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Blushing Badgers – 1950s

Sorority pins and cost supper dates: grads of the ’50s share tales of campus romance.

Badgers know that Cupid’s bow shoots missiles tipped with Motion W–shaped arrowheads. Students find chemistry with each other while sharing a Bunsen burner, or they make sweet music during a trombone lesson. We asked you readers to share tales of where love found you while you were on campus, and your responses brought an ear-splitting chorus of “Awwww…” We have space to reproduce only a fraction of what we received, which should still be enough to send the dial on the romance-o-meter spinning.

In this update, Badger grads of the ’50s share tales of campus romance. Check out the links below for stories from other decades.

More Blushing Badgers

Jill Ragatz ‘59

Wayzata, Minnesota

Dick [Ragatz ‘60] and I met the fall of 1956. We began dating the following spring with trips to the library, tennis sessions and a few rides on the ducks in Wisconsin Dells. We will celebrate our 55th wedding anniversary in February. We sent both our kids there to find their soulmates as well. Now we have two granddaughters attending and maybe they will be so lucky to find partners with great values and a sense of commitment along with fun U of W memories.

Barbara Bass Grubman ‘54

Woodland Hills, California

His name was Lenny and he belonged to one of the 'Jewish' fraternities on Campus. He was a tall guy with dark wavy hair a cute face and nice. I don't know when I developed that crush on him, but I did. In trying to figure out a way to get together with him, I decided to ask him how his new car (a Ford) was doing. (Silly question, huh?), and that led to him asking if I wanted to go for a drive sometime. Well, that was exactly what I was hoping for him to say. We spent a lot of time in that car....Sitting and talking, some kissing. One date I recall was a ride in a canoe on Lake Mendota and another was driving THE car to a picnic given by Hampton Hampton house, where I lived. I recall being very proud, as my friends all had to take a chartered bus and we pulled up in a car! Now, our relationship did not last too long, as I knew it wouldn't , because Lenny had a 'girl back home'. On the last week before we graduated, I saw him with her at Rennenbohms one day. My heart didn't feel too good about that, but I survived. He married the girl from back home and I saw them at a Wisconsin Pep Rally before they played in the Rose Bowl, a few years ago. I had mixed emotions about seeing him and his wife.
I am not even sure that he remembered me at all.

Ken Gasper ’61, MS’63, PhD’66

Bellingham, Washington

In July 1959 studying for a summer school organic chemistry course was getting more difficult for me as the summer heat was oppressive in my non-air conditioned rooming house. So one hot summer afternoon I headed to the refreshing air-conditioned study hall on the first floor of Memorial Library. Sitting at the study table just ahead of where I sat was a studious co-ed [Karen Gasper ‘62]. I left for supper at Three Squares Eating Co-op in the basement of Wesley Methodist Church. When I returned to my books in the study hall, the co-ed was there studying. I got up my courage and asked her, had she not gone out to eat? She had. Her name was Karen. We chatted briefly a couple times over the course of the evening, and I walked out with her at the close of library hours. She met her sister, also a U Wisconsin student, and they drove off. The next day Karen was at the same location in the study hall in the afternoon, and so was I! By the end of the evening I had invited her to play tennis on Saturday afternoon, and a day later I included the forthcoming Saturday date to also include going to the Memorial Union theater Saturday night to a movie, "Pillow Talk" with Kim Novak. Saturday came and we enjoyed the tennis and the movie. We also enjoyed the post-movie time out on the Union patio under the stars, talking as we sipped lemonade. A week later we went to the Summer Prom. A week after that as I attended a church conference out of state, I told a friend that had gone off to seminary that I had met the girl I was going to marry. He asked if he could perform the ceremony (after he finished divinity school). I said I doubted that we would wait that long. We didn't. We were married in Madison in September 1961, just before I started graduate school. Karen graduated from the School of Education and taught elementary school in Madison while I pursued graduate school. In the next decade we had four children as we spent most of our career in the State of Washington. Love that began over fifty-five years ago continues to bloom as we live in retirement in the Pacific Northwest.

