I was born in Minneapolis in 1945, the middle son of three boys. I grew up on the south end of the city before it was fully developed. Our house was located across the street from a large undeveloped wooded and brushy area. In time, these lands were developed into two schools and a park. This area became the center of our younger lives.
After construction of the schools and park, these areas became our neighborhood football and baseball fields. During the winter months the park had our ice skating and hockey rinks. Riding bikes to shore fish city lakes in the warmer days and skating became my favorite childhood times. I continued skating up until this January when a fall on the ice at the Verona Arena caused me to pause my regular Wednesday skate for a few months.
I attended Minneapolis public schools, graduating from Washburn High in 1963. What made my school experience different was the kids my age in our area and I attended seven different schools even though we didnít move. Why so many schools? Because our area was new homes and classroom space was limited. The city bussed us wherever they could find a classroom. This made for a close-knit neighborhood.
Like many kids I worked part time jobs during school. I delivered papers as well as bagged groceries and worked in a garden center. Starting after eighth grade I spent five summers with the owner of a small resort in northern Minnesota. My duties included a mix of routine jobs interspersed with swimming, volleyball, fishing, and other activities. Occasionally I received float plane rides when an extra seat was available on local sightseeing flights. I loved that. After high school I attended the University of Minnesota and graduated in forestry. It was a terrific program that brought me to Wisconsin.
I met my wife Denise in the hall next to her locker in high school. I was a junior and she was a sophomore. Although she doesnít remember that day, I certainly do. We didnít start dating until her senior year when I was starting college. We dated for four years and have been married 55 years.
We have two sons, both married. Michael and Janice live in the Cottage Grove area a few miles from our house in Fitchburg. Derek and Karen live on Spring Lake southeast of Wautoma.
I have always loved to travel. When our sons were younger, we rented a cabin for two weeks each summer. A few years later I started canoe tripping in the Quetico with buddies. Canoe tripping became an annual tradition that grew to more than 30 trips.
Shortly after starting canoe tripping, I began traveling to other countries. Many trips were with Denise along with Bob (former DNR) and Kappy Bredemus.
This passion and good fortune have brought me to more than 30 countries. Some of my favorite travels have included Turkey, the Serengeti and other parks in Tanzania (2 trips), Machu Picchu in Peru, and Cuba (3 sister city trips). Our absolute favorite trip was to Alaska for much of one summer. We would both take that trip again.
Through the years I have also managed to visit all the states except Hawaii. Even though it wasnít on any bucket list, I would still like to find a way to visit the last one.
We arrived in Wisconsin in 1968 and landed in Kewaskum. My DNR career had begun. My first assignment was a park management trainee on the Northern Unit Kettle Moraine State Forest (NU).
I transferred to Lake Kegonsa State Park in the spring of 1969. This was a newer state park. Its lands and facilities were being transformed from a farm into outdoor recreation amenities. In 1971 I was temporarily assigned as acting manager of the Governor Dodge State Park work unit for a year and a half during DNR reorganization.
So how did I start in parks but end up in the land acquisition program? The foundation started a couple of months after I arrived at the NU. My training mentor Dennis Konkol asked if I was interested in preparing an appraisal of lands for possible DNR purchase. I accepted the assignment even though I had no clue what was involved with an appraisal. A couple months later I was off to a two-week real estate appraisal course held at Indiana University. Other appraisal and negotiation training followed, including another two weeks at IU. Occasional appraisal assignments arrived in short order.
The 60ís and early 70ís were the beginning of DNRís rapidly expanding land purchase program. State funding increased with ORAP and eventually Stewardship. The department formed a Bureau of Real Estate and recruited land agents and bureau staff. I transferred into the new program in 1973 as the Madison Area land agent. I was promoted to review appraiser in 1982, a statewide position working out of the bureau. In 1990 I transferred back to Nevin as the regionís real estate program manager. Through reorganization, our regional team was eventually restructured to include staff in land acquisition, realty records, land planning, and facilities programs.
I retired from DNR in 2000 with 31Ĺ years of service. Shortly after, our oldest son Michael and I started Stone Appraisals, LLC, a rural property appraisal business. Our market niche was quite narrow. We focused primarily on fee title and conservation.
Some favorite DNR purchases in which I had some involvement included almost all of Governor Nelson State Park, Lower Wisconsin State Riverway, Ishnala addition to Mirror Lake State Park, lake access sites, several state bike trails, and just about any natural area property.
Over the years I was fortunate to work throughout Wisconsin with talented and motivated people. I realize how lucky I have been to have many lasting friendships evolve from these work contacts. There is no better example of these than ARC and its members.