Interview with Mary Jo Kruegar Rasmussen, 11/25/2016

UW Oshkosh Campus Stories
Makenzie Butt, Interviewer | uwocs_MaryJo_Rasmussen_11252016.mp3
Campus Stories Oral History Project (UWO Audio Series 51) |


Makenzie Butt: Okay, Hi I'm Makenzie. I am currently giving an interview for Mary Jo. We are on the phone. You are in what city right now?

Mary Jo Kruegar Rasmussen: I am Mary Jo Kruegar Rasmussen, and I reside in Fairfax, Virginia.

MB: Okay, and I am giving this interview at my house in Edgar, WI 616 Gumaer Street. Well, we will start out with the first question. Mary, would you like to be called Mary or Mary Jo?

MJKR: Mary Jo.

MB: Mary Jo, perfect. Mary Jo, where did you grow up?

MJKR: I was born and raised in Kaukauna, WI.

MB: Kaukauna, WI. Is that more in the West or East?

MJKR: No, it is 10 miles South of Green Bay.

MB: Okay.

MJKR: Approximately 30 miles North and East of Oshkosh.


MB: Okay, alright that's pretty close to Oshkosh. What kind of community did you grow up in? Was it small?

MJKR: It was a small industrial community.

MB: Okay and did you--

MJKR: Paper Mill Community

MB: Did you like growing up in kind of a smaller area?

MJKR: Well that is where my parents lived. So that is what I liked to do. I still have very close friends from there so obviously there are a ton of fond memories.

MB: Fond Memories- oh that's good. I mean I am kind of from a small community too so that's kind of nice. Do you have any favorite memories growing up from the small town?

MJKR: Just that we were able to navigate the city on foot without fear during day or night and I have very close friendships. In fact, I have friendships that 2:00go back 70 years and we get together, ten of us get together each fall, and our friendship goes back to kindergarten days.

MB: Really that's an incredible friendship right there.

MJKR: And there are ten of us that get together each fall.

MB: Is it like a group of girls that you grew up with kind of?

MJKR: Yes, there are ten girls or women. We go back to kindergarten days. This fall we actually got together in door county.

MB: Oh okay, I kind of live close to there. How many people grew up in Kaukauna, WI?

MJKR: Kaukauna had a population of around 10,000 when I was there.

MB: Okay, and did it grow?

MJKR: I do not know what it is now.

MB: Okay. That is really nice. Did you grow up in a smaller neighborhood? Did 3:00you live kind of in the city part?

MJKR: We thought it was a very nice neighborhood.

MB: That's very nice. Did you live with both your mom and your dad?


MB: Okay. What were they like? Your mom and your dad?

MJKR: Well my mother was a renaissance woman who ran anytime she had a question. Intellect, very [unclear]. For one she went to the library. We didn't have computers back then. But she was a woman who was very talented in arts and crafts and interested in music and made use of the library. Just a wonderful, outgoing person. My dad was a mill worker for 37 years, and again very talented in the area of mathematics, and could fix almost anything that one would want fixed.


MB: Oh that's very nice. So your father was in mathematics?

MJKR: No, he was a mill worker. Just very, very good in mathematics.

MB: Oh sorry, I just got that information a little screwed up. So you grew up with your mom and your dad, did you grow up with any siblings?

MJKR: I have a brother 13 years older than I.

MB: Okay. So he was just kind of the older brother?

MJKR: He was my older brother.

MB: Does your brother still live in Kaukauna?

MJKR: No, he passed away I believe 7 years ago.

MB: I am sorry to hear that. Did you live with any grandparents in your household?



MB: No, it was just you 4 in that house. So, I know what you said about your mom and your dad. Did they go to college?

MJKR: No, they both have 6th grade education.

MB: So then, not talking about college yet. But do you think that pushed you a little bit into wanting to go to college or were your parents already knowing you were going to go to college?

MJKR: I was greatly influenced by my high school debate coach and my parents wanted me to go to college.

MB: So you would say you were more willing to go because of your debate coach?

MJKR: Well, he was very helpful because he was very interested in my possibility 6:00of [being] an outstanding student.

MB: Okay, we will kind of bring it back to your parents again. So were they born and raised in Kaukauna too? Or did they move to Kaukauna?