William C. Schultz ’52, MS’53, PhD’58

Orange, California

As an engineer and a food science major, we met on the stage of Music Hall in the UW Concert Band, French horn and flute, respectively. Jean Langenegger [‘51] and I made music together for 62 ½ years before Jean passed away last February, after seven years with Lewy Body Dementia.

Mary Butts ’58, MA’59

Sheboygan, Wisconsin

My deceased husband [Thomas Butts ‘61] and I were married for 55 years. He died two weeks after our anniversary. We met playing bridge AGAINST each other at the Italian Village. We went on dates to the A*W when we could afford the gas. I helped him find books for the UW Extension at Memorial Library and he came to see me every weekend from his teaching job in Plainfield staying with his sister who worked at the Extension Library. Our 3 children all went to Madison for their degrees. We had season ticked for football and sponsored a trombone. We followed basketball as well and both got 50 years alumni pins. After retirement, we were sort of joined at the hip going on trips and swimming at the Y. When we were dating, we'd go to Vilas Park and he practiced his life guarding holds on me. I almost drowned! We were Yiing and Yang.

John Berge ‘51, PhD’58

Racine, Wisconsin

My wife [Lila Berge ‘55] and I only overlapped one semester when I came back to graduate school after working for duPont and spending two years in the army. We met through Hoofers Club canoe trips. Over the Memorial Day weekend, a three-day canoe trip down the Kickapoo River in southwest Wisconsin was planned and they needed a “chaperone”. As a graduate student, I qualified under the rules of that time. I also considered that responsibility gave me the opportunity to pick my own canoe mate. I went to the Club’s card file for the information on Lila Greenfield, called her and she agreed. We have been canoeing together ever since from the Quetico Provincial Forest to the Everglades. In June we will celebrate our 59th wedding anniversary. I have sometimes wonder why I was looking in that card file. Recently, when reviewing and sorting some old pictures, we came across one of Lila as a coed in a swimsuit. Now I know.

Bonnie Steiner Lindenbaum ’60 and Leon Lindenbaum ‘58, LLB’61

Glenview, Illinois

Fifty-seven years ago at an AEPhi spring dance
Both of us decided that we would take a chance
A blind date was how we met—we can’t forget that day
Back in 1957 on the 3rd of May

I didn’t have a guy to ask while pledging the sorority
My “sisters” told me not to worry—they’d take care of me
So they fixed me up with Leon Lindenbaum, a handsome ZBT
And it turned out this nice young man was truly perfect for me!

We both agreed we had a good time on our first date that night
And when he asked me out again, naturally, I said “all right”
Then went to movies, dinners, the library, football games of course
Because he was the Daily Cardinal’s Assistant Editor of Sports!

We were hoping all the steps of love for us would be made . . .
So there was lavaliering, pinning and even a serenade
Then in 1958 we became engaged to wed
And on June 28 of ’59, “I do” is what we said

He was from Sturgeon Bay and Chicago was home to me
But we knew the big city was where we’d eventually be
We interrupted our schooling for one semester and then
When he finished his army duty back to Madison again

Leon became a lawyer and teaching was my career
Soon we moved to the suburbs and raised our family so dear
He’s never stopped loving the Badgers and all our friends know it
Football as well as basketball—this Badger is so proud to show it!

We’ve had season’s tickets to the games for 21 years, it’s true
Going back go Madison is something we love to do
For his 60th birthday I surprised him with a bus taking friends to the game
He loved it and for the rest of our lives that will be my claim to fame!

We both are grateful to UW, a great university
If we had not met there the lives we lead now wouldn’t be
Yes, love bloomed for us in Madison and 57 years later it’s still there
And telling our love story is something we are so very happy to share!!

