Class Notes: Spring 2011

May 24, 2011

Class Notes

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Gordon Hansen ’43 (Wells Minn.) recently lost his wife, Lorraine. Gordon continues to work on two war monuments in the Wells area.


Shirley (La Rock) Wilson ’51 (Rochester, Minn.) notes that she recently turned 80. She has been in her home for 55 years and has 13 grandchildren and three great grandchildren.


Marlene ’65 and Jerry Mensink ’65 (Rochester Minn.) welcomed their first grandson, Maxwell Patrick Mensink, on February 14.

Terry Lierman ’69 (Chevy Chase, Md.) has been named one of Washington’s most powerful staffers by Roll Call. Terry has chaired the Maryland Democratic Party and was national finance co-chair for Howard Dean’s presidential campaign. He also ran for U.S. Congress in 2000.


Nancy Butler ’76 (Lakewood, Colo.) has a new position, senior clinical science liaison in Medical Affairs for Centocor Ortho Biotech/Johnson and Johnson. “I am very happy to have landed here and challenged with learning a new field, immunology with rheumatology focus,” says Nancy.

Randy Staver ’79 (Rochester, Minn.) was elected to a four-year term on the Rochester City Council. Staver has worked for Mayo Clinic in areas including information technology and management engineering. In addition to campaigning this summer, he also participated in the weddings of two daughters, one of whom is also a WSU graduate.


Tammy Steele Westby ’80 (Rochester, Minn.) has formed CRW Architecture + Design Group along with ten other design professionals. Tammy is associate partner and marketing director for the firm, which is based in Rochester.

Donna Torkelson ‘83 (Zion, Ill.) has been teaching in the Winthrop Harbor school district for her entire 26-year career. She now teaches K-4 fine arts and will receive her master’s in curriculum and instruction in May. Dana’s oldest daughter, Brittany, plans to follow her mother’s footsteps to Winona State. Dana has also adopted three children, Juan, Monique, and Jonathan.

Michael Kramer ’86 (South Bend, Ind.) and wife Claire welcomed a second daughter, Fiona, on May 1, 2010. She joins sister Daisy.

Kurt Johnson ’88 (White Bear Lake, Minn.) was named the 2011 Minnesota State Auctioneer Champion. Johnson is a past president of the Minnesota State Auctioneers Association, an instructor at World Wide College of Auctioneering, and has been in the auction business for 22 years. (Read a feature on Kurt in the Winter 2009 issue of Currents).

Peter Woerpel ’89 (La Crosse, Wis.) will retire as principal at Onalaska High School this summer. He graduates his thirteenth class in June and has been with the Onalaska district since 1978, first as a physical education and health teacher and later as assistant principal and principal. He earned his master’s at WSU in educational leadership.


Dave Bringe ’91 (Holmen, Wis.) has been promoted to senior vice president of sales at WinCraft, Inc. in Winona. Dave began working for WinCraft in 1996 and was later named national sales manager and then vice president of sales in 2008.

Jennifer Carlson ‘91 (Circle Pines, Minn.) recently co-authored the book, Multimedia Text Sets:  Changing the Shape of Engagement and Learning (Portage & Main Press) with Janice Marcuccilli Strop. The book provides learners with tools to explore and interpret today’s variety of multimedia text forms. Jennifer is assistant professor in the School of Education at Hamline University.

Shelly (Sornberger) Merchelewitz ’91 (Winona) teaches at Bluffview Montessori School in Winona and has boys aged 11, 10, 7, and 5.

Christine (Kamenske) Horvath ’93 (Marana, Ariz.) has been named vice president and chief compliance officer at Stratford Advisory Group, Inc. She manages the firms financial, compliance, information technology, and human resource operations, and directs its investor advisor compliance program. In addition to earning her bachelor’s at WSU, she received her MBA with distinction at DePaul University.

Yvonne D’Arcy ’95 (Germantown, Md.) writes that her latest book, How to Treat Pain in the Elderly, has received Book of the Year from the American Journal of Nursing. Yvonne is currently pain management and palliative care nurse practitioner at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Bethesda, Md.