MJKR: Kaukauna area.

MB: Okay, so they were kind of familiar with the area and knew where it was?

MJKR: Oh heavens yes.

MB: [laughing] You stayed in Kaukauna, I'm guessing you didn't move around. Your parents had the same jobs?

MJKR: No, we lived in the same house for 57 years.

MB: That's very impressive. This might be a kind of bigger question. Did you have any strong values that have been instilled in you from your parents growing up?

MJKR: Work ethic and time ethic [were] very much instilled in me, and a sense of 7:00fairness, and spirituality.

MB: Would you say the work ethic is from when they had their jobs and you just kind of saw that growing up? That's what you need to do…

MJKR: It was something that was part of our way of life was that they said you were going to do something you did it and you did it to the best of your ability

MB: Would you say those are your lessons that you learned growing up in the community as well?

MJKR: Oh yes.

MB: Did anyone else, I mean you said your debate coach, play a big part in your life? Would you say anyone else in the community helped you become the person you are today?

MJKR: Well primarily, some of my high school instructors but primary my debate 8:00coach was the one who was really promoting my going to college and pursuing and putting me in contact by doing competitions for Ford Foundation scholarship which is [unclear] for doing the scholarships for today. I can't think of it, the scholarships that students do for taking the test each year.

MB: Like the ACT? Anything like that?

MJKR: No, we didn't have those. This was a competitive Ford Foundation Scholarship to which I received full compensation for going to college.

MB: So, that is like a… what do you call it…

MJKR: I had to take a day long test for it.


MB: You got your whole college paid for or was it kind of part of it?

MJKR: It was all my college expenses.

MB: Really. Wow. That's very impressive. Was this nationwide or more in the state of Wisconsin?

MJKR: Yes, nationwide.

MB: Were you the only recipient?

MJKR: No, I am sure there were other recipients, I don't know who they were or where they were.

MB: So it wasn't just one scholarship there were a couple given out?

MJKR: I have no idea.

MB: Okay. What kind of family routines did you have in your house?

MJKR: Well, it was the work that needed to be done, time together, and appreciation of the arts. Listening to music, taking music lessons, 10:00participating in school events, routines were times of daily prayer, lots of friends in and out of the home.

MB: Would you say you did a lot with your older brother?

MJKR: No, because there was a 13 year difference.

MB: Yes, so just didn't really have much in common. You had a lot of friends over that would appreciate your time at home as well?

MJKR: Yes.

MB: Could you kind of, this might be a weirder question, but the home you grew up in- was it a smaller or bigger home?

MJKR: It was a three bedroom home. Very adequate. Can't say much more to it.

MB: No I completely understand, that's a hard question. We already talked about 11:00the neighborhood you kind of grew up in, but in terms of race and ethnicity was it the same race or diversity?

MJKR: There was absolutely no diversity. Well, I shouldn't say that. We had one student of diversity what would be terms of diversity today at that time it wasn't of the Native American. One Native American girl in our high school.

MB: Really?

MJKR: Well you are talking about 59 years ago.

MB: Were other communities that were around Kaukauna similar?

MJKR: Yes, all of them were the same.

MB: Very interesting. Well now I think we can go on and talk about Oshkosh. Well 12:00you kind of said your debate coach definitely helped you along the way and trying to go to college but also your parents did. Was Oshkosh a first choice or in a mix?

MJKR: I would say a good first choice because of debate and I knew they had an excellent debate program, and gave me what I wanted and it was close to home which was important at that time.

MB: So with your high school class, the debate was an important class for you?

MJKR: In high school to be public speaking was an important part of my high school education and I knew that is what I wanted to do into college. I had offers of debate scholarships from some other institutions, but I felt the 13:00program at Oshkosh had a fine reputation at that time.

MB: Did your high school courses, well I know you said you were very strong in your debate courses in high school, were you able to take those classes in high school?

MJKR: Well there were no real classes it was an extracurricular activity in high school.

MB: You did that as an extracurricular?

MJKR: I did that, music, student government, journalism.

MB: Well, you were very well rounded.

MJKR: Well that's why I got the Ford Foundation Scholarship.

MB: Was that more after school?

MJKR: Extracurricular are after school hours.

MB: Okay, so you would have to stay after school sometimes or most of the time and work on anything [debate, journalism]? They aren't called meets. Did you have debates with other schools?


