Where Are They Now?
Thirty-five local icons and how they made history
For what boils down to an essential snapshot of our city every month, we pack a lot into every issue of Madison Magazine. That’s the first thing we discovered all over again when we went paging through past issues, reminiscing about this story or that, in preparation for our thirty-fifth anniversary.
We delve into controversies—remember Monona Terrace and the caucus scandals? We take readers into the heads of entrepreneurs, governors and playwrights. We pay attention to education in Madison classrooms. We cover design in homes, civic buildings and businesses. And breakthroughs in biotechnology, glass ceilings and addiction treatment.
For thirty-five years, our pages have reflected the myriad cultural changes, the exploding population growth in the city and the suburbs, and the companies and institutions—changing or venerable or struggling to reinvent themselves.
Most of all, though, we have written about the people who have influenced Madison through the years. Madison Magazine covered the rise of women and people of color into leadership roles in civic organizations, businesses and government. More than a dozen issues devoted a swath of pages to the people who were trying to make Madison lakes cleaner, healthier and more appealing. We reported on University of Wisconsin–Madison students and leaders, on its past and future, on its sports teams and the geniuses who brought scientific breakthroughs to the world from campus labs and the University Research Park. And we touted the brilliant academics and innovators at Edgewood College, Madison College, high schools and pre-schools.
We featured profiles of smart business owners and devoted community organizers. Writers, artists, doctors, yoga teachers, scientists, famous actors, triathletes, musicians passing through town on tour, ambitious politicians—these folks and many others ended up on our pages.
While some of our issues contained harrowing tales of unsolved murders, and others reflected the panic that came with AIDS, our archives are also a record of all that was sublime, once upon a time, in Madison. One of our first issues, heaven help us, contained a feature on “the local disco scene.” Not long after, we reported on the emergence of big, blocky home computers and how everyone was rushing to buy them. We opined on nudity in the arts, buses on State Street and white-collar crime. In our retail listings, we noted which types of credit cards were accepted at which stores. Seriously, that was once a question to which you needed an answer.
We also discovered that, decades after our founding, many things about Madison remain the same: our commitment to locally produced goods, which is depicted in regular tales of farmers’ markets, co-ops and successful entrepreneurships; our pride in innovation, as evidenced by the scores of stories on medicine and technology; our passion for politics; and our love of a good athletic event, as shown through countless profiles on star athletes and teams that made us stand up and cheer.
Over the course of the past thirty-five years, it would be an understatement to say that Madison has seen a steady cast of characters who have motivated, entertained and bewildered their fellow citizens. Best of all, as we realized by leafing through our own back pages, we have had the pleasure of interviewing many of them. So we wondered, where are these people now?
We caught up with thirty-five of them, and they all said that living, working or playing in Madison shaped them, often in fundamental ways. We say, in return for that influence, that they, knowingly or not, helped shape Madison. Each was featured in at least one past issue of the magazine, with many—but probably not all—of those issues noted by name.
Of our thirty-five, there are those we said would go places and, of course, they did. The water-skiing Larsen twins and the rockers of Garbage, for example. Others, like opera singer Kitt Reuter-Foss, haven’t changed much, which we couldn’t be happier about. Some, like politico Bill McCoshen, were young professionals in a hurry whose stars rose swiftly. Some, like politician Tammy Baldwin, moved steadily up the ladder to lofty heights, and others, like former police chief David Couper, made new and innovative contributions to their old professions. And then there are those who started in one place, moved forward to another, and came full circle back to where they had been in the first place. Yep, Mr. Mayor, we’re looking at you.
Regardless of what their ZIP codes are now, each of these people made their mark on our city’s incredibly rich history. They made us laugh. They frustrated us. They made us think. They inspired us and educated us.
Enjoy looking back and catching up. We sure did.
July 1994, November 1995, November 1996, July 1998, August 1999 (cover), March 2009, July 2012
With a warm manner and killer political instincts, soft-spoken Tammy Baldwin is a Madison native who graduated from West and earned a UW law degree. Only twenty-three when elected to the Dane County Board, Baldwin went on to become the first openly gay woman in the State Assembly and, in 1998, to win election to the U.S. House of Representatives. Late last year she bested Tommy Thompson, long known as the most popular Republican politician in Wisconsin, in a bruising statewide race. The result? Our Ms. Baldwin just broke another record to become the first woman U.S. Senator in Wisconsin history.