Jessie (Peissig) Gomez ’95 (Fullerton, Calif.) and husband Nigel welcomed their second child, Iva Juliet, on December 26, 2010. Iva joins 2-year-old sister, Rio Jasmine.

James Mangold ’95 (Pulaski, Wis.) has been named business banking manager for Wells Fargo’s northeast Wisconsin district. He will be based in Green Bay. He began his career with Wells Fargo in Apple Valley, Minn. and was recently district and store manager in Raleigh, N.C.

Matthew Shea ’96 (St. Paul, Minn.) was elected a shareholder of Gray Plant Mooty, the Minneapolis-based law firm. He practices in the areas of estate planning, business succession planning, estate and trust administration, and international estate and tax planning. Minnesota Law & Politics magazine has named him a “Rising Star” five times. Matthew graduated summa cum laude from Winona State and earned his JD, cum laude, at William Mitchell College of Law.

When Amy Ellestad Conlon ’97 (Madison, Wis.) recently returned to Winona to celebrate the senior football game of her youngest, Joseph, it was a homecoming of sorts for the rest of the Ellestad family.  Joe ‘10 (center) played wide receiver for the Warriors. In addition to Amy and Joe, Eric ’01, Patrick ’07, and Jeff ’07 graduated from WSU. Sisters-in-law Tara McCabe Ellestad ’00 and Jennifer Irish ’07 are also Winona State alums.
Justin Barrientos ’98 (Winona) and his wife, Marie, had a son, Benjamin Carter, on June 9, 2010.

Renae Servaty ’98 (Spearfish, S.D.) is new executive director of the Booth Society, a non-profit group that works with U.S, Fish and Wildlife Services to operate the D.C. Booth Historic National Fish Hatchery and Archives. Renae coordinates volunteer and outreach programs and manages visitor services.

Shannon (Hudak) Saesan ’99 (Farmington, Minn.) married Joshua Ben Saesan on August 14, 2010. Shannon is a web design project manager at Capella University in Minneapolis. Josh works at Carol Corporation in Bloomington.


Cyndi (Nelson) Blume ’00 (Roseville, Minn.) and husband Ryan welcomed son Nathan on July 23, 2010.

Alyssa (Ponto) Huettl ’00 (Prior Lake, Minn.) and husband Steve welcomed their second son, Easton Dean, to their family on October 25, 2010.

Meghan (Anderson) ’00 and Erik ’01 Leverenz (Grayslake, Ill.) welcomed a new addition to their family on November 5, 2010:  daughter Abigail Hope. She joins her big sister, Kaitlyn.

Mike Passe ’01 (Holly Springs, N.C.) was promoted to captain by the U.S. Marine Corps in November. Mike served in Iraq in 2005 and 2006 before attending Officer Candidate School. He flies helicopters out of New River Air Base in North Carolina.

Breanna (Wagner) Welke ’01 (Hastings, Minn.) and husband Brian had a baby girl, Evelyn Ames on September 29th, 2010.  Breanna is a public relations account manager at Kohnstamm Communications in St. Paul, MN. Brian works with American Family Insurance in Hastings.

Shelly (Krusko) Hexom ’02 (Sioux City, Iowa) and husband Fred welcomed their first child, Alexander Elliott, on September 27, 2010.

Bill McCormick ’02 (Appleton, Wis.) and his wife, Lori, welcomed a second son, Aiden Daniel, on February 9.

Alanna (Killian) Callahan ’03 (Dubuque, Iowa) and husband Tom welcomed their fourth son, Owen, in October. Owen joins brothers Eli, Ethan, and William.

Steven Moechnig ’03 (Madison, Wis.) and Amber Dolphin plan a June 4 wedding in Spring Green, Wis. Steve earned his degree in composite materials engineering and is employed with Trek Bicycles. Amber is a musician and teacher.

