Select Page

Member Spotlight

Read a little bit about some of our outstanding members! The Learning in Retirement group is an organization that is filled with members who are passionate about learning and staying active in their retirement.


Carol A Williams

Though we’ve all enjoyed some great moments with Learning in Retirement, few of us could claim as dramatic an introduction to it as Carol Williams.  Encouraged by her friend Lois Hedge, Carol signed up for a canoe trip on Waupaca’s Chain of Lakes.

The canoe she was in went aground on the muddy bottom. Ever the volunteer, Carol hopped out of the boat to help free it – and stepped into a pothole that left her drenched to her shoulders. Fortunately it was a warm day so wet and muddy clothes didn’t dampen her spirits. Read more about Carol…


Marge Leffin

Love of books and love of learning are a natural fit, so it is not surprising that the planning committee for Learning in Retirement included several librarians. Marge Leffin was one of those librarians who put in long hours to create the structure and set up the by-laws. Then, when the organization was up and running, she served on the membership committee for a number of years. Marge has always been an active gal. Growing up in the western part of the state, she had many opportunities for skiing, hiking, and tobogganing in the scenic bluffs. Read more about Marge…


Gil and Sharon Roderick

They say life is an adventure, and few people can point to as many adventures as Gil and Sharon Roderick have had before and since their retirement. The couple have gone on 20 Elderhostel trips since retirement, exploring Australia, Bolivia/Peru and New Zealand. They have taken four grandchildren on intergenerational Elderhostels that have introduced the children to the joys of outdoor activities such as horseback riding, canoeing and rock climbing. Read more about Gil and Sharon…


Barbara Goldthwaite

Skilled in many areas, Barbara is a master of scheduling her time to accommodate her many activities. Exercise classes at the Senior Center have a high priority on the schedule there, where Barbara serves on the board of directors. Also high on her list of volunteer work is involvement in the First Presbyterian Church here in Oshkosh, where she currently serves as the treasurer of the investment fund. Barbara belongs to a writing group of five LIR members who first met each other in the “Writing Your Life Story” class. Read more about Barbara…


Ginny and John Evans

Step into the Evans’ yard any time during the growing season and you are treated to a visual feast. Potted plants bursting with color grace the deck and lead to a garden where hummingbirds have a full menu of blooms to visit. Tucked into an arbor behind John’s workshop is a vegetable garden where many varieties thrive.

But gardening is not the only talent or interest of this talented, versatile couple. They juggle a busy schedule of volunteer work, travel, LIR, and family. Read more about Ginny and John…..


Burns and JoAnne Apfeld

When the history of Oshkosh’s Learning in Retirement is written, the name of Burns Apfeld will have a prominent place. Serving as the first president in 1997, Burns and his wife JoAnne continue to be active members, attending many of the courses offered and planning and coordinating new ones. The newspaper article describing the formation of the group, and the request for volunteers to help organize it, came as Burns was retiring from his lifetime career as an executive in scrap iron brokerage. The couple was intrigued with the promise of more education offered on a less formal basis than a traditional classroom. Read more about Burns and JoAnne >>


Bob and Connie Berner

Connie Berner moved from Minnesota to Seattle when she was nine. That’s how she met Bob Berner, who at seventeen moved from Nebraska to Washington State, where he earned his three degrees at the University of Washington in the 1950s. For many years Connie has done volunteer work, particularly for the Paine Art Center and the Winnebago County Historical Society. Earlier she was kept busy with children, but she says she had the unique good fortune many wives never have, “to gain an informal education latched onto a man who practically exudes wonder for life and zest for learning.” Read more about Bob and Connie…


Fred Born 

In its ten years of existence, LIR has been blessed with many enthusiastic volunteers who bring a wealth of varied experience and interest to the organization.  Fred Born is a perfect example.  As charter members, he and his wife Joyce are familiar faces at many presentations, but Fred is just as likely to be behind the podium as in the audience.  He may be officially described as a retired veterinarian, but Joyce has been known to wonder when he will really retire. Read more about Fred…


Roger Ernst

If it weren’t for his good friends, Marge and Larry Easton, and their gift of an LIR membership when he retired two years ago, our menu of courses would be without an outstanding presenter of literature themes. Anyone attending his lectures will testify to his wide interest in literature and his deep perception of how our reading affects our lives. A native of Oshkosh (he even worked in the old Dodge garage here for a spell), he has a solid academic background. After earning his bachelor’s degree in English and speech at Stevens Point, he studied at Colorado College and was awarded a master’s degree in humanities. Read more about Roger…


Mary Dale Flanagan

“Where are the ham sandwiches being served?” Mary Dale asked the man standing next to her as the mass ended. “Come, I’ll show you,” Brendan Flanagan offered. Thus began a discussion that revealed a coincidence. Years earlier they had met in Lake Geneva where Mary was a waitress and Brendan, the customer. Their conversation continued, eventually climaxing in a marriage that has already endured for 16 years. Read more about Mary Dale…


