: Waupun Library Director Bret Jaeger shows off the Teen Zone in the library, a section designed with teens in mind. The Reporter photo by Justin Connaher LEFT: Dressed in the historically accurate garb of a Civil War soldier from Company A of the 2nd Wisconsin Infantry, Bret Jaeger stands at attention at the gravesite of Civil War soldiers during a monument dedication ceremony in May at Forest Mound Cemetery in Waupun. The Reporter photo by Patrick Flood

Through the years, Bret Jaeger has followed his passion for history — and the footsteps of his ancestors — onto the battlefield.


As a member of the Citizens Guard based out of Fox Lake, Jaeger portrays a Civil War soldier from Company A of the 2nd Wisconsin infantry — one of the five regiments forming the famed Iron Brigade. As a re-enactor, the Waupun Library director prefers to sidestep the battle recreations and instead focus on living history, which allows the public to walk through historically accurate camps and observe soldiers as they perform marches and firing drills. The Dodge County native grew up in an area where scores of men rushed to join the 2nd Wisconsin Infantry. Jaeger learned later that his own great-great grandfather served in the 26th Wiscon-

sin, an all-German regiment, during the Civil War. “I began reading and gathering details about the regiment and realized had I been born in the 1840s in Dodge County, I would have ended up in Company A that formed in Fox Lake,” said Jaeger. “Knowing that, you suddenly feel almost connected.” Jaeger’s love of history and dedication to preserving the past has taken him to national battlefields where hundreds of thousands of men gave their lives.

Passion stirred As a young child, Jaeger’s interest in history was stirred when his grandfather related the fact that he had once served on a ship during World War I. Unfortunately for Jaeger, his grandfather

Success 2010

Expansion brings Waupun Library into 21st Century Colleen Kottke

The Reporter Bret Jaeger has a genuine affection for the past. The history buff had no intention, however, of letting the Waupun Public Library linger there. When he arrived in Waupun in 1997, Jaeger was offered the position of library director. “They had just broken ground for a new addition,” he said. Under his administration, Jaeger was determined to bring the facility up-to-speed technology-wise.

Following the second major remodeling/expansion project under Jaeger, the library has undergone not only a physical transformation, but a technological one as well. “We’ve tripled the speed of the computers from what we had 10 years ago,” Jaeger said. The new, airy inviting interior of the library has also boosted walk-in traffic at the library located next to the state’s oldest prison. “We’re up 7.2 percent in library usage over last year, which was a record-setting year,” Jaeger said. Jaeger and his staff enjoy interacting with patrons and pride themselves on helping them find exactly what they’re looking for. “The best thing about this job is making a difference for people; whether it’s helping a veteran track down information about the ships he sailed on during his service, or helping kids through the steps of locating what they need to get their homework done,” Jaeger said. The once dim interior of the library is now illuminated in natural light due to a wall of windows on the second story of the southwest side. “During the winter months, you can always find folks up here basking in the sunlight,” he said. “There’s not a lot of gathering places in Waupun. The library is more inviting than ever, and more and more people are seeking it out.”

Waupun Library Director Bret Jaeger searches for information for a library patron. Since the remodeling/ expansion project, the library has experienced an uptick in customer traffic.

The Reporter photo by Justin Connaher

died before he could appreciate his grandfather’s role in history. “He died before I actually got to talk to him about what he did,” Jaeger said. As his appetite for the past grew, Jaeger would find himself longing to have conversations with other relatives who found themselves immersed in important historical events in U.S. history. After majoring in history at Ripon College, Jaeger headed West to Colorado where he earned a master’s degree in American history after penning his thesis about the experiences of his great uncle, Harry McGrury. “Talk about a person I’d want to talk to! If there was an era in history I would like to visit, it would be in the 1920s when my uncle helped build the Moffat Tunnel under the Rocky Mountains when railroading in this country was huge,” Jaeger said. “Unfortunately, he was killed at the age of 27 while he was working in a tunnel in Connecticut and a charge went off.” Although he is surrounded by thousands of books in the Waupun Public Library, Jaeger prefers to read the diaries and journals of peo-

Continued on Page 52.