Jesse Valley ’04 (St. Louis Park, Minn.) has been commissioned to create eleven photographs for the Science Museum of Minnesota for its permanent exhibit, “Wonder Years.” His photography will help illustrate the exhibit, with photos of young children playing and interacting with family and friends. To see Jesse’s photography, go to

Alecia (Brunkow) Peterson ’05 (Blooming Prairie, Minn.) announces the birth of her first child, son Mason Alexander, on November 1, 2010.

Nicole (Neumann) Byerly ’06 (Mahtomedi, Minn.) married Tony Byerly on January 30, 2010. Nicole has worked for the Department of Veterans’ Affairs since 2006. Tony is a firefighter at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

Tasha (Kalis) Frasher ’06 (Sanborn, Minn.) married Jeremiah Frasher in 2007, the same year she got her first teaching job at Floodwood School. She is now band director and Lamberton Jazz Festival coordinator for Red Rock Central Public Schools.

Thomas ’06 and Tiffany (Staver) Kacir ’06 (Rochester, Minn.) were married on September 25, 2010. Tiffany is a social worker with Zumbro Valley Mental Health. Tom is an English composition tutor at Rochester Community and Technical College.

Echo (Kruckenberg) Lahey ’06 (Brooklyn, N.Y.) married Phil Lahey on on December 31, 2010.

Dustin Sadnick ‘06 (St. Paul, Minn.) has joined LaBreche as an account executive. He has experience in the legal, higher education, and financial industries. In his free time, Dustin volunteers with Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Greater Twin Cities.

Kyle Johnson ‘07 (Prior Lake, Minn.) married Lindsay Elizabeth Olsen on October 30, 2010. Kyle is a physical education teacher while Lindsay is a student teacher in Wayzata.

Patrick ’07 and Katelyn (Krueger) McShea ’07 (Genoa City, Wis.) were married in 2008 and welcomed their son, Caleb Thomas, on December 29, 2009. He is a social worker in Northern Illinois, while Katelyn is a medical and legal advocate for sexual assault victims.

First Time the Charm

When Holly Sutton ’09 was named head girls soccer coach at Rogers High School, her experience included just one year at the helm of the Royals’ junior varsity.

She’s quickly building her resume. Her first season ended with a perfect 24-0 record and a Minnesota Class A championship for Rogers, located just northwest of the Twin Cities. It was the first team title in any sport for the Royals. Longtime high school observers can come up with only three other Minnesota coaches who led their teams to state titles in their first season as head coach.

A standout player at Winona State, Sutton was a multiple All-America team member and was Daktronics Central Region Player of the Year and a two-time NSIC Offensive Player of the Year. At Winona State, she won conference titles in all four years as a player and qualified for the NCAA Division II tournament twice. She also teaches at Rogers Middle School.

Taylor (Basara) Peck ’07 and C.J. Peck ’10 (Winona) married on May 22, 2010 in Wisconsin Dells. Taylor is a registered nurse at Gundersen Lutheran Hospital in La Crosse, Wis. and is studying for her master’s degree at Winona State. C.J. earned his business degree at WSU and is delivery coordinator at Menards.

Alyssa (Redberg) Julik ’08 (Elk River, Minn.) and Jacob Julik were married on September 18, 2010.

Brian ’07 and Lauren (Kuhn) Segner ’10 (Plymouth, Minn.) were married on October 15, 2010. Lauren is a preschool teacher in Plymouth. Brian works as an accounting assistant in Minnetonka.

Ross Fahey ’09 (Belleville, Wis.) is now manager of Cheater’s Bar and Lounge in Winona. He is overseeing a complete remodeling of the establishment. Ross, who transferred to WSU from Madison Area Technical College, has also worked as special event coordinator for Miller Lite.

Jake Rajewsky ’10 (Mason City, Iowa) has joined the Globe Gazette in Mason City as a photojournalist. The mass communication major worked at the Winonan, the Winona Daily News, and the La Crosse Tribune.

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About Winona State University

Founded in 1858, Winona State University is a comprehensive public university with more than 8,500 students. The oldest member of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System, Winona State offers 80 undergraduate, pre-professional, licensure, graduate, and doctorate programs on its three campuses: the original Main Campus in Winona, the West Campus in Winona, and Winona State University-Rochester.

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