After 4 years at SHS, I thought life
couldn't get any better. Isn't that a hoot! Florida State University
opened new frontiers for the next four years, not only as a Marching
Chief, but also the array of academic choices. Graduated majoring in
Spanish and German (my heritage) and then did my student teaching at
that other high school in Sarasota. Uh-oh. Now what? Imbued with
President Kennedy's idealism, I joined the Peace Corps, a real life
altering experience. After training in Puerto Rico, I spent 3 remarkable
years in western Panama building a school with the School Partnership
Program. Also traveled through almost all of Latin America, mostly by
bus and train. Talk about gaining a new perspective of the world.
December, 1968, back to reality and a world that had profoundly changed
during my absence - wild social departures from what had been our high
school norm, and with Viet Nam raging and the new social mores, I wasn't
at all comfortable in my own culture.
Thank God for Joanne, my college sweetheart (Clearwater HS, '61)! We had many shared experiences, including Peace Corps, and quickly decided we would face the future together. After teaching in Sarasota schools for a semester in 1969, we were married in Clearwater, and set off for the University of Wisconsin, Madison. We formed an instant family, bringing a 10 year old boy back from our honeymoon in Panama. It was great having a teacher/wife who could put me through graduate school! It was a natural for me to pursue Ibero-American Studies. Graduation presented another reality check. Now what? We loved Wisconsin. I had always dreamed of living in the north; this was the moment.
Got a plum job with Madison Public Schools, teaching advanced level Spanish. Joanne taught ESL, working for many years with the Hmong community, then ending her career teaching the children of foreign students at UW. Yep! For 33 years, I taught Advanced Placement courses, and loved every minute of it. Madison turned out to be a wonderful place to raise a family. Our two children, Kristian, 39, and Heather, 35, still call it home.
Kristian, an insurance actuary, and his wife, Janet, have provided us with two grandchildren that insure us of our continuing ties to the Badger State. Our daughter has followed in our footsteps - she's a teacher in Madison. Cheeseheads, all! Go Pack!
Retirement in 2003 rekindled the gypsy mentality of our younger years. We sold everything, bought a truck and a fifth wheel (RV), and we have been full-time on the road since. We do spend most of each spring and summer in Wisconsin, but the rest of the year, we're "on the road again." Our first 2 winters were in Orlando, working for the Mouse. He utilized our bilingual abilities to the max; we had a great experience. But the glitz wore thin, and the next year we headed to Texas. Now in our fifth winter in the Rio Grande Valley, we are confirmed winter-Texans. No snowbirds down here, only winter-Texans. Life is good.
The future will surely bring transition to normality again, but for now, we are having a Texas-sized barrel of fun. If any of you are in Wisconsin when the weather is sane, or in deep south Texas during the winter, contact us by email; we'd love to get-together.