From your co-chairs

Portrait of Jeff & Jone Riester
Thank you to those who were able to join us at the annual Boynton Society Gala this year. It was my pleasure to welcome each of you to Bjӧrklunden and to now thank you all for your generous support of this beautiful Northwoods home for Lawrence University.

Your support has truly made an impact. On that note, each year I give a few statistics for you "numbers geeks," so here goes: A total of 646 individuals made gifts to Bjӧrklunden last academic year; 362 came from members of the Boynton Society. Together, we raised over $244,600! Over $226,000 of the dollars came from Boynton Society donors, covering approximately 30 percent of Bjӧrklunden’s operating budget.

This accomplishment shows how important the Boynton Society is to Lawrence's mission here at the "northern campus." Along with the enhanced upkeep of the property, your gifts provide Lawrence students with the opportunity to experience Bjӧrklunden each weekend throughout the academic year. We had 1,683 students stay at this retreat last year alone. It's this student experience that is at the heart of what happens here.

You will see a couple of our summer seminars featured in this issue, and we hope you were able to visit the lodge this year as well. While we had over 530 guests attend 35 seminars this summer, we are hoping for more guests to join us going forward. Please continue to attend the seminars yourself or recommend them to family and friends.

Whether you are a Lawrence graduate, a Door County resident, a longtime friend of the lodge, a seminar regular or, like Jone and me, some combination of all those things, Bjӧrklunden is a place that extends unique learning opportunities to students of all ages. That is why I hope you will all continue to celebrate and support this wonderful place.

Jeff ’70 and Jone Riester ’72
Co-Chairs, The Boynton Society


Make your annual gift to the Boynton Society at or

Director's Column

By Mark Breseman ’78

This has definitely turned into an unexpected bonus. I knew I would need to spend more time at Björklunden this summer working with Bailey Koepsel, our new assistant director. In addition to all the extra time hanging with Bailey in the office, however, I got to spend a lot more time in the front of the house interacting with seminar guests. Ever since I started working more on campus in 2009, I often would only spend one day a week at Björklunden, and rarely was I there on a Sunday afternoon and evening as the guests arrived. It was very nice to be able to reconnect with many of our longtime seminar attendees. We were able to catch up and share stories. I even got to dust off my whole Sunday night welcome speech! It is during this valued time in front of our guests that I get to promote the opportunity for them to view the “life-altering” Björklunden history slideshow that I present Monday afternoon. It is my good fortune there are usually a number of folks with an interest, so I get to spend some time talking about Björklunden, which is always a joy.

I was also able to spend more time with other staff members. I really appreciate the expertise Mark Franke brings to his position. There are a number of complicated projects Mark is working on, and they're all progressing quite well. Of course Kim is doing her usual fantastic job of making sure everything is running smoothly for our guests. She keeps our wonderful student staff engaged and motivated throughout the summer. And Bailey is settling into her new role. As summer moves into fall and the academic year resumes at Lawrence, my time at Björklunden once again becomes limited, so she gets to assume many more responsibilities as time moves on.

Speaking of moving on, Andy Plank, our weekend program coordinator, has relocated to Nashville to pursue his passion for a career in the music field. We wish him well and thank him for all his fine efforts in working with the student weekend program for the past year. We are excited to bring Philip Clark ’15 on board to assume Andy’s role. Philip was a history major at Lawrence who most recently was spending time as an assistant coach of the Lawrence baseball team. We are excited to have Philip as a part of the Björklunden year-round staff.

There are so many wonderful conversations that occurred this summer with old friends that will be impossible to recount here. It was special for me, however, to have Joe Hopfensperger at a couple of seminars. Joe was the first resident director at Björklunden, working here from 1977 to 1990. He is responsible for much of what Björklunden is today, and I consider him a wonderful mentor. Joe had a recent health scare, but I'm happy to report he is at home and doing well. Joe, we all wish you the best!

All in all, it was a wonderful summer for me. It went by much too fast, of course, but I very much appreciated reconnecting with so many fantastic Björklunden seminar attendees.

Jane Whitney receives presidential award

Through her dedication to Bjӧrklunden and her passion for the beauty it beholds, Jane Whitney truly deserved to be honored with the 2016 Richard Warch Outstanding Service to Björklunden Award.

Jane is Bjӧrklunden’s dedicated naturalist. She has spent her entire life learning about nature, and when she moved to Baileys Harbor in 2007, Jane wanted to acclimate to Door County’s unique and natural setting. She began utilizing Bjӧrklunden’s trails with her granddaughter, eventually becoming so familiar with the setting that she offered to lead hikes during the seminar season.

