From your co-chairs

Portrait of Jeff & Jone Riester
Hard to believe that it's been nearly two months since we enjoyed greeting so many of you at the Boynton Society Gala in early August and shared the good news about the continued strength of our support of programs at Bjorklunden.  We celebrated in fine style, as usual!
Those in attendance at the Gala may recall mention of an 'aging-out' phenomenon taking place, as several of our longest-tenured Boynton Society members pass on.  While we are doing well at adding new supporters at the other end of the demographic curve, we are also inspired to approach the challenge in an additional way. If you ask yourself what will happen to your support of Bjorklunden when you're no longer alive to write your Boynton Society check each year, one answer might come to mind:  While you are able, make a Legacy Circle arrangement to have your support continue in perpetuity. We have made planned giving arrangements so that Bjorklunden will benefit forever from an endowed fund, and invite you to do the same.  If you have any questions, please visit or reach out to Mark Breseman.
The commitment and successes we celebrated at the Gala can be assured with a gift that supports Bjorklunden forever.  As we turn the page to a new year, please consider extending your annual support in this way.  
Thanks for giving to help make Bjorklunden thrive.  And enjoy the newsletter ... it's chock full of reminders of why we are proud to be members of the Boynton Society.


Jeff and Jone Riester
Boynton Society Co-chairs

Assistant Director’s Column

by Bailey Koepsel, assistant director of Björklunden


When Mark Breseman and I sat down in early June to discuss the upcoming seminar season, he asked how I was feeling about the start of a new summer. “Nervous,” was my immediate answer. He laughed and asked why that was the case.  I explained the planning, set up, and scheduling were all done by me this year—I’m worried I forgot something!  But, with the 2017 season ending in a few short weeks, I think I can safely say nothing was forgotten, thanks in part to the team effort at Bjorklunden.  Things would not run as smoothly without Kim’s endless cheer, Steve’s fantastic cooking, Philip’s levelheadedness, Mark Franke’s attention to detail, Mark Breseman’s patience, and the student staff’s hard work.  It is no easy task welcoming over 600 people in such a short amount of time, but that is one of the beautiful things about Bjorklunden: it encourages growth, thanks to the ever changing challenges each day brings. 

Bjork Staff

As I reflect on the last three months, there is one week that stands out as a prime example of how unflappable Bjorklunden’s staff was this summer.  July 30th was the busiest seminar week ever, and our staff did an amazing job engaging with the 132 people that walked through the doors every morning.  By the time August 4th rolled around, we were exhausted, but very satisfied knowing participants had a great time with the instructors and each other.   The next week we celebrated you—Boynton Society members—with the Boynton Gala.  It is my favorite event of the season because everyone in attendance loves and supports Bjorklunden, not only for themselves, but also for the Lawrence University students that visit during the school year.  Most of our student staff visited Bjorklunden on the weekends, and they all said the same thing: Bjorklunden is a much-needed break from campus.  It provides a peaceful place to finish papers, study, or just unwind after a stressful week.  I hope Bjorklunden continues to be that sanctuary, not only for LU students, but for seminar participants as well.

I’m sure you are anxious to find out about 2018; Mark and I almost have the schedule complete.  I can’t give everything away, but I can tell you that longtime favorites like Don Quintenz and Tim Crain will be returning.  We also have several instructors joining us after a brief hiatus, like Jon Greenwald and Jerry Clifford.  And as always, we added a few new faces to the mix.  Since Boynton Society members get to register early, the full schedule will be in the next issue of the Boynton Society Newsletter—so keep an eye out for that email in December. 

Until then, be well, and have a wonderful fall!

Homage to Joe Hopfensperger

by Mark Breseman

Image of Joe

The Björklunden family lost another special person earlier this summer. In fact, one could argue that he was the leader of the Björklunden family. Joe Hopfensperger was a wonderful person, a fantastic teacher and the perfect person to direct Björklunden. To tie in Joe's Navy life, when he took over Björklunden in 1977 it was pretty much a ship without a rudder. Joe provided critical direction and leadership for Björklunden for over 13 years. He established the signature Björklunden Seminar program that continues to this day. He also started the Friends of Björklunden group to help ensure Björklunden had the financial and volunteer support needed even when the college was less than interested in providing for the overall needs of the facility. Joe's passion for the place was unparalleled. 