Janice Frazee

Janice Frazee admits to a lifelong love of “going to school,” so it is no surprise to those who know her that she is an enthusiastic supporter of the Learning in Retirement organization. As a precursor to her involvement in the LIR, she pursued an intense interest in “going to school” through Elderhostel excursions, completing seven of them, including the Santa Fe Trail, Daniel Boone in Missouri, the history and culture of San Antonio and the Mardi Gras. Going to school has literally been the story of Jan’s life. Read more about Janice…


Noreen and Barent Johnson

Growing up in Denver, Noreen Johnson’s only trips out of state were to her sister’s ranch in Wyoming during haying season. That changed drastically after her first marriage; she and her husband (and later children) lived on the East coast (Boston and Charleton City, Massachusetts), the West coast (Seattle), as well as in Manhattan, Kansas. They added international flavor to their travels with a year in Switzerland before settling in Oshkosh in 1976. As they moved about the country, Noreen exhibited her versatility in different positions. She worked as a secretary, taught 6th grade, and did substitute teaching. She served as coordinator of student teaching placements for the College of Education at the University of Washington and as part-time secretary for commencement at UWO. Read more about Noreen and Barent…


Eileen Leinweber

Mystical Avalon reminds us of the medieval town of Glastonbury, 30 miles south of Bristol in the UK. Connecticut owns a Glastonbury as well, today a yuppie historic homes suburb of Hartford. But when Eileen (nee Sweetland) Leinweber grew up there it was a typical picturesque New England town just shy of 15,000, where life slowly spiraled out from the center of town. She recalls with nostalgia, “We walked everywhere we went.” Read more about Eileen…


Bill Mattes

A Racine native, Bill Mattes took Extension Center courses there for a year after graduating from Washington Park High School, then transferred to UW Madison where he pursued a degree in chemical engineering, and squeezed in as many “Hill” courses as a young man’s energy could handle. Bascom Hill, we can assume, was a campus neighborhood where electives could be had to broaden any narrow field of science. He widened his curriculum with elective entrees like Corporation Finance, Contemporary Trends, and Marriage and the Family. Lucky this last one… because Kathryn Bisel, now his wife of 46 years was also on campus majoring in English. She grew up in Neenah, miles from Racine. Their paths crossed. They engineered some chemistry. One thing led to another. .. and they now reside in Neenah. No surprise. Bill and Katie have a daughter and grandson living in Wauwatosa. Katie recently became a part-time nanny so their daughter, Nancy, can finish her Ph.D. studies. Bill and Katie also have two sons; John in Madison and Dan in Ypsilanti, Michigan. Read more about Bill…


Nathalie Moore

For someone who grew up in Van Dyne—with a lot fewer amenities than we enjoy today – who raised five children, owned and rode as many motorcycles, and was married for 51 years, Nathalie Moore looks back with pleasure on a full and satisfying life. “A lot of my activities as a young girl centered around the village,” she recalls, “and my parents would just as soon not have me venture into town.  My grade school years were spent with exceptionally creative pals who planned parades, dressed up for the fourth of July, put on puppet shows… and we seemed to have had so much more spontaneous outdoor fun than kids have today.” She recalls many pick-up base ball games after supper in the summer, and in winter ice skating on a farmer’s flooded field, and down the nearby creek that froze over. Read more about Nathalie…


Jean Nelson and Jeanne Shiras

They’ve been friends a long time. Jeanne Shiras and Jean Nelson grew up in Oshkosh, just two blocks apart – Jeanne Shiras on Winnebago Street and Jean Nelson on Boyd. “But I’d never have known Jean if the Catholics hadn’t closed their (St. Mary) high school,” said Jeanne Shiras. The bobbysoxers met in Miss Loy’s Latin class at Oshkosh High School, which was then on Algoma Boulevard. Today they’re regular LIR presenters and curriculum committee members. Read more about Jean and Jeanne…


Judy Shwonek

She remembers being active as a small child, growing up in Appleton trying not to waste time, moving things along, getting things done. Since retiring ten years ago from a career in education spanning 33 years, Judy Shwonek shows no signs of slowing down. Unless you count her sly move to easier slopes on her downhill skiing trips. “I noticed more huffing and puffing last week,” she said, “snow shoeing at 11,000 feet in the Colorado Rockies.” Read more about Judy…


