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Becoming Part of Memorial Union History

We know that the Terrace isn’t exactly a beautiful sight right now, but it sure will be when it reopens — bigger and better than ever. One family’s already left its mark on the new Terrace. Find out how you can, too.

It’s a place where students retreat after a long day of classes, where friends enjoy sunshine and ice cream, where coworkers meet, and where alumni gather before a Badger football game. The Memorial Union Terrace is a multipurpose, lakefront space that has served the Madison community in so many ways. This iconic place is full of history, sparking memories for all who visit.

When Erica Fox Gehrig ’88 learned that she could permanently honor her family’s Badger memories through a personalized paver brick on the soon-to-be renovated Terrace, she jumped at the chance.

“We respect those generations who came before us and had experiences like we did,” explains Gehrig on how a paver signifies her family’s relationship with the university.

Gehrig and her second cousin Meg (Margaret) Hamel ’87 are part of a long Badger tradition beginning with their great-grandparents graduating from the UW at the turn of the last century. Their great-grandfather, Ray Owen 1904, became a civil engineering professor at the UW. Ray and Theo Pickford Owen 1903 had three daughters — Sally, Merle, and Betsy — who all became UW alumnae. Sally Owen Marshall ’30 became the first director of what is now called the Wheelhouse Studios (formerly Craftshop) at the Memorial Union. In all, 23 members of the family attended the university as undergraduates. Current student Hannah Ellis x’17 is the fifth generation of this Badger family.

When the Owen descendants reunited in Madison a few years ago, about 65 family members of all ages met at the Terrace to celebrate their memories. “It has genuinely proven itself to be a multigenerational space,” Hamel says.

Now the generations will honor their great-grandparents and display their fondness for tradition and the Terrace by sponsoring a paver that says, “Badger grads since 1903. The families of Ray S. and Theo B. Owen.” This message — and many others — will be displayed on the Terrace right outside Der Rathskeller.

Wisconsin Union Director Mark Guthier believes that purchasing a paver provides families with the opportunity to become a part of the Terrace restoration, embedding them into the character of this campus icon. Their support also demonstrates the impact that UW-Madison has on its students and the community.

“We hope that visitors see these pavers as a kind of patchwork of fond memories and sentiments that express how beloved the Terrace has been — and will continue to be for generations to come,” Guthier says.

Together, all of the pavers will create a message for Terrace visitors — a reminder that they are standing on, enjoying, and becoming part of a timeless piece of Wisconsin history.

To learn more about this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, visit

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