Joyce Hasselman Nigbor '59, MS '78


Love bloomed for me at Elizabeth Waters Hall. I was a waitress and he [Karl Killingstad '60] was a busboy. We met at a party for all the workers, and we spent many early evenings spooning across the street by a pine tree or further back near a warm air duct near the Home Economics Building. Those were the days when EW was a woman's dorm, and while entertaining in the lounge, one foot had to always be on the floor. Monitors roamed the hall.

Deanna deBower Bowers ‘60

Upland, California

I met my Badger Soulmate, Warren Bowers ‘60, in the fall of 1957. He was president of Acacia Fraternity, and I was president of the nursing sorority, and we met when we set up the Wisconsin traditional "beer supper" for our two organizations. We were married in 1960 and have continued to "organize" the people and groups around us for 54 years now.

Chet Nelson ‘54

San Diego, CA

It was when I was a Psychology Grad Student in a small eating/housing Co-op just off campus. We decided to move from our first floor apartment to a house on August 1st (between summer session and fall, avoiding 2 rents). We did it ourselves and were tired and hot when we finished, so 3 of us headed to Paisan’s for pizza and beer. When we finished, a thunderstorm raged outside, so we ordered some more pizza and beer. Two of my fellow Psych Grad students walked in, found Paisan’s packed as usual in those days. They saw me and headed over to sit with us. They had a young woman with them, who sat next to me. We hit it off, were the last to leave, and I walked her home. We were married 6 months later and enjoyed 46 years together. We always went out for pizza and beer on August 1st. I lost her to complications from Alzheimers a few years ago.

Rawson Price ‘57

Gillett, Wisconsin

In 1955, Delta Tau Delta and Chi Omega co-sponsored a candidate for Prom Queen, and members of each were encouraged to sign up for a blind date so that more members of each could vote for our candidate. I and Mary Lenz [Price ‘57] both signed up. We met for a preliminary date before the Prom at the Pub. I guess it was a pretty good blind date. We got married three years later and have been together married for almost 57 years!

Gerald Wille ‘61

Oak Creek, Wisconsin

I met my girlfriend and wife of 50 years, Judie Gregg ‘62, in the dish room at Holt hall. We worked together for a couple years and married after I got out of the Navy.

Liz Edgarton ‘56

Fond du Lac, Wisconsin

I met my soul mate [Allan Edgarton ’56, LLB’61] at a fraternity rushing party when we were freshmen. We were also in the same math class. That is when I met him but not when we started dating. I became pinned to someone else that year, then dated another fraternity gentleman when the pin went back. Other sorority sisters dated my soul mate the following year and thought he was great. I thought perhaps I should take a look at him and did so at a sorority-fraternity function. Obviously, it worked out. One of our favorite places was the Varsity Bar. We attended all the football games and held the signs that, when raised, spelled out WISCONSIN. Alan Ameche was the star of the team and Wisconsin went to the Rose Bowl. We were married 2 weeks after we graduated. We returned, after the Marine Corps, when he went to Law School. The wedding vows have continued for 57 years.

Marguerite Axley ‘54 and Hartman Axley ’52, LLB’56

Lakewood, Colorado

My parents met in the Hoofers Clubhouse when they both attended the University back in 1950, I think. They fell in love, but then my dad had to go to Korea. They got married in September of 1954, my dad barely making it back from Korea in time for the wedding! They were married for just short of 50 years when my mom died of cancer in 2004.

Because of their love for Madison and for each other, I went to the University and so did both of my daughters!

William Marshall '60, MS'61, PhD'71

Lancaster, Pennsylvania

Remember when there were no Sunday night meals served on campus. One Sunday evening I went to the First Congregational church on Breeze Terrace for their "cost supper and program". During the program I noticed a particularly good-looking woman [Julia Marshall ‘60] across the room and managed to get her name off the nametag she was wearing. Once back in my Showerman House room, I looked up her name in the campus directory and called her to invite her to go with me to the next Sunday's supper. She said yes and the rest is history. We were married 5 years later and have been together for 56 years, which produced four sons and ten grandchildren. We both continue to be loyal alumni of the great State University of Wisconsin.

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