I consider myself extremely fortunate to have worked for Joe at Björklunden for two summers in the late '70s. He was such a fabulous mentor to me. I learned so much from him: the proper use of a chainsaw, how to update the electrical wiring in all the old buildings, the appropriately theatrical method for conducting chapel tours and he ingrained in me the fine art of hospitality. Most importantly, however, he set the example for how to be a better person.

As I write this I am sitting amongst the trees in the backyard of the stabbur where Joe lived for all his years at Björklunden. It is easy to let one's senses relax and just absorb the sounds, sights and smells of this fabulous place. A place that is still part of Lawrence University thanks in large measure to my good friend and mentor Joe Hopfensperger. Joe, you are missed.

Image of Joe

Robin Fondow ’76 remembers Joe Hopfensperger

I was a student of Joe’s in the mid­1970’s at Lawrence. I want to thank Wendy for asking me to share a brief reflection. Every student should be fortunate to have a teacher who helps guide him or her, lights a passion for learning, and genuinely cares about them. For me, Joe was that person.

To understand Joe’s positive influence on my life I have to tell you a little about myself. As a junior transfer student at Lawrence in 1974, I struggled academically to find a suitable major to go along with the elementary education teaching certificate I was pursuing. An education professor and dear friend of Joe’s, George Walter, set up a meeting between Joe and me to explore the possibility of my majoring in theater and drama with an emphasis on children’s theater ­ particularly creative dramatics. I knew very little about the theater, but that meeting with Joe changed my life.

Joe was never put off by my lack of knowledge. Back then the department had every prospective theater major take a pretest to determine what the student knew about the subject, and I am fairly certain that the only part of that test I got correct was my name. However, Joe’s emphasis and focus was on my potential for learning, rather, than all I did not know. He definitely approached teaching with a Growth Mindset, before that term was known in education circles.

Joe’s knowledge of all aspects of theater and drama was amazing, but he was not afraid to admit that creative dramatics was outside his area of expertise so he connected me with an Appleton public school drama teacher named Anne Glasner, who was an expert. Working with Joe and Anne I learned the power of collaboration.

Joe and I had something in common that helped create a strong bond.
Joe was a former Lawrence football player and I was a member of the team. It was very unusual to have a football player, who was also a theater and drama major. To help me understand difficult theater concepts Joe would occasionally use football metaphors. I doubt that technique has been used much by other professors, but it certainly worked for me. Joe was the type of teacher who met the student where he or she was at.

Joe’s passion for the theater was contagious. I clearly remember sitting in his office listening to him describe a dramatic scene from the play Cyrano de Bergerac and his description was so beautiful that I felt I was attending the play. Because of Joe, I came to understand that experiencing a good theater production had the power to elevate the human spirit to levels never imagined.

In my opinion, at the heart of education a teacher is trying to help a student’s world become larger. Joe did that for me, and I am very grateful for his presence in my life.

Björklunden is going to Cuba!

Don’t forget—Bjorklunden is going to Cuba!  Registration information can be found here.

For more information from the trip organizers click here.

picture of cuba

From Gustavo Fares, trip leader:

“Our Bjorklunden Seminar finds itself at the ideal and liminal time to visit the island and to get a deep understanding of Cuba today, of its history, and of its culture. Our trip will start with an overnight stay in Miami, where the group will gather and share our expectations about the island, wetting our appetite for the places we will visit. The next day we will depart for Havana, where we will spend the next two days visiting the sights of old Havana’s rich architectural heritage, which have resulted in a UNESCO designation as a World Cultural Heritage site, sampling delicious Cuban food at local restaurants, getting acquainted with the sites Hemingway made famous after two decades of living in this city, and understanding the processes that lead to the 1959 Revolutions and its aftermath. We will depart from Havana to visit three spectacular sites:  the Varadero peninsula, which is home to some of the best beaches in the Caribbean, the city of Cienfuegos, where we will attend musical performances, and the nearby colonial city of Trinidad, another UNESCO-designated architectural jewel of the Caribbean.”

Renew Support

The programming and experiences available at Björklunden promote the exploration of ideas and issues that matter to us all, placing us on the rewarding path of lifelong learning. Together—alumni, volunteers and friends—we can ensure the lasting success and future of Björklunden.

Please renew your Boynton Society membership with a gift of $250 or more and continue to help us offer life-changing experiences for students of all ages and walks of life who visit Björklunden.

Make an online gift now!

Mail your check to:
Lawrence University Development Office
711 E. Boldt Way
Appleton, WI 54911-5595

Call 920-832-6548 to charge a gift to your credit card. Outside normal business hours, leave a message at this number and we will return your call.