MJKR: Oh yes, we traveled all over the state of Wisconsin.

MB: Were you in a group then I'm guessing?

MJKR: We debated in competitions at high schools throughout Wisconsin. That's the best way of putting it.

MB: That's very impressive. So you knew going into college that was going to be something you were going to be extremely interested in?

MJKR: Yes, because I was interested in public experience, like speaking.

MB: Were there any other classes that stuck out to you in high school that you thought you might have went to college for?

MJKR: I was very interested in journalism. Anything in the liberal arts.


MB: Did you, with journalism, involved in the school newspaper? Did you write any of that?

MJKR: Yes, I was editor.

MB: You were editor. Was that a weekly thing or monthly that you put out the school newspaper?

MJKR: Weekly.

MB: Okay, that is how Oshkosh is now you just have the newspaper every week which is nice. So, then obviously your after school activities showed who you were as a person and what interested you. You said that your dad was very good in math. Did that interest you or not really?

MJKR: No, because I liked the liberal arts more.

MB: Okay, but you said your mom was a renaissance woman. Really into the art aspect. Like the arts, but not really the arts you are into?


MJKR: No, I was more fond of the music arts like the piano and I accompanied the chorus. Played in the party orchestra and played in the band.

MB: You said you were in choir and played the piano. Did you play anything else?

MJKR: Flute

MB: Flute, okay. You were in the band. I played the trumpet in high school but the flute was very hard. It takes a very, very smart mind to figure out the flute, I think. Then, you got your scholarship mostly because of your extracurricular activities. What were girl sports back in the day when you went to school?

MJKR: Basketball, but not much emphasis on it. I don't know, I didn't do too 17:00much with it.

MB: I know we kind of talked about this in our class, how sports for women were not really important. It wasn't a big deal that women were getting basketball [as a sport]. It wasn't a big thing when you were in high school so it wasn't very important?


MB: Did you guys [the girls] have gym class?


MB: Did you have to participate in athletic things during gym?

MJKR: Somewhat, but I did not participate because I have had physical limitations due to polio. So I did not participate in those sports.

MB: You had polio?

MJKR: Yes.

MB: If you do not mind talking about it, how did that affect you in high school? 18:00Did you receive it in high school?

MJKR: Yes, and then it just limited what my physical activities could be, but it also gave me a greater appreciation of what people have to do to [unclear].

MB: Yeah that's a very important lesson to learn as well. Now we can go into college. You said you got your scholarship. Was your scholarship for any school you wanted to go to?

MJKR: Any school I wanted to go to.

MB: Even private or across the country?

MJKR: I said any school I wanted to go to.

MB: Okay, we talked about this before. So you just wanted Oshkosh because it was closer?

MJKR: As I indicated because of their speech program.


MB: Yes, I remember that. Did the debate team talk to you? I know now with sports, universities….

MJKR: No, they did not do any recruiting. It was information that we sought out ourselves.

MB: Okay, you did say how you had a group of colleges you thought of?

MJKR:  Well, based upon on the high school state debate experiences, I knew what colleges offered what I wanted and that's what directed me.

MB: When you were looking for schools, did you have tours you could go on to see like what campus life was?

MJKR: Basically no.

MB: So pretty much you knew what you wanted because of the debate team?

MJKR: You know, Carroll College was kind of an interest for me.


MB: Is that close to Oshkosh as well?

MJKR: No, that is in Waukesha.

MB: Okay, but still in Wisconsin?

MJKR: Yes.

MB: Did your debate coach or your parents persuade you to one side or was it strictly your choice?

MJKR: It was my choice.

MB: That's nice that they allowed that. Did your brother go to college at all?


MB: Did he go to Oshkosh as well?

MJKR: No, he went to the University of Wisconsin Madison. He was an international paper renowned scientist.

MB: Paper scientist?


MB: What is that?

MJKR: Appliance and paper technology.

MB: Like the making of the paper?

MJKR: The watermarks and the paper and the design of paper- that's a whole different design area.

MB: Wow, that's very impressive. If you can remember this, what was your first 21:00day of college like?

