May 29, 2013


Norris Abts ’58 (Fountain City, Minn.) was recently honored by Minnesota State College-Southeast Technical as it named its new transportation facility after the Winona State alumnus. The 38,000-square-foot building, which houses truck driving, auto body collision technology, and automotive technology programs was named for the man who “laid the foundation 53 years ago for the college’s transportation programs.”


Judith Miller ’67 (Fairmont, Minn.) retired in June 2010 after working as an elementary teacher and librarian in St. James, Renville, and Fairmont.

Ronald L. Johnson ‘69 (Louisville, Ky.) retired on April 1, 2012 after serving on the staff of the Louisville Chapter of Habitat for Humanity for 12 years. He earned a second bachelor’s in interior design at the University of Louisville and worked in architecture and pharmaceutical design, including starting his own business in 1987. Wanting to give back, he joined Habitat in 2000 as a construction supervisor and eventually as director of construction.

Allan Billings ’72 (Seneca, S.C.) has been inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame (Iowa Chapter). He wrestled for four years at WSU and went on to coach wrestling, including 18 seasons at Belle Plaine, Iowa. Allan coached 122 state qualifiers, 57 state place winners, and seven state champions. He also led several U.S.A. teams, including the 2007 Junior World Team. He was also a school principal and administrator. In retirement, he continues to volunteer coach in South Carolina.

Cheryl (Nihart-Tomforde) Glander ’72 (Lake City, Minn.) has retired from ISD 813 after 33 years of teaching first grade. She now does volunteer work and paperwork for her husband’s latest business, Glander Sand & Gravel.

Daniel Picha ’79  (Minneapolis, Minn.) was awarded the 2012 Minnesota Middle School Teacher of the Year/Teacher Excellence Award. He taught for 21 years in Winona before moving to Anoka-Hennepin, where he taught for ten years. Dan is now retired from Minnesota but teaching for a one year adventure in Alaska along with his wife Angela Arellano-Sanchez.

Garry Watts ’80 (Winona)  been named president of Winona Agency. He joined Winona Agency in 1991 and previously served as vice president, overseeing the company’s commercial property and casualty insurance division.

Rhonda Puetz ’85 (Winona) has been promoted to manager of customer services and key accounts for PlastiComp, Inc. in Winona. She has been with the company since it formed in 2003. Rhonda, who graduated with a business degree from WSU, has more than 20 years of experience in the thermoplastics industry.

Marvel Betchwars ’86 (Rollingstone, Minn.) will retire as partner from Hawkins, Ash, Baptie. She has been with the accounting firm for 26 years. Her practice involved tax return preparation and tax research, for entities including individuals, corporations, estates, trusts and nonprofit organizations.

Colleen Crownharts ’89 (Brooklyn Center, Minn.) is a health unit coordinator in the Birth Center at Regions Hospital.


Dan Vrieze ’91 (Eyota, Minn.) was awarded the 2012 Outstanding Educator Award by the Rochester Area Math Science Partnership. He teaches math at Dover-Eyota High School. He uses several innovative teaching techniques that have led Dover-Eyota to the highest math MCA results in the district and ACT scores that are consistently higher than state and national averages. Dan has also worked with colleagues in the development of high school math curriculum materials.

LeAnne (Ladewig) Morey ’92 (Minnesota City, Minn.) joined the Winona Health Behavioral Health staff. She earned her bachelor’s in management information systems at WSU and physician assistant MS at Des Moines University. Her professional experience includes the University of Minnesota Medical Center and, most recently, Seasons Center for Behavioral Health in Spencer, Iowa.

Chad Althoff ’93 (Coon Rapids, Minn.) writes in that he is currently working as a compensation manager for Ameriprise Financial. His wife, Tresa (Marsh) ’93 is a pharmacist for HealthPartners. The couple have two boys, Mason (12) and Evan (9).

Cory Whalen ’94 (Saint Paul, Minn.) has been named one of the Best Lawyers in America 2013. Corey is a partner and shareholder in the firm Sieben, Grose, Von Holtum & Carey. He was selected for his work in plaintiff product liability litigation.

Wendy Styba ’94 (Winona) married Jeff Winger on October 13, 2012. She works as a child care provider while Jeff works at HyVee and Winona Air Expediting.

Erik Thostenson ’95 (Newark, Del.) has received a prestigious National Science Foundation grant. An assistant professor at the University of Delaware’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, with a secondary appointment in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Erik will investigate a new approach for multi-scale hybrid composites with functionally graded material properties.

Paul Eberhardt ’97 (Iowa Falls, Iowa) has been named basketball coach at the University of Wisconsin-Superior. He returns to coaching after a two-year hiatus. He has coached at WSU, University of Wisconsin-River Falls, and Scottsdale (Ariz.) Community College. He also worked at Ellsworth Community College in Iowa as dean of students and athletics director.

Ellen (Bateman) ’97 and John Naeser ’97 (Franklin, Wis.) announce the birth of their daughter, Harper Grace, born on September 6, 2012.