Name: Bret Jaeger Age: 47 Hometown: Old Ashippun, Wis. Family: Wife, Bernada; children, Vanessa and Dennis Education: Oconomowoc High School (’80), Ripon College (Bachelor of Arts, ’84), University of Denver (Master of Arts, ’88), University of Wisconsin-Madison (Master of Arts, ’89). Employment: Library director of the Meeker Regional Library District, Meeker, Colo., 1990 – 1997; library director, Waupun Public Library, 1997 to present. Reaction to being nominated for a Success section story: “I was truly surprised. Then I felt honored because I must be doing something good for the community if I was noticed.” To what do you owe your measure of success? “My success rests with the Library Board and the staff. If it wasn’t for the vision and support of the Library Board, or the dedication of the staff, Waupun residents would not have the facility they have today.”

“I had come from a smaller library in Colorado, and in terms of technology, they were so much further ahead,” he said. “Any good library has to stay current with technology or users will complain or stop coming.”



Continued from Page 51.

weather the last couple of days.’

ple from the past.

“What? That’s all he wrote? It nearly drove me nuts,” Jaeger said with a laugh. “If only my grandfather and his brothers were alive. Oh, the questions I would ask.”


“Those are real people writing about real events,” he said. “It doesn’t get much better than that.” A few years ago, Jaeger’s mother gave him the journals kept by his great-uncle Lester, who served in the Navy during World War II. A man of few words, Lester worked in the commissary on an aircraft carrier in the Pacific under the direction of Admiral William Halsey Jr.

By visiting area classrooms and national parks, Jaeger gives adults and children the opportunity to talk to history buffs who have immersed themselves in the cultures and customs of the past. Dave Imhoff, a middle school teacher whose classroom Jaeger has visited often in his Civil War regalia, said Jaeger’s enthusiasm is infectious. “He draws the kids into the time period and

Decked out in his blue Union Army uniform, carrying a reproduction musket with an authentic Civil War bayonet attached, Jaeger enjoys his trek into the past almost as much as the kids he interacts with, Imhoff said. “His positive feelings about the study of history are contagious. It was almost like having Old World Wisconsin come to our school for a day,” Imhoff said.


“He was onboard the ship when Halsey directed the fleet to sail right into the middle of a typhoon. In his journal he wrote, ‘Had a little bit of

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Success Name: Josh Emanuel Age: 28 Home community: Fond du Lac Number of years in community: Lifelong

Occupation: Certified gemologist appraiser


Reaction to being nominated for a Success section story: “I felt honored.” To what do you owe your measure of success: “My father for all of his support, his knowledge in our industry and for pointing me in the right direction.”

gem of a profession Fond du Lac jeweler continues long family tradition Karla Kremer Breister Special To The Reporter

ABOVE: Josh Emanuel, left, and his father, Ron Emanuel, examine gems at their shop, the Goldsmith, at 177 S. Main St. Josh has earned the distinction of being a certified gemologist appraiser. He began working for his dad when he was in high school. RIGHT: Josh Emanuel uses a magnifier to inspect a diamond at the Goldsmith, where he works.

The Reporter photos by Justin Connaher


Perhaps even more rare than a perfect gem is finding someone certified to appraise it.


Josh Emanuel, of the Goldsmith, 177 S. Main St., recently became one of just seven certified gemologist appraisers in Wisconsin and of about 400 throughout the country. “My whole family has been in the jewelry business since I was a little kid,” he said. “Grandpa had a jewelry store, and my dad had a store, and I felt like I needed to be a part of it. It is a fun industry.” Emanuel started training with his father, Ron, while still in high school. He received his Jewelry Repair and Fabrication diploma in 2002 from Northeast Technical College in Green Bay and a small business ownership certification from Moraine Park Technical College in 2003. He obtained accreditation as a Jewelry Professional with the Gemological Institute of America in 2004. A year later, he moved to California to begin full-time training at the GIA. He earned his Graduate Gemologist degree in 2006 with students from all over the world. “I was in the minority,” he said. “I made a lot of nice friends and learned about different cultures. For example, in India, jewelry is a big part of the wedding ceremony. The bride is adorned from head to toe in solid jewels and gold — it is an amazing thing to see.”

Top jewelry title Last year, Emanuel was certified with the American Gem Society, and he earned the title of appraiser over the summer. “That means I’m certified by the American Gem Society to certify and appraise diamonds and gemstones,” he said. “It is the top title you can get in the jewelry industry.” At the Goldsmith, he manages the diamond grading and gem identification department, is a bench jeweler and a laser welder. “It is a unique business,” he said. “Nobody comes to us with a problem. Most everybody comes to us so we can make them happy.” Well, maybe not everyone.

