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Building up the Community: Walworth County Impact

Debra Alder ’77 and Jeffrey Scherer ’74, MD’79 have spent their life together helping to build up Walworth County.

Debra Alder ’77 and Jeffrey Scherer ’74, MD’79

Until last year, Debra Alder ’77 was known as the civic-minded CEO of a Delavan-based trucking company, and her husband, Jeffrey Scherer ’74, MD’79, as a longtime radiologist with strong community ties.

Then the two UW–Madison graduates expanded their résumés, tackling a major renovation of a 103-year-old building that they hope will enliven downtown Delavan and enhance Walworth County.

“We were hoping that it would have tin ceilings, brick walls, and $1 million in the insulation,” jokes Alder, who heads the Alder Companies, a trucking firm started by her grandfather that delivers Dean Foods Company products throughout the Midwest.

The couple bought the foreclosed building across from Water Tower Park with an inheritance from Alder’s mother, Mary Gene Sullivan, who always felt that “there isn’t any reason why Delavan can’t thrive and succeed,” Alder says.

“My career wouldn’t exist without UW–Madison.”

There were eight run-down apartments upstairs, three shabby commercial spaces, and seven layers of tile on the floors. Local contractors gutted the building to the walls and carted out 158 nine-yard dumpsters of debris on the way to restoring the building’s luster.

Eight new apartments were constructed, and a single commercial space for a restaurant was created from the gutted space. Rushing Waters Trout Farm will run the restaurant.

Scherer says that the restored building ties in to the historic theme of Delavan, with its brick street and vintage murals.

Alder, who earned a home-economics education degree from the UW–Madison School of Human Ecology in 1977, says that her education triggered her career success and involvement with the local United Way and chamber of commerce. “My UW background gave me practical knowledge for practical application,” says Alder.

Scherer, who holds a 1974 bachelor’s degree in zoology and a 1979 medical degree, agrees. “I’ve practiced here for 31 years,” adds Scherer, who’s president of the Delavan-Darien School Board and a past member of the St. Andrew’s School Committee. “My career wouldn’t exist without UW–Madison. It taught me everything I know.”

Thank you, Walworth County, for Debra Alder and Jeffery Scherer, who are using their experience and resources to help Delavan reach its full potential.

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