Jeremy Vangness ’97 (Rochester, Minn.) and wife Kerri had their first son, Jackson Dennis, on December 10, 2012. They say that Jackson has been a great baby, already sleeping through the night.

Sunni (Schulz) Wheeler ’97 (Elk Grove, Ill.) is founder and head coach of Starfire Elite All Star Cheer team and just won her first state title. Sunni was a WSU cheerleader from 1995 to 1997. The mass communication major is a freelance writer and will publish her first book this year, a youth fiction offering about cheerleaders. Her stepdaughter is also a cheerleader, dancer, and gymnast.

Jodi (Overson) Olson ’98 (Minneiska, Minn.) has joined Catholic Charities of Winona as a pregnancy, parenting, and adoption social worker. She says that she loves social work because “you have so many different areas to work in!” Jodi continues, “Between work, my husband and two boys, life is always busy, but fun.”

Laura Pettersen ’99 (Winona) has been hired as director of Minnesota services for Family & Children’s Center. She earned her bachelor’s in elementary education at WSU and master’s in family studies and human sciences at Kansas State University. Laura has 14 years of experience in youth development, non-profit management, and education.


Jane Odberg ’00 (Midlothian, Va.) has been named vice president for communications at Diamond Healthcare Corporation. Her specialities include healthcare communications, public relations, brand management, and marketing. She also manages the company’s websites and designs collateral materials. Jane earned her bachelor’s in mass communication at WSU and MS in administration at Central Michigan University. She joined Diamond in 2007.

Brad LaPlante ’01 (Senatobia, Miss.) has been named head football coach at Northwest Mississippi Community College in Senatobia. He’s the youngest head coach in the program’s history. He was formerly coach at Manvel High School. He has also coached at Rochester (Minn.) Community and Technical College, where he won numerous coach of the year awards. He and wife, Christie, have two children, Carson and Cashton.

Jessica (Calvert) ’02 and Cristen Marish ’04 (Winona) welcomed triplets Jackson, Alaina, and Emilie (held here by big brother, Rylan) on October 29, 2012. The future alums will join a grandfather, three uncles, and an aunt who have all graduated from Winona State. Jessica reports that her family has been “fortunate to have some wonderful volunteers from Winona State’s Nursing Department help us with the babies. The volunteers come to our house and help, feed, change, and hold the triplets.”

Shelley (Krusko) Hexom ’02 (Sioux City, Iowa) and husband Fred welcomed their second child, Madeline Claire on January 29. Madeline joins big brother Alex, who is 2 years old. Shelley was a mass communications major at WSU.

Stefanie (Steimann) ’02 and Jeremy Schussler ’02 (Savage, Minn.) welcomed their first child, Miles Cory, on March 6, 2012.

Paul Deutsch ’03 (Westby, Wis.) earned his MS in counselor education and has been working in the mental health field ever since. Paul and his colleagues recently opened Center Point Counseling Services Cooperative, the nation’s first workers cooperative focused on quality and affordable mental health solutions. He says as a founding member he has “drawn on my WSU education every step of the way.”

Maria Kujawa ’03 (Harmony, Minn.) married Aaron Klingsheim on January 19. Maria works at Valley Christian Center while Aaron is self-employed at Stateline Acres Farm in Lime Springs, Iowa.

Brent Schmidt ’03 (North St. Paul, Minn.) received his master’s in physical education from the University of Houston, and is currently an assistant baseball coach at Texas A&M University-Kingsville. His wife, Erin (Funnemark) Schmidt ’03 received her master’s in counseling from Lamar University, and is currently a second grade teacher in Pearland ISD, enjoying her 10th year in education and recent teacher of the year honors.

Tory-Kale Schulz ’03 (Houston, Minn.) is a new teacher at Caledonia Elementary School and also advises the National Honor Society. His NHS students recently raised more than $4,000 for Project Moove to provide resources for the school’s milk fund for elementary students.

Beth (Bell) Stecher ’03 (Coralville, Iowa) welcomed her third child, Alexander James, along with husband Jim. Alexander joins sisters Olivia (5) and Hannah (3). Beth is a stay-at-home mom while Jim completes a fellowship in radiology at the University of Iowa. Beth recently returned to campus to play in the alumni soccer game.

Sara Wright (Greenlee) ’03 (Minnetonka, Minn.) has joined fellow alum Rob Thoresen ’08 at Rugby Athletic, a division of M.A. Apparel and Promotions. Sara played rugby at WSU and completed an intership with the USOC and also worked as director of communications for USA Rugby. Rob also played rugby at Winona State and coaches the men’s club team.

Megan Amsden ’04 (Red Wing, Minn.) married Patrick Ramaker on June 2, 2012. Megan works for the Benedictine Living Center as director of marketing and fund development.

Andrea (Fredrickson) Hanson ’04 (Goodhue, Minn.) reports that she has “started a standards based grading movement in my school that has helped to increase student achievement.”