He said there are many perks to working in the trade. “You get to see new trends before they come out, meet new people and travel around the country,” he said, noting that one visit was to a tourmaline mine. He also likes the way business is handled. “A ton of money can be moved around with just a handshake,” he said. “It is nice to see that is still around.”

The Goldsmith, 177 S. Main St., is a popular local spot for those interested in purchasing jewelry and gifts.

The Reporter photo by Justin Connaher Helping customers He especially likes working with his customers. “I like to pass on knowledge to customers to help them understand what they are purchasing and to make them more comfortable with the sale,” he said. “Wedding and engagement rings are up there with the most important purchases of a lifetime – up there with cars and houses.” When he isn’t working at the shop, Emanuel tries to give back to the Fond du Lac community. He is a lodge officer for the Elks Lodge, a member of the Masons and is involved with the Young Professionals of Fond du Lac.

Working at the Goldsmith means working closely with members of his family. He works for his father, and works cooperatively with his stepmother, sister and brother-in-law. “It can be complicated, but we work well together,” he said. “We have a nice, close family. There might be little things here or there, but it always works out. I wouldn’t want to work for anybody else.” His future plans include personal and business development. “I want to continue growing our customer base and working on my skills as a goldsmith and try to take the business to the next level,” he said.

“While still in school, I came back to visit for about a week, and it was right when everybody started selling gold,” he said. “Someone brought in a diamond engagement ring, and I noticed instantly that it was a certified diamond. My dad bought it and we were able to trace it. We discovered that it had been stolen. The ring was returned to its owner and someone got arrested.”



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Success 2010


a bright future Making an event happen is Cassandra Michler’s specialty — and passion Lee Marie Reinsch Special to The Reporter

You know how it feels to want something really, really badly — and then when you finally get it, it’s not quite what you thought it’d be? That’s kind of where Fond du Lac’s Cassandra Michler found herself a few months ago, after reaching her longtime goal of becoming a California fashion designer. “It was a nice accomplishment,” said Michler of the milestone fashion show last spring that showcased her clothing line, called Madcute, alongside new lines by of the Black Eyed Peas and other established designers. But probably more importantly, it opened her eyes to the realization that she didn’t want to be a fashion designer after all. Her real passion is in orchestrating the show. So Michler has moved on to her next big goal: her own events-planning and celebrity public-relations business called 89 Productions.

Fashion Institute In fall of 2008, she moved to Los Angeles to attend the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising. She worked alongside designer Badgley Mischka on a fashion show for a Lifetime Television reality program called “Blush: The Search for the Next Great Makeup Artist.” She assisted with QVC’s gifting suite at the Acad-

Continued on Page 58.

Cassandra “Cassie” Michler, a 2008 graduate of Fond du Lac High School, is making a name for herself in Los Angeles in the fields of fashion designing, events-planning and celebrity public relations. This photo was taken in mid-October by a friend/photographer in L.A.

John Sanossian photo

Michler has accomplished a lot in the two short years since graduating from Fond du Lac High School.




Continued from Page 57. emy Awards, where she rubbed shoulders with Denise Richards and met Paris Hilton’s family. She coordinated a fashion show for eveningdress designer Sue Wong for the “Sex and the City 2” premiere party at Ecco Ultra Lounge in Hollywood. And while working three internships, she managed to complete an associate of arts degree in visual communications. Michler is the daughter of Jack and Cheryl Michler of Fond du Lac. Her grandparents are Paul and Virginia Michler and Robert and Gloria Venne, all of Fond du Lac. “If you would have asked me what I wanted to do five years ago, I would have said, ‘Be a fashion designer,’” Michler said.

Valuable life lesson But now just old enough to go out for a glass of wine (she turned 21 this month), Michler has already learned what many people don’t figure out until midlife, if ever: Life’s too short to be stuck in a career that’s not what you expected it to be. While working on the fashion show for “Lifetime,” Michler found herself wowed not by what people wore, but by the adrenaline rush of making the event happen. “The energy backstage was so amazing, and watching the event come together from start to finish was so exciting,” Michler said. Planning a large event, such as a fundraiser, corporate party, movie launch, fashion show or premiere party, involves organization, people skills, attention to detail and knowing whom to contract for services. Michler is a natural, say her friends.

Great with people “She’s got the right personality for it and the right mindset,” said Katie Fischer Maga, who has known Michler since second grade at Waters Elementary School. “When she sets her mind to something, she gets things done.” Friend David Litman said Michler is great with people.