MJKR: First day of college was settling, at this point, there was only one dorm in Oshkosh- Radford Hall. It was a female dorm and settling into the dorm and got very little counseling we did our [unclear] and class pickings by the catalog said we needed to end up with a degree. Very little counseling.

MB: Really? So you were just pretty much thrown in there?

MJKR: Yes.

MB: I know with my experience like the first day of school we had move in day was that how you guys were too? Everyone moved in on the same day?

MJKR: I think pretty much that was it.

MB: And that was an all-girls dorm?


MJKR: Mhm.

MB: Were there a lot of other boy dorms?

MJKR: As I indicated as I started the sentence that it was the only dorm at Oshkosh.

MB: Oh the only dorm, I'm sorry I just misinterpreted and just thought it was the only girl dorm. Was it different levels then like boys on one level and girls [on the other level]?

MJKR: No, it was just girls. Boys lived in rooming houses.

MB: Oh, okay. So not like dorm rooms?

MJKR: Nope.

MB: That's very interesting. Did you get along with your roommate?

MJKR: I had the same roommate for 4 ½ years.

MB: Is that one of the girls that you are close with, oh wait you are close with the girls from Kaukauna, right?

MJKR: Kaukauna.

MB: Do you still talk to your roommate?

MJKR: No, because she is incapacitated as a senior adult.


MB: First day of school we talked about, were you in a lot of credits your first couple semesters or was there a limit you had to take?

MJKR: Oh, I always carried at least 18 credits, because I had a triple major.

MB: Oh yes, I remember that. What are your 3 triple majors again?

MJKR: Speech, Political Science and Economics.

MB: What Oshkosh does now is an interim, did they have that when you went to school as well?

MJKR: What was that question?

MB: Did Oshkosh have an interim when you went to school?

MJKR: I don't know what you mean.


MB: Interim is like what we have now, it is during our winter break which is Christmas break, we have a month off but we come back for three weeks of school.

MJKR: No we did not, we went back and started over again. We had two weeks off.

MB: Okay, we have like a month off.

MJKR: No, I realize that I just misunderstood that.

MB: Do you think you would have liked having an interim?

MJKR: I didn't feel any need for it, because that is what it was at that point. It is just what was accepted. That was the schedule and that is what we did.

MB: Did your roommate have the same schedule or not really?

MJKR: Well we all had the same schedule, our classes began right after Christmas again or after New Year's.

MB: No, I mean did she have a heavy course load like you taking 18 credits?


MJKR: No she went for elementary education so she carried a lesser load.

MB: And with your triple major did you go just four years or did you have to go longer than that?

MJKR: No, I went for four years.

MB: That's very impressive for you to do that.

MJKR: I graduated [unclear].

MB: You graduated what?

MJKR: I graduated Magna cum Laude.

MB: What does that mean?

MJKR: Magna cum Laude is a graduate that has all A's and I had one …. I was the next ranked.

MB: So you were like second in your class?

MJKR: Well there were other students there in that category.

MB: Did they have a dean's list or is that what you just described?


MJKR: I guess there was a dean's list at the time, I really don't remember.

MB: Okay.

MJKR: If there was I was on it.

MB: Yes with your straight As. That's very impressive to have that with your triple major. So did you know right away going into school that you were going to have a triple major?

MJKR: No, I had no idea at that time.

MB: You just knew you had to go there for the debate team?

MJKR: Well, my ultimate goal at that time was to become a teacher, and teach the social studies area and coach debate.

MB: Okay, did you go to school undecided or did you go to become a teacher and then switch your major?

MJKR: As I just said, I thought I was going to be a teacher. I did do some teaching as soon as I got out and I wanted to teach the civic social studies 27:00area. So that's where I banked my classes.

MB: So you said you taught for a living for a little, you are saying after you graduated college you went out and taught?

MJKR: I taught middle school or junior high.

MB: Where did you teach?

MJKR: Palatine, IL and Fairfax, Virginia.

MB: Is that just where you got a job?

MJKR: Yes.

MB: Did you think of going back to Kaukauna or not really?

MJKR: No, because I was getting married and then we were moving to Washington.

MB: Well, speaking of married. Did you meet your spouse in college?


MJKR: Yes, I met my husband in economics class.

MB: Was that a freshmen year class or later on?

MJKR: I believe it was my sophomore year.