Butch Vig, Duke Erikson, Steve Marker
November 1993, November 1994, November 1998, May 2001 (cover)
The band, comprised of three of Madison’s favorite sons and a singer from Scotland named Shirley Manson, is back with a new album, Not Your Kind of People. The band made a special appearance in Madison last August at a new outdoor music festival called “Pondamonium,” located in the Madison Mallards baseball stadium. At press time, Vig, Erikson and Marker—and Manson, of course—had just played the ninety-ninth show on a tour that’s taken them to Europe, Asia and beyond.
“We’re pretty excited that we were gone for seven years and, now that we’re back, I think we have even a bigger fan base,” says Vig, who lives in L.A. with his wife and daughter. “All our shows have been sold out. Some of the people at the shows now probably weren’t even born when our first album came out. And we’ll be playing and they not only know all the words to the new album, they know all the words to the older songs.”
August 1988 (cover), October 1994 (cover)
Al Toon played UW football from 1981 to 1984, during which time he rewrote the program’s entire receiving recordbook. In fact, there was a time when Toon owned the records for most yards, most receptions, and most touchdown catches. He still ranks fourth or fifth in school history in those categories. (And he would rank even higher, but his son, Nick, recently set a couple Badger football records of his own.) The New York Jets picked Toon up in the first round of the 1985 pro football draft; he made All-Pro and Pro-Bowl three times, led the league in receptions, and was named AFC Player of the Year in 1986. Now retired from football, Toon was back in town in plenty of time to watch Nick play for the Badgers and go on to his own pro football career. These days, Toon and his wife, Jane, who are parents of three daughters—Kirby, Molly and Sydney are awesome athletes in their own right as volleyball players—in addition to Nick, live in Madison, where Toon manages investments and sells real estate with Bunbury and Associates.
May 2004, May 2008
During his career in music, Greg Doby sojourned to big markets like Atlanta and New York to make it as a hip-hop producer. Happily, he has always returned to his hometown of Madison. Doby founded and ran Regime Records from 1997 to 2006, working with several local artists and some bigger names. In 2004 he produced Lloyd Banks’ platinum-selling release, “Karma,” and he is still producing today. He was named “most influential” at the 2012 Madison Hip-Hop Awards; this year, he’s also teaching music production at the Boys & Girls Club.
In 2008 when Lisa Bayne was asked to become CEO of Artful Home, the popular business for artists and consumers that today features 14,000 original works from 1,000 artists, the company was losing money on its catalog and online gallery. Also—slight problem—Bayne lived in San Francisco and the company was based in Madison. But she took on the challenge with gusto. Last year, while still commuting between the two cities, Bayne led Artful Home (originally founded by well-known Madisonian Toni Sikes as The Guild in 1985) to its first profitable year, with new revenues driven by artfulhome.com and the company’s venture into selling artist-designed apparel.
Joe Parisi is one of those only-in-Madison people we love to write about. As in, only in Madison would a local suburban kid grow up to become the drummer in one of the most popular homegrown bands the city has ever seen (that would be Honor Among Thieves and back then he was known as “Pepo”) … and then pursue a serious-minded career in politics. Parisi was elected Dane County Clerk in 1996, elected to the State Assembly in 2004 and elected Dane County Executive in 2011. He’s big on jobs, clean energy, safety nets and lakes; perhaps more importantly, Parisi is currently one of the few politicians in the area to receive compliments from both sides of the aisle.
April 1979 (cover), July 1993
Joel Skornicka will say that Madison—“It’s always been home to me”—shaped his life. We will say that his years as mayor from 1979 to 1983 helped shape the city. When Paul Soglin decided not to run for a fourth term, a moderate coalition got behind Skornicka, then a UW–Madison administrator, in an effort to build more bridges with the private sector. The University Research Park was established on his watch, for example. As a result, Madison’s biotech industry had a home base from which to grow. Following his mayoral stint, he served on the University of Wisconsin Foundation and as director of development for University of California, Davis. Skornicka is now retired and living in Madison.
We stopped counting.
Where is he now? Probably right where he was the last time you looked: in the mayor’s office. Soglin was the mayor of Madison when we first wrote about him thirty-five years ago. He’s our city’s mayor, again, today. And he was the mayor between now and then, although not continuously. Check out our online timeline for the complete Soglin saga.