“She went to L.A. and took everything by storm,” he said. “She didn’t have any connections, didn’t know anyone out there, but she met people and made connections.


Event-planning involves a lot of behind the scenes work — permits, security, setting up and taking down. “There’s a timeline literally from the day before the event until the day after, what needs to be done, when and where,” Michler said. The knack for slinging a figurative lasso around a concept and pulling the strings to make an event come together without unraveling began in Fond du Lac. Michler is known for throwing some awesome parties, including a pirate-themed party and a Halloween party featuring a DJ and fog machines.

Name: Cassandra Michler Age: 21 Occupation: Events planner and celebrity public relations consultant Hometown: Hollywood, Calif. Years in her current community: Two Years in the Fond du Lac community: 18 Reaction to being chosen for a Success section article: “It is such an honor to be chosen for this article because some days I have to sit back and ask myself, ‘Is this dream real?’ And the truth is, yes. “I have wanted this dream for so long and it just proves that anything is possible. If you fight for the life you want, you will get it. I never let anything get in the way of my dreams, and when there are complications throughout the journey, I embrace them; and that inspires me to work harder.” To whom or to what do you attribute your measure of success? “I believe that I am my own inspiration because if it wasn’t for my drive and dedication, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”

Cassandra Michler, left, formerly of Fond du Lac, and Candice Ethridge, formerly of New York, pause for a photo after a runway show for their MADCUTE fashion line. MADCUTE premiered in spring at the sixth annual Fashion Industry Association fashion show hosted by the University of Southern California.

Submitted photo

“I wouldn’t be able to do this without my friends and family as well. They have supported me every step of the way and I am so grateful to have such wonderful people in my life.”

“Her invitations were always coordinated, the decorations were amazing,” Fischer Maga said. “Nobody in our high school would have parties like that.”

Knack for parties Michler’s 16th birthday party involved a tent set up in the yard, five live bands and an official color scheme. “I like huge theme parties, so that is probably one of my inspirations,” Michler said. “I’ve always loved going over the top. I just love the excitement of planning different things; once I get inspired by one thing, I just run with it. You have to go over the top or you will never stand out.” Fischer Maga said she wasn’t surprised by her friend’s switch to event-planning. “It’s what she’s always been doing, it’s what she’s always loved to do, and it’s what she’s good at,” Fischer Maga said. “This is a really good career choice for her. She’s got the right personality for it. She’s doing what she loves, and she’s going to make a name for herself at what she’s always been doing.” Michler anticipates people’s needs before they happen, said her friend David Litman.

Cassandra Michler, third from right, a former Fond du Lac resident, is shown with business partner, Casey Sweeney, and five models of evening dresses by fashion designer Sue Wong. Michler recently coordinated a fashion show for Wong for the “Sex and the City 2” premiere party at Ecco Ultra Lounge in Hollywood.

Submitted photo

“She thinks about things in advance; she thinks past the first step,” said Litman, a senior at UWOshkosh majoring in international and global security. Whether it’s extra food because some guests could show up with friends, or putting a TV in the kitchen where people tend to congregate so they all can watch a tape of their graduation ceremony, Michler anticipates it, Litman said. “The little things that go wrong because you forgot something don’t go wrong when Cassie is planning the party,” Litman said.


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Daisy Frazier gives a voice to Fond du Lac’s African-American community

Joann Schrauth

Special to The Reporter

Daisy Frazier of Fond du Lac relishes a late fall afternoon in her yard on Morris Street. Frazier is active in a number of local organizations, including Ebony Vision and United for Diversity.

The Reporter photo by Justin Connaher “It’s a good time to be part of the Fond du Lac community. There are good things going on now,” Daisy Frazier says.

Ebony Vision and United for Diversity are just two of the “good things” that Frazier is working with to make the community a better place.


Ebony Vision is the result of a group of people who met in 2004 to discuss ways to support each other through advocacy and available resources in the community. Today, Frazier is the president of that group. “It basically started on the lips of a few AfricanAmericans here in the community,” Frazier said. The group fosters equality and fairness to ensure competitiveness and same rights, develop and strengthen partnerships to provide educational recourses and role models, strengthen social networks and educate the community about the African-American culture, she explained. William Greene, diversity relations associate at Moraine Park Technical College, admires Frazier’s

work and dedication.

Breakfast and Soul Food Dinner, among others.

