Genealogy and Speleology?

Honored this month to be profiled in the UW Retirement Association newsletter, The Sifter. See p. 8:…/Sifters20…/2021.10%20final.pdf. And the full text:

I retired as a part-time communications specialist with the School of Human Ecology in 2014 and quickly missed so often walking into Nancy Nicholas Hall, with its perfect blend of historic and new design elements. Back then, I could not have predicted the changes to come. Like the recent 116F-degree temperature in the Pacific Northwest, several developments surprised me, though my general direction has remained the same.

Freelance writing and editing projects in the fields of community banking and higher education have become chapters of my past. Yet, I still write. After decades of family history research, Henschel Haus, Milwaukee, (  published Elsie’s Story: Chasing a Family Mystery as well as new editions of Wisconsin Underground: A Guide to Caves, Mines, and Tunnels; and, most recently, Minnesota Underground: A Guide to Caves & Karst, Mines & Tunnels (co-authored with Greg Brick).

Related to Elsie’s Story, I now write a monthly genealogy/family history column for Voice of the River Valley ( The family history interest is engrained: I still can’t throw away childhood artifacts like a Silver Streak sled, a carom board, and a music box-purse my Aunt Elsie gave me. Related to the Underground books, I contributed to a National Speleological Society-spearheaded website recognizing 2021 as the International Year of Caves and Karst—

An unexpected role is as a caregiver for my husband, Michael Knight (like me a UW-Madison alum), who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease two years ago.  We enjoy cooking together, culling family photos, doing jigsaw puzzles, and playing Scrabble.

As I’ve done most days for 27 years in every season and weather, I walk from our log house in the woods up to our “bunker” overlooking the Wisconsin River, with the Lone Rock bridge visible in the distance. Grounding also comes from working in our woods and gardening, which leads me inevitably back to the kitchen.

Like the vista of the river valley, retirement has led to a broad view and, on particularly windy days, the exhilaration of risk.