A Fourth Generation Wisconsinite
When she was 13 years old, my great grandmother emigrated from Ireland to provide for her family that she left behind. She survived in Chicago on her own as a housemaid until she met and married my great grandfather, also an Irish immigrant.
When he died of Spanish influenza, she was left with two young sons to raise and so she left Chicago to provide a more suitable life for her sons in rural Southwest Wisconsin. There, her eldest son met my grandmother, whose parents had emigrated from Germany to farm the rich land found in the midwest.
Their stories always filled me with awe at how hard they worked to provide for their families both here and back home. Their values run strong in my family.
I am a proud 4th generation Wisconsite, born and raised in Prairie du Chien. I firmly believe in the strength of Wisconsin values: work hard, treasure your education, act with integrity, and take responsibility for yourself and your actions. These are the values my parents instilled in me and my 11 brothers and sisters.
My Family’s Values
My father, a WWII veteran, ran a full service filling station and delivered bulk fuel oil to support our family. His work day began at 6:00 a.m. and ended when he closed the station at 9:00 p.m. Often times he was called in the middle of the night to fill people’s furnace fuel tanks, so his day never really ended.
My mom kept the books for my dad and for the grade school and high school to help the family financially. She sewed all of our clothes and cooked amazing meals, often times from produce and meats that my father accepted in lieu of payment.
All of us kids at one time or another worked at the filling station to help my dad and to earn some money of our own. My specialty at the station was washing cars and cleaning the restrooms.
Living My Values
I’ve worked my whole life to live up to the example they set. At age 10, I started working and saving money for my education. I babysat, sold Christmas cards, and mowed lawns. I continued to work part-time jobs all through high school and college.
After I received my degree from UW-La Crosse, I taught for 35 years in the state of Wisconsin. I taught English and Reading for most of my career at Big Foot Union High School. I also coached volleyball, track, and gymnastics, implemented and led the school’s literacy initiative, advised various organizations, kept score for various sporting events, took tickets at a variety of school functions, taught summer school and worked part-time summer jobs. I earned a Master of Education degree as a Reading Specialist while my husband and I raised our two daughters in Walworth, Wisconsin.
I loved teaching in a small rural high school where I got to know my students and their families and share in the work we all did to build a strong community for our kids, and I am proud of the life I built for my family. In retirement, I have continued to work as a mentor, helping teachers with license renewal, and as a substitute teacher.
I not only served community as a teacher, but I invested my time in this district by serving on the Walworth Park Commission, coaching t-ball, and organizing fundraisers. I am a member of Blackhawk Trout Unlimited, Geneva Lake AAUW, and Concerned Citizens of Walworth.
I’m just like you: working, living my life with integrity, trying to make my parents proud.
I absolutely love this state. I cherish our natural resources, love our rural communities, take great pride in our outstanding public school system and our state university system.
Wisconsin used to be a national leader for what we all covet: clean air and water, a world-class education from Kindergarten to University, a strong tradition of supporting workers, and a transparent government. In the past decade, these things seem to no longer be a priority for our current elected officials. The bitter partisanship that we are all sick of in Washington, DC has trickled down to Madison. Too many representatives in Madison are worried about their political careers and not enough about the well being of our state. We need representatives who aren’t afraid to go against party leaders or special interest groups. We need representatives who will stand for all residents by cooperating with others and truly making the needs of Wisconsin the top priority.