“Despite her busy schedule, I admire her tireless efforts to give back to the community,” Greene said. “She continues to go the extra yard, the extra mile. She always shows up to get things done. I admire her for that.”

The Juneteenth Day Celebration commemorates the day, June 19, 1865, when slavery was ended in the United States — actually two years after President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.

Green says the work ethic derives from her parents.

It has become an annual day of celebration for African-Americans.

“She always seems positive, even through challenging times with Ebony Vision,” Greene said. “I haven’t ever been around a more positive person.”

“There was a need for African-Americans to have a voice in Fond du Lac, and Ebony Vision is that voice,” Frazier said. “We want to educate others about our culture, be a more visible part of the community as we volunteer and help our community grow. However, our main concern is unemployment and minority retention.”

Need better understanding “Some find it difficult to know and accept our culture,” Frazier said, but knowing the AfricanAmerican culture helps to achieve better understanding. “We want to be visible in the community. Part of our mission is to be out in the community.” Ebony members are involved in the community in numerous ways that involve volunteering, including the Winter Coat Program, Celebrate CommUNITY, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Prayer

Value of ‘inclusion’ She added, “(According to ) Diana Hammer Tscheschlok, community development educator at University of Wisconsin Extension — who has given a presentation on ‘Inclusion’ in Fond du Lac — states, schools and organizations need to start

One of the shared concerns of the two organizations in which Daisy is involved is minority retention. The Attracting Diverse Talent Steering Committee report from April 2010 reported the following findings:

• By nurturing an environment of inclusion, Fond du Lac County companies can recruit and retain the best talent available in the marketplace. “I moved here with my family 30 years ago from the south side of Chicago and I have seen the changes here in Fond du Lac and they have

been good,” Frazier said. “At first, change was very slow here, but now I see many individuals/ organizations doing what they can to make Fond du Lac a more welcoming place.” She added, “There are some wonderful people that are a part of this community. As we all continue to move forward in this positive way, we need to not lose our momentum. There is a lot to do. The bottom line is this: Diversity matters and it just makes sense.”


Frazier also serves on the board of United For Diversity, which, as its mission statement notes, promotes unity and understanding, and embracing and celebrating the differences among all people in the Fond du Lac community.

attracting and retaining the most talented of the incoming labor force, 70 percent of whom are women and minorities.


working together to make the area more inclusive of diverse, talented workers. Fifty percent of local workers will reach retirement age in the next 10 years. This study also shows that Fond du Lac may need 17,000 new workers by 2026.”

• As incongruous as it might seem during the current economic difficulty, labor availability in Fond du Lac County will change greatly in the not-too-distant future. In fact, indicators point to a near crisis. • The solutions to this issue are many. A cooperative group of organizations in Fond du Lac County is working to explore one possible answer: Expanding the local employment pool by becoming a more-inclusive community through

Name: Daisy Y. Frazier Age: 48 Home community: Fond du Lac Number of years in community: 30 Occupation: President of Ebony Vision; computer operations/help desk Reaction to being nominated for a Success section article: “I truly believe that every good thing comes from above and so I thank God for His blessings and the opportunity to be a part of this edition, along with many other wonderful people you have chosen in the Fond du Lac community.”

“Second are my parents; Wallene & Rufus Frazier. My father is the hardest working person I know and will ever meet. My mother is a people’s person; to know her is to love her, and most of the time I go by the name of “Rufus’s daughter” (Rufus is my mom). She has taught me that whatever you do, put God first. So I take Him with me everywhere I go.”

TOP: Daisy Frazier, president of Ebony Vision in Fond du Lac, poses at her home in front of a print featuring black women leaders. ABOVE: Daisy Frazier, a leader of diversity efforts in Fond du Lac, displays a poster of Sojourner Truth (1797-1883), an African-American abolitionist and women’s rights activist.

The Reporter photos by Justin Connaher

To what do you owe your measure of success: “First and foremost to God, because it’s not just about religion, it’s about having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. He died, so that I could be eternally free.




for the game green & gold Linus Doll of Fond du Lac sits at his kitchen table and teaches Green Bay Packers marketing manager Michelle Palubicki how to play a board game he built for the Packers team.

The Reporter photos by Patrick Flood

Longtime resident of FdL’s ‘Lowertown’ creates unique gift for his beloved Packers


One of Linus Doll’s game board creations now belongs to the Green Bay Packers, his hands-down favorite team for the past half-century. Doll, a Fond du Lac resident since he was 8 years old, wanted to do something special for “his team,” so he called the Packers organization, got someone on the phone and told the lady in marketing he had an idea they might be interested in. The offer intrigued Michelle Palubicki, marketing manager for the Packers. At Doll’s invitation, she drove to Fond du Lac to meet Doll and see what he had to offer.