MB: We can go back, you kind of described your freshman year including your first day, were you there, if you can remember, were you there a couple days before classes started or did classes start right away?

MJKR: I have no idea, I really don't.

MB: Do you remember how classes were? Were there big lectures or smaller classes?

MJKR: Probably 30-40 in a class and lecture. With some discussion. I guess 29:00that's it.

MB: Did you have girls and boys in your classes?

MJKR: Yes.

MB: In high school was it that way too when you had girls and boys?

MJKR: Right.

MB: Okay, so it wasn't any different switching to that.

MJKR: No, I was always in Co-Ed situations.

MB: I know how we kind of talked about how you didn't participate in sports in high school because you were [apart] of the debate team, and you took on journalism. Was that more important in college with girls [in sports] or not really?

MJKR: I think it is where the interest area was in college. There were very few female debaters in college, and that was part of the learning experience was we 30:00traveled in different parts of the Midwest and out of state as far as Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Minnesota a lot, Michigan and Iowa.

MB: Was that all funded by the school with the debate team?


MB: Did you stay in hotels then?

MJKR: Well generally I stayed in hotels because in some places they didn't have facilities for females or when we debated at Notre Dame they did not have facilities for a female debater to stay. So I got to stay in a hotel. Other times we stayed in dorms or in hotels and varied as to the location.

MB: And you said you were with a group of girls or no?

MJKR: Sometimes I was with another girl usually there were 4 in what they called 31:00a debate squad and usually there were three men and me or two men and two girls.

MB: Okay so there were two men and two girls, so there was a men's debate team as well at Oshkosh?

MJKR: No, it was never termed by sex. It was termed by just whoever your partner was at the given time.

MB: I actually don't know if Oshkosh still has a debate team I think they would, but what--

MJKR: I think they do.

MB: But what would be a typical practice?

MJKR: Well you have an awful lot of research to do, intricate research, you do organize one's thinking process because we had to debate both sides of a 32:00question and we would debate one another in preparation for our competitive debates.

MB: So that was kind of what your practice was?


MB: Okay at your practice were you given a topic and you researched that topic?

MJKR: There was a national debate topic each year.

MB: So at a debate you would have one topic that you talked about?

MJKR: Yes. There was a national debate topic that all high school debaters and college level debaters debated in different subject areas.

MB: So then the national topic of the year, so every time you went to a new place it was the same one?

MJKR: It was the same topic it was the national topic of the year.

MB: Okay so even though it was the same topic was it different when you went to each place?


MJKR: Well, there were different issues that were brought up, each person were different, we had to be able to debate each sides of an issue and you had to be prepared to answer questions from your opponents and to add additional and supporting information.

MB: So you did debate both sides. I was never a part of a debate team so this is very interesting for me to hear about all of this, and you also took on the school newspaper at Oshkosh, oh wait, did you do anything with the school newspaper at Oshkosh?

MJKR: Very minimally.

MB: Was it a big issue at the time, did you have [the newspaper]?

MJKR: I really don't recall.


MB: You said you did journalism and you kind of did it a little bit in college was it more journalism in college writing on your own sort of a thing?

MJKR: Yes, I did not do anything formal or very little formally in college.

MB: Did you participate in any other extracurricular activities in college?

MJKJ: I participated in Alethean sorority.

MB: Oh okay, and what was that like?

MJKR: It was a good social event or whatever thing. That was it.

MB: Was it, I know sororities now a day have bid day and inviting new members?


MJKR: It was totally different then it is now.

MB: It is totally different?

MJKR: Yes.

MB: Okay so when you were brought into the sorority what was it kind of like?

MJKR: I don't even think that is really too relevant because it was just we gathered together and we did outreach activities then.

MB: So more of social activities?

MJKR: But it was nothing that can be compared to the nationally sorority system today.

MB: I am not a part of the sorority but I know some people [that are a part of the sorority], and it's very nice what they do and everything. Was yours more volunteer or social like you said?

MJKR: It was volunteer. We did outreach activities and social activities.

MB: Did you participate in volunteer activities around Oshkosh?

MJKR: Yes, doing different things for Christmas and Thanksgiving. Tutoring.


MB: Did you tutor, I know you tutored with your sorority, but did you tutor for any other subjects that you had?


