Blast from the Past Series

August 21, 2012

Currents Magazine, Featured


Gary Grob is professor emeritus at WSU, a member of the Athletics Hall of Fame, and the first baseball coach in Minnesota to reach 1,000 victories. Marilyn (Schroeder)Grob taught elementary school in the Winona area for more than 20 years.

Gary Grob is professor emeritus at WSU, a member of the Athletics Hall of Fame, and the first baseball coach in Minnesota to reach 1,000 victories. Marilyn (Schroeder)Grob taught elementary school in the Winona area for more than 20 years.

“Homecoming was one of the events that brought the campus together,” says Marilyn Grob ’62 when she recalls the events she experienced 50 years ago when she was a student at Winona State College.

1962 newspaper“Then it was kind of a ‘suitcase’ school, particularly for students whose hometowns were only 30 or 40 miles away,” adds Gary Grob ’62, who went on to earn his master’s in 1965. “For homecoming there was a week full of social and athletic activities that everybody got excited about.”ks_3 2 copy

Marilyn and Gary have attended a lot of Winona State Homecomings. Gary, after all, spent 44 years as a student, teacher, and baseball coach at Winona State. Marilyn taught elementary school just a few miles from campus and faithfully attended hundreds of baseball games.
In her senior year, Marilyn was on the Homecoming Court. She remembers that Furs by Francis outfitted the entire group for the Saturday morning parade through Winona. Mums were sold on campus for boys to present to their dates. And the Warriorettes, of which Marilyn was also a member, “marched all over.”

A giant bonfire, built behind Somsen Hall where the Performing Arts Center now stands, lit up the Friday night sky and roused campus for the next day’s parade and football game. “Football had a big following and the emphasis was on alumni coming back for the game,” says Gary, whose brother played on the team.

Both Marilyn and Gary say that WSC Homecoming was a highlight of the year on campus. “Everyone was involved,” says Marilyn. “Even President (Nels) Minné attended most of the events during homecoming week.”

ks_3 7 copy


Class of 1972 newspaperIt seemed all things were possible. Student dressed up as a playboy bunny

If men could go to the moon and Nixon could be elected president – what couldn’t be done? The times were a’changin’, even if it took change a little longer to reach Winona State College – where the virtue of female students was protected by curfew and proprietary hours, although the Greek sponsored Playboy Club Dance was an annual affair. A thick blue cloud still lingered in the Smaug – which took its name from ambient air quality, not Tolkien’s dragon. Students and professors routinely lit up in the classroom and the Winonan advertised the best deal on tap and suds for your next kegger.

We were young people on a young campus. In 1970, the PAC was still unfinished and Minné Hall still a row of ramshackle houses along a city street. State funding kept tuition low so a kid with a part-time job and a little help finished with a degree and no debt.students in the smaug

Naive? Yeah, probably. Why else would we try to end a war with shouted slogans and a 20-minute sit down strike at Main and Broadway? Naive enough to believe change was possible, and then to try to make it happen.

PAC during construction

And it did.

-Jerome Christenson

Never one to hurry a good thing, Jerome Christenson attended Winona State from 1970-77. These days, he’s a columnist for the Winona Daily News.


CB1_0282 copyThere was never any doubt that I would attend Winona State. I grew up in Winona. I’m one of three siblings who went to WSU. It was the place my mother attended as a business major. It was where her children would go. I had the distinction to graduate with a BS in sociology with an emphasis on social work, and I still have my commencement photo of me shaking hands with President Robert Hanson.

ks_3 1 copyNow I’m a professor at WSU. Naturally, I look back on my senior year from that point of view. We all remember the trial of the student accused of killing her newborn and the debates it sparked on campus. And the Tylenol tampering case in Chicago, not so far from Winona. Campus was smaller then. Frequently I would park on Washington Street, where Krueger Library stands today. In 1982, Maxwell was the library.

I’m still a close friend with my faculty advisor, Hosea L. Perry. He encouraged me to go for both my master’s and PhD. I visited him whenever I came back to campus, along with Jim Reynolds and Ron Stevens, who taught my mother. When you talk about faculty-student interaction, these are classic examples. Thirty years later, the same thing is bringing students and their families to WSU.

 -Cathy Faruque ’82

Cathy Faruque returned to Winona in 1997 after earning MSW and PhD degrees. She is now professor of social work at WSU.


I was drawn to Winona State by the small town atmosphere and the womens’ gymnastics program. The teams were good and I along with three other freshmen was dynamite. We became known as the “Freshman Four.” The big, fluffy hair and jeans rolled up at the ankles were everything you’d expect from the late 1980s.

1992 newspaper segmentMy life was transformed when I was a sophomore. While I planned to major in elementary education, the exercise science program began that year. I immediately thought, “That’s what I want to do.”

Gymnastics probably had something to do with it. It made me want to understand physiology and movement. Dr. Randy Miller, who founded the program, was an inspiration to me. My focus was cardiac rehabilitation and he helped facilitate an internship at North Memorial Hospital in Robbinsdale. I was able to land a job there. Twenty years later, I work at one of the largest medical device companies in the world.1992 newspaper segment

That small town feeling at WSU has stayed with me. The camaraderie I experienced with my teammates while I was a student grew into meaningful relationships today. Looking back at those years, it was a remarkable time for me.

 -Nicole Wood ’92

Nicole (Setnicker) Wood was an All-America and Academic All-America gymnast at WSU. Today she is senior clinical research specialist at Medtronic, Inc. She lives with her family in Rogers, Minnesota. 

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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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