April 1979 (cover)
He writes one of the shortest blogs on the web, but political candidates and voters alike often hang on every word from Jim Rowen. An award-winning veteran reporter for the Milwaukee Journal (and the Journal Sentinel) and Isthmus, Rowen also worked in mayoral administrations in Madison and Milwaukee and taught political science at Edgewood College. In 1979, when his boss, Mayor Paul Soglin, decided not to seek a fourth term, Rowen ran to replace him but was defeated by the more moderate Joel Skornicka. Today he consults as well as freelances for local, state and national publications and advocates for progressive political and environmental causes at thepoliticalenvironment.blogspot.com.
July 1988, January 1989
If you’ve ever played Apples to Apples, you can thank longtime Madison resident John Kovalic. Kovalic got his start in cartooning at the Wisconsin State Journal with the popular “Wild Life” comic strip, but his career didn’t really take off until he decided to risk everything. In 1996, he left his job and invested in a gaming company called Out of the Box he’d dreamed up with fellow Madisonian Mark Osterhaus. They have since produced such hits as Apples to Apples and BLINK, and Kovalic’s newest game, ROFL!, was just released by gaming company Cryptozoic.
Nine years ago, UW–Madison grad Dale Beermann returned to Madison to work in software development. He soon landed a hot gig as co-founder of two Madison-based media-sharing websites: Myoutdoors.net and Sharendipity.com. Today he continues to develop innovative software as the chief technical and analytics officer for Studyblue.com, a mobile and online free service—think studying apps—that school kids understand, even if their parents don’t. While the company is headquartered in Madison, Beerman works in the San Francisco office.
At the suggestion of one of her teachers, Deidre Green joined the Simpson Street Free Press as an eighth grader. By the time she finished high school at La Follette, Green had become the paper’s senior teen editor and won a national “Coming Up Taller” award from the Presidential Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, traveling to Washington, D.C., to receive it from former First Lady Laura Bush. Today Green is the managing editor of the publication—and a UW–Madison student set to graduate in 2014 with a double major in English and African American Studies.
From her first years here in town, teaching in the emerging UW–Madison Women’s Studies program in the late 1970s, Ellen Foley blazed her own path. After Madison, a journalism career took her to, among others, the Minneapolis Star Tribune and the Philadelphia Daily News before landing her back here as editor of the Wisconsin State Journal in 2004. Foley stepped down in 2008 and subsequently served as the executive lead for Madison College’s successful $134 million referendum in 2011. Today she runs the Foley Media Group and writes a column for channel3000.com.
Growing up in Madison, Robert Pierce never imagined he would someday become a farmer. Yet a farmer he has been, growing organic vegetables and fruit and founding Half the 40 Acres farm in the 1980s. Today, he is busier than ever. He’s involved with the Program for Entrepreneurial Agricultural Training, which teaches youth how to grow their own food. And after farming for nearly thirty years, Pierce is also the manager of the South Madison Farmers’ Market and the Madison director of the renowned urban agriculture program Growing Power, headquartered in Milwaukee.
December 1992, July 1994, June 2000
Ricardo Gonzalez first graced our pages in 1992 as part of a series that revisited folks featured in Doug Edmunds’ “Citizen” photo shoot. A leader in the Hispanic community, Gonzalez long has been active in politics and public affairs—he served on the Madison Common Council for three terms, from ’89 to ’95. He just wrapped up his time as president of the Madison/Camaguey, Cuba, Sister City Association and says he is continually working on improving U.S./Cuba relations. “I want a new policy that eliminates the embargo against Cuba.” Gonzalez is also improving Madison, volunteering with local efforts such as Centro Hispano and “the occasional political campaign.” But the man is far from all work and no play; he’s equally known for his ownership of the happening Cardinal Bar downtown. Gonzalez sold the establishment to employees in 2004 but took it back over in 2009. Future plans for the club include a Cuban-style café, which he plans to introduce in late spring.
November 1992, March 1995, December 1999
At twenty-nine, Bill McCoshen became the youngest cabinet secretary in the history of Wisconsin government when he was appointed by then-governor Tommy Thompson to head the Department of Commerce in 1994. Now a lobbyist and managing partner of Capitol Consulting, McCoshen is also co-founder of a polling firm, Capitol Opinion, and has an interest in the Janesville Jets junior hockey team. Routinely described as “a top Republican” in the press, McCoshen continues to regularly aggravate Democrats as one of the GOP’s most effective and influential advisors.
Martha Michelson was one of three partners who opened a fun little shop called bop just off State Street in 1999. The plan was to retail designer denim, and it was a good plan—the store was a solid success. Then they took bop online, as shopbop.com, and the whole shebang skyrocketed. Amazon bought them out in 2006 and wisely kept Michelson as creative director until she retired and moved to Bloomington, Indiana, in 2011. That same year the company moved into artsy, renovated warehouse space on East Washington Avenue, which may help Madison anchor new development in that neighborhood. Thank you, Martha!
