Class Notes: Fall/Winter 2016-17


51sxcS0QHcL._UY250_Barabara Taylor Blomquist MDS ’50 recently celebrated the release of the third edition of her book “Insight into Adoption.” It has been updated for a new generation of adoptees, adoptive parents, and child care professionals. The book explores and explains the differences between an adoptive and a biological family; acknowledges the realities of adoption; and normalizes the feelings and emotions of those in the adoption world who often think they stand alone.

Gilbert C. Thelen MCDS ’56 was inducted into the Florida Newspaper Hall of Fame on September 14, 2016. Thelen is credited as the first editor to bring team-building practices and disciplines to an American newsroom in Charlotte in the 1980s. He chaired American Society of News Editor’s (ASNE) Change Committee and ASNE’s Interactive Media Committee. A graduate of Duke University, he worked in Associated Press’ Washington bureau as  a consumer affairs reporter and then worked for a variety of newspapers including the Chicago Daily News, The Charlotte Observer, and the Sun News in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and then joined The Tampa Tribune as executive editor from 1998 to 2003 and publisher from 2003 to 2006. Thelen joined the University of South Florida faculty in 2007 as the Clendinen Professor of Critical Writing and is an inductee to USF’s Journalism Hall of Fame. Since 2006, Thelen has also served as executive director of the Florida Society of News Editors. Thelen has won numerous personal and professional recognitions including two Pulitzer Prize nominations.


ApologyCover3DHRfront-PrintShadEric Haggman ’66 recently published his first novel, “The Apology,” which is inspired by his own world travels, interest in the underpinnings of the criminal world, a passion for history, and thrillers by his heroes James Patterson, Michael Connelly, and Stieg Larsson, among others. When he’s not traveling throughout Asia and South Africa shooting videos and gathering research for his book, you’ll find him at home, inches from the Atlantic, with his partner and wife, Emily, and Shanghai, their fluffy white ragdoll cat who thinks he’s a dog. You can find out more about Eric and “The Apology” at


Ramhorn FarmScott R. Sieckman ’77 was featured in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel for his unique garden oasis, Ramhorn Farm. Sieckman and his partner, Matt Kastell, have devoted 12 years to developing 130 acres of rolling hills and prairies, wetlands, woodlands, ponds, and gardens due to their strong interest in land and historic architecture preservation. Ramhorn Farm is now available as an event venue for those seeking the timeless splendor of a European Farmstead, right here in southeastern Wisconsin.


Andy Gordon ’98 married Melissa Lamote on September 24, 2016.


Drew Palin ’01 and April Palin welcomed Luke Marshall Palin on July 29, 2016.

Adam VanderVeen ’01 and Pamela VanderVeen welcomed Remington Paul VanderVeen on August 13, 2016. He was 8 pounds, 2 ounces and 20 inches.

Holly Palin Cornille ’02 and Mike Cornille welcomed Ryder Read Cornille on October 12, 2016.

Ellen G. Wernecke ’01 married Daniel Robert Mortenson on September 2, 2016 at the Blackstone Hotel in Chicago.

Jonathan K. Lund ’03 and Anna Lund welcomed their first child, a daughter, Sophie Mae Lund, on April 25, 2016.

Jillian R. Colbert ’04 and Carl Fredrick Sebastian Alsheimer were married on August 27, 2016 on Martha’s Vineyard at the Allen Farm in Chilmark, Massachusetts. The officiant was Vernon E. Jordan Jr., the civil rights activist and a friend of the couple. The couple met at Columbia University, from which the bride received a law degree and the groom received a Master of Law degree. Jillian is an associate specializing in corporate law at the New York law firm Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz. She graduated from the George Washington University. Sebastian is an associate specializing in mergers and acquisitions in the New York office of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, the London law firm. He graduates from Harvard University and received a law degree from Oxford University.

Alyssa Q. Colbert ’06 married Gregory Paige Barrett on June 4, 2016, at the Old Whaling Church in Edgarton, Massachusets, on Martha’s Vineyard. Alyssa is in her final year of law school at Harvard University, from which she received an MBA. She is also a cum laude graduate of Harvard. He graduated from Morehouse College and received a master’s in accountancy from the University of Notre Dame. He is also a CPA. The couple met when they were children, through Jack and Jill of America, a social, cultural, educational, and leadership development organization for African-American mothers and their children, and reconnected in 2005 on Martha’s Vineyard.

Jessica E. Seter Lane ’06 married Andrew Lane ’03 on August 20, 2016.

Jehan H. Hamedi ’08 recently launched his first tech startup, Adhark, in Boston. Adhark is a streaming marketing recommendation company whose first product, Cuckoo, is the world’s first task advisor for marketing. Learn more at

Grace K. Hauske Robbins ’08 married Andrew Robbins ’04 on September 17, 2016.

Ryan Stewart ’09 married Natalie Revitte on August 13, 2016.


Emily A. V. Bach ’13 was named to the 2016 spring semester dean’s list at St. Norbert College.

Djdade J. Denson ’14 reunited with Mary Ellen Jones, one of his first USM track coaches, while volunteering for Project Homeless Connect. “It was amazing not only to reconnect with Mary Ellen, but to see people come together in one space for one mission: to help other,” he said. Read more about Denson and his passion for helping others in this feature story.

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