MB: You kind of said about Christmas and Thanksgiving you did stuff for that, but did you still go home for Christmas and Thanksgiving breaks?

MJKR: Oh yes, because we were so close.

MB: And did you say you got two weeks for Christmas break?

MJKR: I think that is what it was, I really don't remember.

MB: So with the sorority we will kind of go into campus life, what was that when you went to school?

MJKR: Well, there were social activities, sporting activities, athletic events, 37:00musical things. It was just what was of interest. Particularly, I was very interested in the political activities on campus, and got involved into politics in Wisconsin at the time of the JFK (John F. Kennedy) and Hubert Humphrey era of their running for presidency. Because they visited the campus and we did political work with them.

MB: So your weekends were pretty much busy?

MJKR: Weekends were pretty much taken with debate trips from about October to February.

MB: So the political things you were talking about, those were kind of done during the week as well?

MJKR: Whenever they set in.

MB: So with your 18 credits you participated in all the activities on campus as 38:00well. With your triple major, were other people in the same boat as you, were there people you could kind of relate to with your triple major?

MJKR: I don't know what their majors were.

MB: No, I mean with campus. I know now we have study groups now like if people are kind of in the same major as you they could help you or were you by yourself?

MJKR: You were pretty much on your own.

MB: Well you did say you met your husband in your class.

MJKR: In my economics class. I think my preparation in college classes did not 39:00give me the background that I have used the most, it was the debate and public speaking programs gave me the best ability to analyze things and do public speaking in my life after college. I went on to become chairmen of the second largest community college in the United States and to be chairmen of the board, and I have been very active in community activities here after college and I really believe that my participation in the speech and political science programs at Oshkosh prepared me for those things.

MB: I was just going to ask you about the classes and you thought they helped you but that is very interesting that the debate team that you were in helped you succeed more than your classes actually.


MJKR: Yeah, because we had to learn so many different things to be a class debater.

MB: So this can kind of bring in the question, what kind of student were you in college? Even though you did thrive more off of what you learned in the debate group did you think you still worked really hard like in your studies?

MJKR: Well with the academic standing that I got I had to work hard.

MB: Did you think that was instilled in you that you had to do well no matter what to get a job in the real world?

MJKR: It was just something that I wanted to do for personal pride that I wanted to do a good job.

MB: We can kind of bring that back to the classes, I mean right now it is the first year you take gen eds, is that kind of like how it was when you started?


MJKR: Yes, there was general education courses that we had to take. But again, I'm sure they have changed tremendously throughout the years.

MB: I know one of Gen Ed courses was public speaking, we had to take that in our freshmen year, is that how you guys were too?

MJKR: I think we did have to take a public [speaking], Ms. Evans was our teacher. There were the general eds and then began the more specific studies for our majors.

MB: Did you feel as though Ms. Evans really made you more excited for public speaking?

MJKR: No. Dr. William White and Dr. Jackson were my two inspirations at Oshkosh.


MB: I was just going to ask about the professors. Those were your two professors that really changed your life you would say?

MJKR: Dr. White was my great influence in life and Dr. Sherman Gunderson from economics too.

MB: If you don't mind me asking, why did they have such an impact on your life?

MJKR: Well they just always made me feel that I wanted to do better to stretch to intellectually challenge me and to introduce me to new possibilities in life.

MB: So the one teacher you said was your economics professor was that the same class you met your husband as well?


MB: Do you know if your husband had that same effect with that teacher or was 43:00… [it just you]?

MJKR: Yes, he was very impressed with him. He was an excellent professor.

MB: What did your husband go into? What major?

MJKR: He went on and left Oshkosh after his sophomore year and went to the University of Wisconsin and the University of Chicago, and we moved out to Washington after we got married.

MB: Okay so did he go to Madison his junior year and Chicago his senior year.

MJKR: Junior and senior year he went to Madison and University of Chicago for his masters.

MB: So you guys have your four years, but not anything past that?

MJKR: I did graduate work at Georgetown University here in Washington and my husband got his masters from the University of Chicago.


MB: So we talked about campus life, and your gen eds, is there anyone else you met that put a lasting impression of you at college? That you would say?

MJKR: I can't think that those were the ones that were most impact on my life.

MB: So you wouldn't say you are close with anyone like you are with the people from Kaukauna where you meet up every fall?