She and fellow Packers employee Tanner Nussbaum, also of the marketing department, received a tutorial on the finer aspects of the game from Doll and his longtime friend Bob Bruni of Fond du Lac, both of whom rank as experts. “He just sounded so great, so sincere,” Palubicki said of Doll. “I just felt compelled to meet him.” She noted that the marketing department doesn’t make a habit of such visits. There was just something special about Linus Doll and his sincerity that convinced her it would be a trip worth

Michael Mentzer

The Reporter making.

The game itself By the way, there is no official name for the game. It’s known simply as “The Marble Game” or “Jack Switch.” Obviously, it’s played with marbles. There’s a deck of cards involved, including the Jokers. And Jacks have some special powers to influence the outcome. There are aspects of the game that bear some similarities to the board game Sorry. But there are

Success 2010

Linus Doll, far right, a carpenter for most of his adult life, fashioned a game board from Corian so that Packers players and staff could play “The Marble Game,” also known as “Jack Switch,” in style.

The Reporter photos by Patrick Flood

Doll chuckles at the thought of quarterback Aaron Rodgers and sackmaster Clay Matthews going head to head playing the game in the locker room on a specially designed board he made expressly for the Green and Gold. “I thought it would be a good game for the clubhouse or on the road,” Doll said. “It’s just something I wanted to do for the team.” The game board has been turned over to longtime Packers equipment manager Red Batty, who will make sure it’s available to players and staff in the locker room. “We plan to get some pictures of the players with the game and share them with Linus,” said Palubicki, adding that some team players and staff recognized the game as soon as they saw the game board.

Fan of the Pack “I’ve been a Packer fan since I was a kid,” Doll pointed out. “But I really became a fan when Vince took over.” Doll doesn’t bother to even add the Lombardi surname. For fans of Doll’s vintage, “Vince” is all that needs to be said. At age 84, Doll still hones the carpentry skills that fed his family and provided him with a career almost all of his adult life. “I’ve been picking slivers out of my fingers all my life,” said Doll, noting that he was employed for 29½ years at Fond du Lac Lumber Co. in millwork and cabinet making. He got his start as a carpenter building caskets at the casket company on Brooke Street before shipping out with the Navy in World War II. He served from June 1944 to May of 1946 before returning to his Fond du Lac neighborhood.

Canadian connection “It’s a great game — just a lot of fun,” Doll said of the board game he first learned more than 20 years ago from longtime friend Cliff Culver. Culver learned the game from Canadian friends

who wintered in the same Florida community he did.

“Well, look at ’em,” he said, with a grin. “That tells you all you need to know.”

Culver and his wife, Helen, brought it to Fond du Lac and taught their friends here, including Linus and his late wife, Ruth.

Doll is an eager storyteller, and recently he has tried his hand at a couple of columns on The Reporter’s Opinion Page. His stories have struck a chord with local readers. He promises to share more.

Before long, their friends and relatives learned it, and Doll eventually began making boards for the expanding circle of Jack Switch players. “I’ve made dozens,” said Doll, noting that some boards are “pretty basic,” and others are a bit more fancy. “I’ve come up with my own design,” he added. The Packers received one of Doll’s top-of-theline models, with flip sides to accommodate four or six players.

For the moment, he’s anxious to learn if the Packers enjoy the game he built for them. He’s admittedly proud and pleased that his gift to the team has found a place at hallowed Lambeau Field. “There’s just a feeling of real self-satisfaction,” Doll said. “I just wanted to do something for our team.”

Quality game board It’s made of Corian, a type of material prized for its durability and beauty. It’s a popular, high quality, expensive product used for kitchen and bathroom counter tops and in laboratories and hospitals. Doll can tell a listener in detail each aspect of the Jack Switch board he created for the Packers. It is intricately made, with each marble rest measured and fashioned with his drill press in the carpentry shop of his Mason Street home, which he built with his own hands in 1950. “I started on the house on my wife’s birthday on April 18th of 1950, and we moved in on the 18th of November,” he recalled. By the way, his house on Mason Street, just north of West Scott Street, lies within a short walk of the neighborhood homes in which he lived on Scott, Temperance and Washington streets.