October 1982 (cover), December 1992, July 1993, May 2012
When David Couper arrived here to head up the city’s police department in 1972, Madison was still reeling from the 1971 bombing of Sterling Hall and years of violent confrontations between antiwar protesters and law enforcement. Over the next twenty-one years, Couper’s innovative and holistic approach to community policing transformed the department and ultimately turned Madison into one of the most respected police jurisdictions in the nation. Editorial director Neil Heinen devoted his column to Couper in last year’s May issue of Madison Magazine, so we’ll just note that Couper is now an Episcopal priest and author of a new book, Arrested Development, which may accomplish nothing less than transforming every police department in every city in the world.
Britt and Tawn Larsen
The Larsen twins grew up as waterskiing phenoms in Madison and then skied year-round at Rollins College in Florida. Then they became water-skiing legends—both are in the American and International Waterski halls of fame. Britt now lives in Canada with her husband and two daughers; Tawn is in Connecticut with her husband and five children—including two sets of twins.
Pam and Craig Coshun
When Craig and Pam Coshun—many Madisonians still know her as Pam Tauscher—were named to our “power couples” list in 1995, both worked at WMTV-TV; Pam anchored news and Craig did sports. Pam left Channel 15 in 2002 and subsequently worked as a news anchor at WISC-TV3, from 2005 to 2007. Now she has her own freelance business, hosting interviews on momseveryday.com/Madison and writing a column for the Wisconsin State Journal about her life in Verona with Craig and their two middle-school-aged sons. Meanwhile, Craig now works at FOX Sports Wisconsin, where he hosts pre- and postgame shows for the Brewers and the Bucks. He has also freelanced for ESPN and the Big Ten Network.
Luis Yudice is still working to keep Madison safe. Yudice, who immigrated to Madison from Guatemala in 1963, is a Madison East graduate and earned his degree in sociology and psychology at Edgewood College. He began his career as a beat officer with the Madison Police Department in 1974 and retired thirty years later as a captain. Since 2006, Yudice has been the coordinator of safety and security for the Madison Metropolitan School District, where he oversees issues affecting the district’s 24,000 students and forty-eight different schools.
Kelly De Haven
July 1989, October 1991 (cover)
Kelly De Haven was already a reigning jazz vocalist with an armful of honors and awards—and a regular on our Best of Madison lists—when we first wrote about her. She’d started singing with her dad, the legendary trumpeter Doc De Haven, and then went off on her own to record and release critically acclaimed CDs. While she still thrills listeners and fans with the occasional concert around town, De Haven’s full-time gig since 2006 has been as director of development for the UW Foundation. In addition to promoting UW–Madison to the world as a leading resource in education and culture, De Haven raises funds for the spectacular Alumni Park project currently under construction next to Memorial Union.
January 2005 (cover)
We picked Michelle Behnke for the cover when we published a “Top Lawyers” feature back in 2005. At the time, the personable and hardworking Behnke was serving a term as the first African American president in the history of the 127-year-old Wisconsin State Bar. She’s earned other accolades and awards, including the YWCA Women of Distinction, was a UW Law School adjunct professor and has served on myriad boards, including the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce and the Madison Community Development Corporation. Behnke is still in private practice as the principal of Michelle Behnke & Associates, and she regularly makes industry listings as one of the Best Lawyers in America and as a Wisconsin Super Lawyer.
For a long time, Tim Cullen’s resume looked like what you would expect from someone with a successful career in Wisconsin politics. A UW–Whitewater grad elected to the Janesville City Council in 1970, Cullen advanced to the state Senate four years later and made a name for himself as a pragmatic and increasingly powerful Democrat. In 1987, Republican governor Tommy Thompson appointed him Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Health and Social Services. A year later Cullen took an executive job with Blue Cross/Blue Shield, where he stayed until retiring in 2007. Then, three years later, came Act 2, in which Cullen un-retired and won yet another election to regain his old Senate seat—and, as a member of the Democrats who went to Illinois to temporarily block Wisconsin Act 10, he almost instantly became one of the central figures in the Wisconsin protests of 2011. Lately Cullen has embarked on a bipartisan listening tour with a Republican colleague, publicly rebuked and then made up with the leadership of his own caucus and continued to serve as a singularly irascible, yet creative, veteran legislator.