Helen Wittenberg

Helen Wittenberg has been on board since the beginning. She even remembers that our first classes were free, as a sweetener to join. One of our many volunteers, her long time support of LIR earned her the 2005 Volunteer of the Year Award, as those who were at our annual meeting last June remember. In the early days she helped in the mailings and phoning details of a fledgling organization and has referred many people to Becky individuals who subsequently joined LIR. She has stuck more than her share of address labels on brochures, and distributed them. As a member of our Membership and Promotion Committee she has represented, with others, our organization at the Joy Conference. To boot, it is rumored that she is always pleasant! Read more about Helen…

In Memoriam

Don Burdick

Actors Fredric March and Don Burdick may not have attended the same high school in Racine, but they both grew up in that town. (At the outset, Don wants to make it clear that back then, it was pronounced RAYcine.) With Burdick, historical integrity and correct pronunciation mean a lot. Theater people are that way. When UW Oshkosh opened the Fredric March Theater in 1971 , Don Burdick not only met Fredric March, but performed for him in a production titled The Visit. He sat at Marsh’s table during the opening night banquet. Read more about Don…


Judge Bill Crane

We are almost certain no other LIR in the state has a former track standout and dive bomber pilot as its vice president. We do. A Chippewa Falls native, Bill Crane played clarinet in the Chippewa Falls High School band, sitting elbow to elbow next to a girl clarinetist named Jeanne Vincent. One might say music brought them together. Then a homecoming dance had them setting down their instruments for a closer listen to the song in their hearts. They were married in California in 1946. This duo is still together, 58 years married, with three sons and a daughter to show for it. Read more about Bill…


Jeanne Norvell

Jeanne Norvell, a native of New London, Wis., decided to return to her Fox Valley roots after more than four decades of rubbing shoulders with the powerful and famous in Washington, D.C. Although her background provides tempting opportunities for name dropping, she reluctantly does so. Beginning as a legal secretary in the Department of Justice, Jeanne ended her exciting career as personnel manager of the Washington office of one of the world’s largest international law firms. Her involvement in the world of art in our nation’s capital resulted in her identification as an authorized agent in the return of a private Edvard Munch collection on loan to Rome. Read more about Jeanne…


Gloria Link

In Gloria Link’s dynamic LIR presentations, we have had the benefit of an extraordinary life steeped in literature and theater.

A graduate of Marquette University, in the mid-1940s she added a master of arts degree to her undergraduate majors in speech (theater) and English; and she went on to earn her doctorate in speech/ theater at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. After teaching at Marquette and Tampa University, in 1959 she joined the faculty of what is now the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. In addition to her teaching assignments, she was for 26 years coordinator of the theater program here. Read more about Gloria…


John Procknow

John Procknow at 89 is intellectually vibrant and as enthusiastic as ever to step out and enjoy the day. Though limited some physically – due a pair of cranky knees a round of golf, weather permitting, is still on the menu. He claims that his full life just keeps filling up. He says Learning in Retirement is a wonderful capstone to a long life of enjoyment — learning and living to the fullest. John is one of the founding fathers of this organization and its first curriculum chair. “That was back in 1998” he recalls, “when we were all aglow trying to find ways to bring a fledgling organization to firm footing.” Read more about John…


George Tipler

The noted choreographer, Katherine Graham, once said, “To love what you do and feel that it makes a difference, what could be more fun!”

LIR member George Tipler can identify with that comment. He loved what he did – and still does – in the educational arena. He would be too humble to say that he definitely has made a difference, but he does acknowledge that he’s had fun.

Although his early work was as a partner with his father in a trucking business, it was his 25-year stint as a Winneconne School District board member that eventually redirected all of his energies to ensuring the best for Wisconsin’s school children on a statewide basis. George served as executive director of the Wisconsin Association of School Boards from 1954 to 1988; and although he attended every WASB meeting and sometimes had to cope with volatile issues such as reorganizing the state’s school districts, what he remembers most was the fun of working with interesting, capable and public service-minded people. Read more about George…


Del and Nancy Zimmerman

They came from different places. Del grew up in Fond du Lac. Nancy is from a small town in Iowa. No covered bridge in Madison County was handy to tether the two, but separate careers in healthcare provided the connection that still continues to fuel two lifetimes … with three kids and two grandchildren to sweeten the way.

Del and Nancy Zimmerman have served the Learning in Retirement organization since its inception five years ago. Our curriculum committee blessed to have them still active as coordinators, sleuthing out new ethnic restaurants to lunch at, exploring new symphony and opera venues and finding presenters to speak on local and state history. Nancy says, “I really like the hearty ethnic lunches. Doesn’t eating well at midday mean I don’t always have to make supper? “Here’s an apple, Del!” Del Zimmerman’s interest in music, from jazz to opera, has kept him feeding our spring and fall menu of classes with many theatre and music based opportunities. Coupled with the support of Gloria Link’s and Don Burdick’s theatre and music sessions, this has become a large component of our overall offerings. Read more about Del and Nancy…