As one of Björklunden’s greatest ambassadors, Jane is constantly advocating for its programs. She loves talking about the seminars, the Boynton Chapel and the wonders of nature found on the property. She has been heavily involved with the maintenance of Björklunden’s beauty.  When phragmites took over Björklunden’s lakefront, she became certified by the Department of Natural Resources to remove the invasive species. While Jane scouts for her weekly hikes, she monitors changes in the woods, watches for invasive plants or bugs and keeps an eye out for vandalism.

Jane does something at the lodge every season: decorating the lodge at Christmas, volunteering for the spring cleanup, attending summer seminars, leading chapel tours during the summer and fall. But Jane’s favorite thing to do at Björklunden is lead hikes during the summer and fall. Her “I-can-learn-that” attitude has not only given Björklunden participants a wealth of knowledge, but also an immense amount of joy and appreciation. During each of her hikes, Jane seeks to make nature accessible and show how the botanical world influences time.


Jane helps educate and remind us about being part of the natural world and how lucky we are to have a place like Bjӧrklunden in our lives. Congratulations and thank you to Jane!

The wonders of Cuba

By Cheryl Wilson Kopecky ’72

During a 2015 Björklunden seminar, my husband, Rob, and I heard about the Lawrence trip to Cuba. Our first reaction was, “Sign us up!” Later we began to wonder. We wondered about the kind of accommodations we would experience. We wondered if we would be free to take walks early in the morning or later in the evening to capture photographs. We wondered how much of the unvarnished part of Cuba we would see. We wondered if our guide would present a programmed, Castro-style dialogue throughout the tour. When friends who previously traveled to Cuba told us to bring toilet paper, we wondered just how big a problem it would be. We did a lot of wondering before we left!

Our concerns began to fade when Professor of Spanish Gustavo Fares provided us with extensive lists of resources and articles in the months preceding departure and mini-lectures while we traveled in Cuba on our modern motor coach.


Soon we learned we should not have underestimated the Cuba experience, especially when the trip was planned through Lawrence and led by Fares and Associate Vice President of Alumni and Constituency Engagement Mark Breseman ’78. The presence of Eli Edelman ’14, who studied percussion in Cuba and knew the music, culture and language of the people, also enriched our experience. Our local guide, Gretel, made sure every aspect of the trip ran smoothly, which was not easily accomplished. Many changes to the itinerary were required because President Obama arrived in Cuba just a couple of days after our tour arrived. However, the 34 travelers in our group demonstrated great flexibility!

We visited several Cuban cities, including Havana, Varadero, Matanzas, Cienfuegos, Trinidad and Santa Clara. Our hotels in Havana and Varadero were modern with beautiful accommodations and amenities. In Cienfuegos, our hotel was established in 1869 but was very well kept and included scenic courtyards and a fine restaurant. We visited the other cities as day trips.

Much to our satisfaction, our days, and some evenings, were active and comfortably scheduled, but we also enjoyed free time to visit other places of interest on our own. We did not experience any restrictions if we wished to explore independently and nothing was off-limits for interested photographers.

As for the toilet paper, carrying tissue came in handy several times when we were away from our hotels!


During our tour days, Gretel explained not only the sites on our schedule but also her history as a Cuban and her life in Havana. She spoke candidly about what she saw as the strengths and the mistakes of the Cuban government during the past 50 years. Gretel and our group agreed the people of our respective countries may hold many misperceptions about each other due to limited communication during the past decades.


For us, the disparity between the quality of life for the average Cuban and the luxury hotels available for tourists was very clear. We also learned the Cuban people feel deep pride in their country and are hopeful about a future of independence and an improved economy. 

Thanks to our Lawrence tour we found answers to the many things we wondered about before leaving and can now say the whole experience was wonderful!

Another successful summer

It has been a busy summer at Björklunden! Thank you to the 538 people who joined us at Bjӧrklunden to attend one of our fantastic summer seminar offerings this year. We hope you enjoyed your vacation with a focus! Many unique adventures and thought-provoking conversations were had. From opera legend Dale Duesing to ABC’s foreign correspondent Terry Moran ’82 and from Apostle Thomas to herbalism, seminar participants were able to engage with a wide variety of instructors and enjoy an expansive selection of topics.

Guests were able to enjoy weekly nature walks with Jane Whitney and take in the student talent show on Tuesday evenings.

As the seminar season begins to come to a close, Björklunden is looking forward to next year and all the adventures to come!

Watercolor: The Expressive Medium
Helen Klebesadel has offered her annual Bjӧrklunden watercolor seminars since 1996, and many of her participants have joined her at the lodge every year since then! Participants become part of a creative community that invites them to experiment with a wide range of traditional and non-traditional watercolor techniques and learn to create strong, individualized artistic statements.