February 1998, November 1994
He retired as director of UW Athletics in 2004, but people still stop him on the street to say “thank you.” Sometimes it’s for turning around a sports program, especially a football program, that was, by most accounts, in disarray in the early 1990s. Sometimes it’s for hiring Barry Alvarez. And sometimes people thank Richter merely for living one of the greatest stories in the history of Badger sports. He lettered nine times as a UW athlete. He set a Rose Bowl record for receptions in the 1963 game against the No. 1-rated University of Southern California. He went on to become a first-round draft pick and play pro ball for eight years. And he was named to every college football hall of fame and “best football player ever” list you can think of—including Sports Illustrated’s NCAA Football All-Century Team. You can bet the Badgers retired his number, 88, with fanfare. And there’s a bronze statue of him outside Camp Randall. Thus far, though, that’s all Madison’s football fans have come up with to show their appreciation. Well that, and a million, emphatic “thank you!” shout-outs.
March 1989, August 1999 (cover), March 2009
Simone started taking swings at the glass ceiling when she became the first woman to lead a Wisconsin technical school, Madison Area Technical College, in 1989. She has helped guide colleges, and has broken new ground for the women who have followed her, ever since. After fourteen years with MATC, which today is Madison College, Simone spent a year as the only woman in senior management for the Higher Colleges of Technology in the United Arab Emirates. Then she returned to the Midwest to become the first woman president of Southeastern Community College in Iowa. She retired almost seven years later. Now Simone is back in Madison, serving as president emeritus of Madison College.
July 1996, November 1994, July 1998
Odessa Piper says she went $70,000 in debt for L’Etoile, the Capitol Square restaurant she launched in 1976 when she was only twenty-three years old. Lucky for us and the world of culinary ecstasy, she was willing to risk sticking with her venture. Her use of locally sourced ingredients was pioneering at the time; now it’s a hallmark of great restaurants. Today Piper lives with her husband in Boston, and chef Tory Miller and his sister Traci, who bought the restaurant from Piper in 2005, continue to expand on Piper’s legacy and delight Madison diners.
November 1994, May 2001 (cover)
How do you become a world-class opera star while living in the dairy state? Just ask Kitt Reuter-Foss, who trained at UW–Madison and raised a family in Verona, all while flying all over to perform with the Metropolitan Opera, the New Japan Philharmonic and several companies nationwide. Locally, she has performed with Children’s Theater of Madison and the Florentine Opera in Milwaukee. Faithful to Madison, Reuter-Foss continues to make a home here and offer private voice lessons, which she’s done for thirty years. Fun sidenote: Husband Scott is the longtime musical director at First United Methodist Church, where Reuter-Foss and her two daughters sing in the choir.
Marc McDowell is an unassuming type of professional athlete, with a friendly, next-door-neighbor demeanor. Don’t be fooled. In the world of professional bowling, McDowell is competitive royalty: five Professional Bowling Association tournament titles, leading the PBA in earnings and being named Bowler of the Year in 1992, and being inducted into the Madison Bowling Hall of Fame in 2008 and the Wisconsin State Bowling Hall of Fame this January. Sure, he retired from pro bowling in 1995 at age thirty-three and is now a retirement plan advisor here in town with Baker Tilly. Still, he plays in a league at Village Lanes in Monona. Local bowlers, you’ve been warned.
March 2004 (cover)
Back in 2004, we chose a staged photo of UW scientist Michael Sussman, clad in a leather jacket and with his arms folded across his chest like a tough guy, to illustrate our cover story on medical genetic research at UW–Madison. Why? Because the human genome had been sequenced and Sussman’s field was coming on like gangbusters. Then, too, Sussman had co-founded the genetic testing company NimbleGen in 1999 and was a leading researcher and professor and the director of the UW Biotechnology Center. NimbleGen sold to pharma-giant Roche for $272 million in 2007. And Sussman remains at the UW. Why? Because, he says, “Nowhere else in this country is science at a university so much fun or appreciated.”
June 2000, June 2004
When then-mayor Dave Cieslewicz created the city of Madison Department of Civil Rights in 2005, Lucia Nuñez was an obvious choice as department head. She had experienced and proven leadership skills, having already served as director of Centro Hispano. She had also served as the deputy secretary of the state Department of Workforce Development for then-governor Jim Doyle in 2003 and followed that by taking on the leadership post at the Equal Rights Division. Nuñez, a survivor of a 2008 pancreatic cancer diagnosis, continues to head up the city’s Department of Civil Rights.
Editorial interns Shelby Lewis and Rory Linnane contributed to this story.