Matt Johnson ’04 and Jaclynn Larson ’12 (Plainview, Minn.) married on October 6, 2012. Jaclynn works at Mayo Clinic while Matt also works at Mayo and the Wisconsin Army National Guard.

Jeffrey O’Donnell ’04 (Rushford, Minn.) married Chelsea Kopperud on June 30, 2012. Jeffrey works at Financial Services in Rushford and Winona. Chelsea works at Zehren Dental in Winona.

Matthew Roth ’04 (La Crosse, Wis.) has joined Mayo Clinic Health System as a nurse anesthetist. He earned his nursing degree at WSU and CRNA at the Franciscan Healthcare School of Anesthesia. Prior to joining Mayo, he was a CRNA at Gundersen Lutheran Medical Center.

Ty Breitlow ’05 (Hilbert, Wis.) has been named high school principal in the Chilton, Wis., school district at the age of 31.

Amanda (Messick) Christiansen ’05 (Winona) had a daughter, Adalynn Jane, born on February 28.

Candice Guenther (Slaby) ’05 (Galesville, Wis.) and husband Mike welcomed son Jordan Jonathan, born December 4, 2012.

Brian Hynes ’05 and Kelsey Schooley ‘10 (Burnsville, Minn.) married July 28, 2012. Brian is a sales consultant at AmeriPride. Kelsey is a sourcing assistant at General Mills.

Anne Jungen ’05 (Wauwatosa, Wis.) has received the Wisconsin Newspaper Association’s Golden Gavel Award for legal reporting. Cited specifically was Anne’s coverage of the acquittal of a La Crosse County sheriff’s deputy in a fatal vehicular accident last year. Anne covers the courts for the La Crosse Tribune.

Matt Schaub ’04 and Becky Koehler ’05 (Phoenix, Ariz.) married on October 27, 2012. Mat earned his bachelor’s in computer science and master’s at George Washington University. He works for Lockheed Martin as a software engineer. Becky earned her bachelor’s in medical technology and works for Banner Health System as a general medical technologist.

Amanda Schmick ’06 and Kyle Luebeck ’06 (Apple Valley, Minn.) married on April 21.

Cassie (Lynch) Stratton ’06 (Winona) and husband Jesse welcomed a son, Brady Alan, on December 1, 2012.

Tyne Bodenburg ’07 (Apple Valley, Minn.) married Justin Grefe on February 14. Tyne earned her bachelor’s in communication arts and literature and works as a secondary English teacher with the Goodhue Public Schools. Justin is a purchasing agent at Northern Tier Energy.

Andy Gappa ’07 (Winona) and his wife, Beth, had daughter Aubrey Elizabeth on December 7, 2012.

Timothy Ranis ’07 (Onalaska, Wis.), who currently teaches in Holmen, was a presenter at the Closing the Gap-Assistive Technology Conference last October.

Heather Gosse ’08/’12 is the new associate director for Alumni Relations at Winona State. Her new position marks a return to her alma mater:  Heather was a freshman admissions counselor at WSU for four years, beginning in 2008. She was also advisor for the WSU Ambassadors and was the liaison between Admissions and the Inclusion & Diversity Office. Previously, Heather was a future center advisor with La Crosse Promise, Inc., where she worked directly with students as they planned for post-secondary education. She earned her bachelor’s in paralegal and master’s in counselor education at WSU.

Ryan Young ’08 (Baltimore, Md.) married Amy Riedl on August 4, 2012. Ryan works at GE Aviation and is attending graduate school at the University of Southern Mississippi.

Katie (Mareachen) Collins ’09 (Savage, Minn.)  welcomed Ellie Leora Collins on October 27, 2012.

Samantha (Duellman) Justin ’09 (Fountain City, Wis.) has been promoted to senior associate at Hawkin, Ash, Baptie. The accounting and business administration alumna joined the company in 2010.

Brittany Lanigan ’09 (Buffalo, Minn.) married Dustin Kowalewski on February 22. Brittany works at Arsys in Rochester.

Andrew ’10 and Kacie ’12 Lovas (Winona) welcome daughter Kaylee Belle, born on December 22, 2012.

Kimberly LaValla ’11 and Matthew Halfond ’11 (Saint Charles, Minn.) were married on April 6. She works as a substitute teacher; he works for Enterprise Rent-A-Car.

Lauren Speca ’11 and Kodey Simon ’12 (Minnetonka, Minn.) were married on October 6, 2012. Kodey is employed by Royalty Exteriors, LLC as a manager and Lauren works at the Institute for Low Back & Neck Care as an RN.

Jessica (Hinrichs) Brink ’12 (Savage, Minn.) recently graduated with her specialist degree for a K-12 principal license in Education Leadership. She teaches Spanish and has two daughters, born in March 2010 and November 2011.

Molly Caton ’12 (Plymouth, Minn.) has been hired by the Center for Disease Control’s Health Associates Program.

Danielle Yeadon ’12 (Stewartville, Minn.) married Alexander Strain on August 11, 2012. Danielle works as a laboratory assistant at Mayo Clinic, while Alexander is employed as a journalist at People’s Press in Owatonna.