MB: So you are your spouse married in Washington then?

MJKR: No, we married in Wisconsin and then moved out to Washington.

MB: Was that right after …

MJKR: 1961. A year after we graduated from college.

MB: Okay, then we can kind of move in and talk about life after college.


MJKR: Okay.

MB: We are moving along. So you went to college, got married, and moved out to Washington?

MJKR: Correct.

MB: What was your job that you did at Washington?

MJKR: Well at Washington I taught some, and then raised 4 children close together and then went on to outreach ministry for pastoral associates at a very large catholic church with a lot of legislative work, community work, etc.

MB: You said you have 4 kids, were they all boys or all girls?

MJKR: Our daughter who is a patent law associate, our son who is the director of 46:00the national counterterrorism center, our second son is a colonel in the army in Germany, and our third son is a museum technician in Fairfax.

MB: Very impressive what they are doing in their lives. I know when you said before that your parents wanted you to go to college, were you the kind of the same with them, were you pushing them to go to college or was it kind of their choice?

MJKR: It was their choice.

MB: And did all four go to college as well?

MJKR: Yes.

MB: Did anyone go to Oshkosh?

MJKR: One went to Stevens Point.

MB: Oh really? That is pretty close to where I live right now.


MJKR: He was in the ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Corps) program in Stevens Point.

MB: ROTC? What is that program again?

MJKR: Army program.

MB: So did he have to go over for training and everything?

MJKR: Right.

MB: So then you taught while raising 4 kids, how long did you continue teaching?

MJKR: I didn't teach. Just for a couple years, and then went on after the children got into school, then went on to be in community work and then in a large catholic church as a pastoral associate for outreach.

MB: Explain what a typical day would be like as you were working for an outreach?


MJKR: Well, I was dealing with one to one meets with people coming into the church wanting assistance, I was dealing with people with death and dying issues, spiritual aspects of hospice, dealing with housing issues, finding affordable housing for people, finding housing for people who needed housing in winter, and medical help for people, educational programs where people needed assistance in getting their children in the right educational programs. It was a little bit of everything.

MB: I mean what you were kind of saying there it was like you were a counselor almost?


MJKR: Counselor and Doer.

MB: Did you get that job because of the majors you were in, like public speaking and everything?

MJKR: Because of my interest in community activities, both my husband and I are very involved in community activities, he was in the city council here for twenty years.  

MB: So then you were in the community, where you were working was right in your community?

MJKR: Yes, in our area and some of it state wide.

MB: Okay, then you are close with everyone?

MJKR: Then worked on the community college board for 12 years.

MB: How you were working in the community, did that remind you of back home?

MJKR: Well, it was much larger and more encompassing, and I didn't really have a 50:00flavor for what was happening at home at that point.

MB: You just weren't interested in being…

MJKR: It was not a case of not being interested it was a case of just… I was very involved in the community here, therefore, I did not stretch my brain there.

MB: I totally understand that. Do you think, because kind of what you were saying about you, not your siblings, but your daughter and sons, do you think what your job was and what your husband's job was, do you think that impacted them to do what [they wanted to do]?

MJKR: Yes, definitely. They were brought up in a family that was very involved 51:00in the community, and our kids were student representatives to school board they were president of a student body of a large high school.

MB: Were any of them on the debate team?


MB: Was there school smaller like yours was?

MJKR: Oh no, they were 500 in a class here.

MB: Yeah that is much bigger.


MB: So you are not living in Washington now?

MJKR: We live in Fairfax, Virginia. 14 miles outside of Washington.

MB: So you have not been living in Fairfax is it?



MB: You haven't been living there since you got there?

MJKR: We are here for 54 years.

MB: Okay, so you have been living there almost your whole entire time.

MJKR: Since we moved out here when we got married in Fairfax.

MB: Fairfax. Is that just a suburb?

MJKR: It is a suburban community?

MB: So there are no schools around there, anywhere?

MJKR: What do you mean?

MB: Is there any schooling around your area?

MJKR: Oh yes, we have some of the most outstanding schools in the country. We have Fairfax county schools which are outstanding schools. Thomas Jefferson High School for science is either #1 or #2 in the country. Our kids are in very 53:00challenging academic situations.

MB: Your children were?


MB: Oh for picking what kind of school they were going to go to?