Old First Ward His memories of the neighborhood in which he lived all his life also are preserved in the greatest of detail. He remembers his neighborhood as Lowertown, the old First Ward. He can recall with amazing clarity the nicknames of his friends and neighbors. His moniker was “Ears.”

Name: Linus Doll Age: 84 Home community: Fond du Lac Years in community: 76 Occupation: Retired; longtime carpenter Reaction to being nominated for a Success section story: “That’s great. It’s a great honor. I don’t know how else to describe it.” To whom do you owe your measure of success? “I would say I had very good teachers and good employers, especially when I came home from the Navy. “There was Mr. (Leon) Bird (Bird Construction Co.) and Ray Treptow, who I worked with building homes. And I’ve always been indebted to Don Ahonen Sr. (his employer for 29½ years at Fond du Lac Lumber Co.).”

all kinds of other nuances that come into play.




a dream fulfilled


The Reporter

Hall of fame honor caps stellar basketball coaching career for 1967 Springs grad Jim Wegner (purple sweater), a 1967 St. Mary’s Springs graduate, coached the Two Rivers High School boys basketball team to the 1992 WIAA State tourney. Wegner was inducted into the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame on Oct. 2 in Middleton. Submitted photo Jim Wegner had his occupation — and a passionate part-time job — picked out when he was a student at St. Mary’s Springs High School more than 40 years ago.

ball Coaches Association Hall of Fame on Oct. 2 in Middleton after compiling a career record of 304-127 with 11 conference titles, four regional championships and a State tourney berth.

“When I knew I wanted to be a teacher, which was in high school, I also knew I wanted to coach,” Wegner said.

“We built a very good basketball program at Two Rivers, and we did things the right way,” said Wegner, who is married to Marilyn and has two sons, Brent and Marc. “I was blessed to have good players and assistant coaches. It was a nice run.”

The Fond du Lac native lived out his dream — and then some — in Two Rivers along the scenic shores of Lake Michigan.


The UW-Oshkosh graduate taught social studies in the “Cool City” for 34 years, and he coached boys basketball for 31 years, including 20 successful seasons as varsity head coach. Wegner’s teams were so successful, in fact, that he was inducted into the Wisconsin Basket-

Wegner played varsity basketball for three years under hall of fame coach Don Gosz, and he also played varsity golf for two seasons before graduating in 1967. “I had a deep love for the game (of basketball),” Coach Wegner said, “and I knew (coach-

Fond du Lac native Jim Wegner was inducted into the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame on Oct. 2 in Middleton. He had a varsity record of 304-127 with 11 Eastern Wisconsin Conference titles, four regional championships and a State tourney berth while coaching the Two Rivers boys team from 1981-2001. Submitted photo

Working toward success

“It became our family,” said Marilyn Wegner. “… I went to all the games, and the kids went, too. Of course, they got to play for their dad, and that was a neat thing.”

It was difficult to find coaching positions in the days before Title IX opened the doors for girls athletics, and, after coaching intramurals at L.B. Clarke Middle School for about three years, Wegner coached the boys freshman team from 1975-77. “My first year I thought I knew a lot being a former player, and my first freshman team went 2-10,” said Wegner, who started the Raiders’ Little Hoopers program years later after getting the varsity job. “I learned I needed to go to clinics, read books, get mentors. That got me really going.” He was off to clinics all around the Midwest, including Bob Knight’s clinic in Bloomington and WBCA clinics. Wegner also read the book “Basketball: Multiple Offense and Defense” by North Carolina coach Dean Smith, and one of the things he took from that was implementing a four-corners, endof-game offense to preserve leads. He coached the JV team from 1977-81, and he took the varsity reins in 1981. Over the next 20 seasons, Wegner’s teams won 11 Eastern Wisconsin Conference titles, he was named league coach of the year eight times, and he was the Northeast Wisconsin Coach of the Year in 1989.

‘Meticulous, well-prepared’ “He was always very meticulous and very wellprepared,” said Warren Otto, who was Two Rivers’ varsity coach from 1957-64 and in 1981 as well as Wegner’s assistant for all 20 seasons. “He studied tapes, and he was always open to new ideas. I would guess a lot of coaches are pretty set in their ways. (Jim) would try to adapt his offense and defense to players we had. … He came up with a truly different dynamic.” The Raiders won two Class A regionals (1987, 1989) — the largest division at the time — and two Division 2 regional titles (1992, 1997), and they went to State in 1992 after beating Sturgeon Bay and Clintonville in sectionals. “I was lucky enough to have good players who worked hard and were successful,” Wegner says about his coaching career. “It made me look good.” His former assistant says being humble is one of Wegner’s strong suits. “He did not make a big deal about it,” Otto said of the hall of fame induction. “He’s just a modest guy. He’s not going to go around tooting his horn. He’s one of the nicest guys you’ll meet.”