We are fortunate to enjoy some photos of their wonderful work this year.

This assortment of trading cards was a tradition that began many years ago. Each participant does 22, then they swap and go home with 21 beautiful original works of art.



Homage to Margot


Margot Moses Warch, 1939–2016

by Estella Lauter

I first came to know Margot in 1957 when we lived in the same freshman hall at the University of Rochester in western New York. We worked closely together in student government at Rochester, visited each other during the ‘60s when we both lived in Connecticut, lived either next door or across the street from each other in Appleton for about 20 years and retired to Door County in the same month of 2004. We knew each other’s parents, siblings and friends, and our children grew up together. It is no exaggeration to say that this was one of the most important friendships of my life, and her death is still scarcely bearable.

Despite her many accomplishments, Margot was one of the most unassuming people I have known. From an early age, she had her own point of view and carried herself with a calm elegance that often made people turn to her for leadership. At Rochester she was elected to the co-ed student government (as a secretary, of course) and to the Women’s Judicial Board. In Appleton she was a leader in the literacy movement and a key person in the annual book drive for the American Association of University Women (AAUW), a role she reprised for the Sister Bay Library each August since 2004. However, she consistently chose labor-intensive roles behind the scenes that did not draw attention to herself.

She was also a perfectionist who never did anything halfway. A case in point was her approach to becoming Lawrence’s first lady in 1979. She quickly realized she would be expected to entertain the trustees several times a year, and if she left the menus to food service, they would likely be repetitive. So, she spent the summer of 1980 looking for recipes in the library (before Google) and asking for recommendations from everyone she knew, including her far-flung friends from college. She repeated this process many times, giving the same careful and caring attention to her unpaid job as she did to her teaching at Fox Valley Technical College, where she taught reading to adult students, many of whom did not yet speak English fluently. In 2000, she was honored with an award for outstanding advising of those students.

Reading was always a crucial value for Margot. She was an English major and an English teacher in Rochester (where she and my husband, Chuck, commuted in his black VW Beetle to do their practice teaching in 1961). She taught English at a boys’ school the year she and Rik lived in Scotland, and she was the family breadwinner in New Haven, Conn., while Rik was in graduate school. In her continuing education there and at UW–Oshkosh, she specialized in the many skills of reading. She was a voracious reader––one who read with a critical eye, always looking for clarity, authenticity and style. In the book group we shared in Door County, she was more likely to ask a question of the author or to identify a stumbling block in the text than she was to offer an interpretation or argue a point, but she always knew what worked in writing and what did not.

It was this well-honed intelligence and fundamental honesty that made her such a valuable partner for Rik in his role as president of Lawrence. I doubt he gave many Convocations, introductions or speeches during his tenure there that Margot had not vetted. If she were present in the audience, he often referred to her perspective, especially if he had not made the change she had suggested. She was his sounding board, just as he was her primary conversation partner. 

Margot was clear in her preferences and judgments, but she was also open to new information and perspectives, and she enjoyed the challenge of learning, perhaps more than any tangible achievement. Once, when she was thinking about what role might be best for her in retirement, I encouraged her to write. But she said, with characteristic modesty, “No, I have read too much great literature.” This was a beautiful woman who would not sit for a portrait for the Richard and Margot Warch Campus Center at Lawrence. She was a woman who said she wanted most of all at Rik’s retirement two Adirondack chairs side by side on the grounds at Björklunden. She was a woman who said in conversation not long ago that in retirement she had decided simply to be the best friend she could be.

She gave her best to many of us—at some cost to herself, because her internal critic was not silent. Unfailingly kind in her interactions with others, she was often hard on herself in private. She said once that Rik was the one person who could always make her laugh, and she valued laughter highly as part of good company. What many of us will remember most fondly when our sorrow lessens is a moment when her eyes shone as if they were backlit with joy or mischief and she laughed without reservation.

One such moment for me will always be her gleeful instigation of a neighborhood pie party in the late afternoon each Thanksgiving Day (sometimes a pie for each person), a multigenerational tradition that continued for 20 years or more.

Margot loved Bjӧrklunden. One of her last projects was to make a list of all the books (plays, musical scores, etc.) that were ever assigned in Freshman Studies at Lawrence and to begin collecting the required editions for the Bjӧrklunden library. She would want us to do everything in our power to continue the work of Freshman Studies in our lives and to support the opportunity for students, alumni, neighbors and all manners of travelers to experience the kind of education that occurs on this unique campus.

The world is a better place because she moved among us, moving us with her.

Please renew your 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.