MJKR: Well, the high schools you were told by districts, you know by community. The city of Fairfax has its high school and where you lived determined where you went to high school.

MB: Are you still working as …

MJKR: No, I am not. I am retired.

MB: Okay, you are retired. Is your husband as well?

MJKR: Yes.

MB: Okay, and I remember kind of earlier in the interview you said you worked as a chairman that was what you were doing with the church and everything?

MJKR: I worked as a pastoral associate with the church, and with the reference to the chairman, I was head of the College Board, community college board. We 54:00had over 80,000 students in our community college.

MB: What community college are you for?

MJKR: Northern Virginia Community College

MB: Oh my goodness, and 80,000?


MB: That is very big for a technical school.

MJKR: It is not just technical. It has liberal arts, workforce development, medical training?

MB: Okay, medical training like EMS?

MJKR: EMS and we grant a degree in nursing. Dental hygienist, [unclear], X ray technology, so it is a very, very broad scope in medical aspects and a general liberal arts and the more technical, definitely more computer programs.


MB: You were chairman for this college?

MJKR: I was head of the community college board.

MB: So what kind of things did you do for that?

MJKR: Conduct meetings, do lobbying with the state legislature, give speeches, hire presidents for our college, broad scope of things, develop curriculum because there is always a need for new curriculum.

MB: So now you are retired?

MJKR: Yes.

MB: What kind of things do you do now?

MJKR: Volunteer work in the community, still active in political activities in 56:00the community.

MB: What kind of volunteer activities because I know in college you worked with Thanksgiving and Christmas things like you said.

MJKR: Things like that and with the homeless, and then issues within our city. Guarding, zoning, and redevelopment.

MB: Do you volunteer with your husband?


MB: I remember you saying about where your children live, do any of them still live by you?

MJKR: Well, one son is in [unclear], Germany a colonel in the army, and the others live in northern Virginia.

MB: Fairfax is more East, is it?


MJKR: It is 14 miles outside of Washington D.C, west of Washington.

MB: I had some questions of how you participated in the community but you already answered those very well. Do you have any more involvement in Oshkosh since you have left?

MJKR: No, I was one of the Co-Chairman when we celebrated our 50th anniversary of graduation, but since then nothing.

MB: Yes, I actually researched about you and saw that in the news. Did you come back for that then?

MJKR: Oh yes.

MB: You were a chairman even though you were in… [Virginia]?


MJKR: Yeah, we did it by phone and the computer.

MB: You were chairman for that as well, what was that like?

MJKR: It was a lot of organizational things and it was all accommodated by conference calls or computer.

MB: Were you asked to be chairman or did you apply for it?

MJKR: I don't quite recall how it came about, I really don't know.

MB: When have you stopped becoming chairman?

MJKR: Of the College Board?

MB: Yes.

MJKR: Ten years ago.

MB: That was just kind of…

MJKR: Because there is a little to how long you can do that. That was the 59:00community college system. We had term limits.

MB: You had what?

MJKR: We had term limits.

MB: That makes sense. What would you think of Oshkosh now?

MJKR: I think it does a fine job of educating students, both for the students that are living on campus and for the students that wish to commute. I think that serves a wonderful need and it certainly has broaden its perspective. When I was there it was mostly for students for northeastern Wisconsin. Now I know the international component is a big part of it and students from other states 60:00and from all parts of Wisconsin. So the whole perspective of it has changed.

MB: Would you think that is a good thing?

MJKR: Oh yes. We have to grow we cannot stand still.

MB: Yes, I agree.

MJKR: What year are you?

MB: I am a sophomore, and I recently just got accepted to the UW Oshkosh nursing program.

MJKR: Oh wonderful, congratulations.

MB: Thank you so much.

MJKR: That is a wonderful program.

MB: Thank you, I know I am very excited to start here. I think that actually wraps up our interview.


MJKR: Oh very good.

MB: Do you have any last minute things you would like to say?

MJKR: No, I think that is it. Oshkosh gave me what I needed to go out into life and for that I am grateful. I enjoyed my time there, and that's about it!

MB: Thank you so much.

MJKR: Well good luck with your nursing program.

MB: Thank you so much, bye Mary Jo. Thank you!

MJKR: Okay, bye.


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