In Memoriam: Winter 2011

November 13, 2011

Currents Magazine


Florence Larson Freed ’34 (Blooming Prairie, Minn.) passed away on July 14 at the age of 96. She taught in country schools in Waltham and Sargeant for seven years before joining her husband, Francis, on their family farm. They both retired in 1980 and moved to Brownsdale.

Harriet G. Conway ’37 (Emmetsburg, Iowa) passed away on July 14. She taught English and physical education until 1943, and after raising her family taught at Emmetsburg Catholic School part-time and later full-time at several other schools. Harriet also taught adult basic education at Horizons and Iowa Lakes Community College for 17 years before retiring at the age of 78.

Dorothea Ebert Trelstad ’37 (Zumbrota, Minn.) passed away on August 5. She was 93 years old. She earned her bachelor’s at Winona State, master’s at the University of Minnesota, and completed additional graduate work at Minnesota and Minnesota State University Mankato. Dorothea taught elementary education in Pine Island schools for nine years and also taught in rural schools around the Goodhue County area for several years. She also farmed with her husband, Palmer, in the Zumbrota area.

Margaret Elise Wilson ‘38 (Red Wing, Minn.) passed away on September 9 at the age of 96.


Donitza Lumovich Kunelius ’40 (Waterville, Minn.) passed away on August 22 at the age of 94. She earned a master’s at Minnesota State University Mankato after receiving her BA at Winona State and was involved in education for her entire life, teaching in Columbia Heights for many years at Franklin Junior High in Mankato.


Gordon Danuser ‘52 (Rochester, Minn.) passed away on August 22. A well-known musician, he earned his bachelor’s at WSU and master’s at the McPhail College of Music in Minneapolis. Gordon was the music teacher and band director for the Dodge Center Public Schools for 13 years and a music educator at Rochester Community College for 19 years until he retired. An original “music man,” he played every instrument in the band and gave thousands of lessons. His bands won numerous awards and he performed for four U.S. presidents.

Mary Washburn Fahning ’55 (Dodge Center, Wis.) died peacefully on July 5. She taught English, music, and physical education in Dodge Center after graduating from Winona State, formally retiring in 1959 to raise her family. She continued to work as a substitute and taught swimming lessons for many years. Although she often said her parents urged her to choose teaching because it was one of the few professions open to women at the time, she maintained a deep love and respect for the profession.

Robert L. Goetting ‘55 (Winona) passed away on July 23. Although he never attended high school, Bob earned his degree at Winona State in three years and went on to earn master’s degrees in Spanish, English, and psychology. He taught at Drake University from 1965 to 1971 and later worked in human services with his wife, Karen Rae Pence.

Richard “Dick” Larson ’56 (Golden Valley, Minn.) passed away on August 19. A retired industrial arts instructor, Dick taught for three years in Ivanhoe and 31 years in the Robbinsdale school district. He was a member of the football team while a student at Winona State. Among his survivors is his wife of 54 years, Barbara Johnson Larson ’57.

Helen Reid Dittman ‘59 (Houston, Minn.) passed away on July 3. After earning her degree, Helen began her teaching career in Spring Grove and later returned to Houston, where she taught for many years and was beloved by her students. She later worked at a group home in Winona and volunteered at Gundersen Lutheran in La Crosse, Wis.


Richard “Dick” Gemmel ‘62 (Tyler, Texas) passed away on August 7 following a long battle with cancer. A native of Austin, Minn., Dick earned his BBA at WSU and later a master’s at Mankato State Teachers College. He taught for many years, much of it in Austin followed by positions in Texas. Upon his retirement in 2001, he was awarded the Texas Congress of Parents and Teachers Honorary Life Membership.

Judith “Judy” Bambenek Schmidt ’66 (Winona) passed away on September 6 at her home. She earned two master’s degrees after graduating from Winona State in 1966 and taught for 32 years in the Houston Public Schools. After retiring in 1999, Judy worked as an instructor in the master’s of education program at Saint Mary’s University. She was a beloved English and speech teacher in Houston and served as play director, speech coach, and cheerleading advisor. She was active in the community, directing numerous theater productions and serving on the Houston City Council for 12 years. A strong advocate for the arts, she was awarded grants by the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Among her survivors is Jim Schmidt ’86, vice president for University Advancement at WSU. Memorials may be directed to the M. Judith Schmidt Endowed Scholarship at Winona State.


James McArthur ’70 (Cedar Rapids, Iowa) passed away on August 22, 2009. James worked as a teacher for 34 years in Cedar Rapids, Iowa and retired after a 26-year career in the U.S. Army Reserves.

Greg Ritland ’75 (Plymouth, Minn.) died on September 12. He served in the U.S. Navy and graduated with a business degree from WSU and built a successful career in manufacturing.

Roger Rolbiecki ’76 (Shoreview, Minn.) died on July 21. He graduated from WSU and earned a master’s in physics at Ohio University. Roger was a passionate hobbyist, guitar and cycling enthusiast, collector of historical relics.

Bruce Meyer ’77 (Bemidji, Minn.) passed away unexpectedly on June 29. He graduated cum laude from Winona State and went on to earn MBA and law degrees. Bruce joined the Woodke Law Office in Bemidji in 1989, in which he eventually became a partner and shareholder, forming the new firm Brouse, Woodke, and Meyer PLLP.


Richard Martin ‘84 (Winona, Minn.) passed away on July 26 following a bicycle accident. Rick graduated from Winona Technical College and Winona State and most recently worked as a photographer for Herff Jones. A collector of classic motorcycles and cars, he also was a music lover who played in bands and was a DJ for KQAL while a student at WSU.

Timothy Gustav McGill ’84 (Cumming, Ga.) passed away on September 13. He earned his business administration degree and headed south to pursue his career, first in Huntsville, Ala., and eventually to Cumming, Ga., where he worked for Wells Fargo for 20 years.

Rodney Rosaaen ’88 (Rochester, Minn.) passed away unexpectedly on July 21. He earned his MS degree in business at Winona State and worked in the banking field as well as for the Intercultural Mutual Assistance Association, a non-profit in Rochester.


Gene Nerad ’93 (Owatonna, Minn.) passed away on September 26. After attending Winona State, he was general manager of Holiday Inn in Winona and later worked at IBI Data in Brownsdale and Jostens.

Faculty Staff & Friends

Lisa Serwa (Winona) passed away on August 31 after a long fight with cancer. Lisa was a smiling and familiar presence to students, faculty, and staff in the WSU Bookstore. She also volunteered for the Winona County Humane Society and served as a steward for AFSCME.

William Schuler (Washington, D.C.) passed away on August 27. He attended Saint Mary’s College and was employed by Hughes Aircraft and White Candy Co. He returned to Winona to manage Schuler Chocolates following the death of his father, becoming one of the candy industry’s youngest executives at the age of 25. He was a generous benefactor to Winona State, working with faculty member Carol Jefferson to obtain and restore land at Garvin Heights overlooking Winona.

Joseph Schultz, Jr. (Rollingstone, Minn.) passed away on September 15 in Winona. A graduate of the University of Minnesota, he worked as a civil engineer with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from 1954 to 1982. Remembering the scholarships he received while a student, Joe estalbished the Lois Olson Schultz Memorial Scholarship to honor his wife, and the Thomas Wayne Schultz Scholarship in memory of his son. In addition, he was a devoted supporter of the WSU’s Dixieland jazz ensemble because of his love for the music of that era.


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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