Family time Brent and Marc Wegner remember their dad taking them along to practices and open gyms

The Wegners fondly recall Brent’s game-winning assist against rival Manitowoc during his senior season of 1997-98. With the game tied at 58 in the final seconds, Brent drove the length of the court and dished to Brian Mulhaney, who made a layup with two tenths of a second remaining.

“After regionals of my senior year, we lost in a tough game in overtime to Freedom (at home). I was in my room just bumming because it was my last time playing high school basketball and last time playing for my dad. He just came in and gave me a hug. It’s one of the things you just don’t forget.” The coach also hasn’t forgotten when Marc put in 36 points one night against Kiel during his senior season of 1999-2000.

Continued on Page 66.

It was the fourth consecutive win for Wegner and Two Rivers against their bigger neighbor. “It was fun playing for him, and it was something I was always looking to do, from grade school on,” Brent Wegner said. “When I had him as coach on varsity, we were able to separate father and son. He was coach, and I was a player. We were able to

Name: Jim Wegner Age: 61 Hometown: Fond du Lac High school: St. Mary’s Springs (Class of 1967) Residence: Two Rivers Family: Parents, Howard and the late Bette; wife, Marilyn; son and daughter-in-law, Brent and Gretchen; granddaughter, Gemma; son and daughter-in-law, Marc and Hillary. Career: Wegner coached Two Rivers freshman boys basketball from 197577, junior varsity boys basketball from 1977-81 and varsity boys basketball from 1981-2001. He compiled a varsity record of 304-127 with 11 Eastern Wisconsin Conference titles, two Class A and two Division 2 regional titles, and a State appearance in 1992. After graduating from UW-Oshkosh in 1971, Wegner taught social studies at L.B. Clarke Middle School for five years and at Two Rivers High for 29 years. He was athletic director from 2001-07. Reaction to being selected for a Success section story: “I’m really shocked. I never really thought of me being in that type of article.” To what do you owe your measure of success: “I had a really strong work ethic that came from my parents and was also instilled in me in at St. Mary’s Grade School. It really helped me be successful in coaching.”

Fond du Lac native Jim Wegner hoists a WIAA Sectional championship plaque after beating Sturgeon Bay and Clintonville in 1992. He compiled a career record of 304-127 with 11 Eastern Wisconsin Conference titles, four regional championships and a State tourney berth from 1981-2001.

Submitted photo

Wegner landed in Two Rivers after graduating from college in 1971, and he married Marilyn, a fellow teacher, in 1973.

do that on the court. After the game, he was dad.


when they were kids, and they dreamed of playing for their dad on the varsity team.


ing) was a way to stay involved for pretty much my whole life.”





Continued from Page 65. Father-sons relationship There are surely many more memories, but the overall father-sons relationship is something worth remembering. “Everyone else is calling him coach, and I was calling him Dad,” Marc Wegner said. “Looking back, it was a special time in my life to play for him.”


A special time playing for a special father and coach. “He’s someone who always cares about everyone,” Marc Wegner said. “He certainly tried to look for the best in (every player), and he’s someone that brings a positive attitude that people like to be around. He got the most out of his players. He’s a great evaluator. He knew people’s strengths, and he put them in a position to succeed. Obviously I love the guy, and he’s someone I look up to as a role model. He’s a good-hearted individual.” WI-5001195675


Wegner is proof that nice guys don’t have to finish last. Custom home designs done by our in house design team

“He worked very hard,” Marilyn said of her husband. “This is like the cream of the crop; he made it to the top. “He’s never one to say, ‘Look at me, look at me,’” Marilyn said. “He’s very gracious. Jim never would be someone to say, ‘I deserve to be in the hall of fame,’ but he’s very honored to be there.”

‘Perfect coach’s wife’

“There is no doubt she deserves a great deal of recognition for what she did,” Coach Wegner said. “She was the perfect coach’s wife. She was at every game and practically every away game. She spent lots of time by herself with the boys. Coaching takes up so many hours, but she never complained. She backed me 100 percent my whole career. I really thank her for that.”

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