Class Bulletin Board

Nat Soper’s Howdy

Nat told us that an important family event came up that conflicts with the reunion date. Here is his Howdy

  • Undergrad school at U. of Victoria (B.C.), medical school at Iowa, surgical residency at the University of Utah, research fellowship at Mayo Clinic.
  • Married Cindy Lee (Class of ‘74) in 1978 (45 years this May!), and we had 3 sons—Nick, Rob and Chris.
  • First academic faculty position at Washington University in St. Louis. Stumbled upon a great new technology and was one of the first academic surgeons to do laparoscopic surgery.
  • Recruited to Northwestern University in Chicago where I was later named Chairman of the Department of Surgery for 12 years.
  • In Sept. 2020 (heart of pandemic) took on the position of Chair of Surgery at the University of Arizona College of Medicine-Phoenix. My job is to accelerate the development of a start-up academic department.  Although Phoenix is wonderful in the winter, it’s a bit toasty in the summer, so we have a home in Flagstaff where I must commute each weekend to see Cindy and our pets…
  • Now have 3 grandsons and 1 ½ granddaughters (due Sept) in California
  • Picked up golf (a game I love to hate) and pondering retirement (2 years, age 70?)
  • How fast this 50 years has flown by—wish I could see you all in June!!


Nat (personal email

Nat Soper

Mark Zanger’s Howdy

Dear All!

With my warmest regards, here is my “Howdy”!

  1. After graduation from West High I enrolled in the University of Iowa.
  2.  I soon got into psychedelics and was thoroughly charmed by their effects.  I believed that the psychedelic experience ought to be the normal experience of life and consequently sought to understand it and somehow make it a permanent reality.
  3. I read “Autobiography of A Yogi”, said to myself, “This is it!” and signed up for the lessons recommended by Paramahansa Yogananda.
  4. Before receiving the lessons, my Mom suggested I and my girlfriend, Denise Philips, start Transcendental Meditation.  We did!  (1974)  We liked it!
  5. However, then the lessons from Yogananda’s organization, The Self-Realization Fellowship, arrived and I quit TM and started their program of meditation.
  6. Denise continued to practice TM and signed up for an “in residence” course during which the participants do an extra meditation in the morning.  THANK YOU DENISE!
  7. Fortunately, I decided to join her on the course.
  8. I saw Maharishi Mahesh Yogi on videotape and coupled with the experience of extra meditation, had a conversion experience!
  9. Totally sold out to TM!
  10. Realized the Self in December of 1994 and started reading a book entitled “Vasistha’s Yoga” (the second “s” is pronounced “sh”) translated by Swami Venkatesananda (available on Amazon).
  11. If I were on my death bed, the last words I would say are, “Read ‘Vasistha’s Yoga’ “.

I would also like to deeply apologize to each and everyone who was hurt by the profoundly ignorant, uncompassionate, and blindly egotistical behavior during my high school years! 

Happy 50th Reunion!

Dave Gerlits’ Howdies

Dave wanted to share three versions of his Howdy to show classmates three different ways to say “Howdy” to the other members of the class. You can email your written Howdy to your webmaster, leave a voicemail for your classmates at 319-975-1476, or send your webmaster a video to share.

Dave’s Video Howdy

Dave’s Voicemail Howdy

Dave Gerlits’ voicemail Howdy

Dave’s Written Howdy

After West High I went to the U of I where I got a bachelors degree in Physics and Chemistry. I joined the Nuclear Navy when I graduated college, and spent 6 years there serving as an officer on board a nuclear submarine. 

I left the Navy in 1982, and worked at a nuclear power plant in Plymouth MA for 22 years. During this time I married my wife Bobbi and we had two kids – Henry and Bessie. They are all grown up now and we have three grandsons: Isaiah, Tayne, and William.

I left the power plant in 2005 and worked for two big nuclear power plant vendors, doing safety and severe accident analysis work for Framatome (France) and Westinghouse. I retired last July and am loving the “life of leisure”.

Dave and Bobbi Gerlits enjoying the great outdoors in 2022

In Memory of Melanie Kay Tappan

Bonnie (Tappan) Weldon gave us permission to share the obituary of her sister Melanie.

Melanie Kay Tappan

Melanie Kay Tappan left to fly with the angels on Feb 8th, 2023. She passed peacefully at the Solace House hospice in Joplin, MO due to a sudden illness.

Melanie was the fifth of six children to be born to Sheldon and Connie (Hastings) Tappan on Oct 31, 1964. She grew up on the Century family farm west of Iowa City as the 5th generation to be raised there. She attended West High in Iowa City.

Mel was a free spirit, caring, loved anything from the ‘70’s (especially music), lived life on her own terms and had a kind loving heart. Her family, friends and all animals big and small were very important and dear to her heart. Everyone she met was considered a friend and she would do anything for anyone. Melanie loved to travel and one of her favorite places was Estes Park, Co where she lived for many years. Melanie married Kenny Westcott and they later divorced.

Melanie is survived by her siblings: Bonnie Weldon of Iowa City, Becky (Craig) Tubandt of CA, Kevin (Carolyn) Tappan of Riverside and Wendy (Tom) Strabala of Ainsworth. Nephews and niece: Eric Weldon, Matt Weldon, Andy Tappan, James Tappan, Mike Tappan, Travis Tubandt, Tyler Tubandt, Trent Tappan and Carly Tappan and great nephews and nieces. She is also survived by many cousins, friends and her very special friend, Steve Porter of Joplin, Mo.

She was preceded in death by her parents, brother Mark, brother-in-law Larry Weldon, Grandparents, Carl and Rose (Bayer) Hastings and Oscar and Bessie (Westfall) Tappan, special aunt Karleen (Bob) Ferguson, many aunts and uncles, cousins and friends. We know she was happy to be reunited with her dogs, Sniffles and Tessie, whom she dearly loved. There was a wonderful reunion on the other side when Melanie arrived.

We love and will miss you, Mel. We are thankful you are now at peace and out of pain.

Our family would like to especially thank Dr. Memon and the ICU staff at Mercy hospital and the Solace House hospice, in Joplin, MO for their wonderful loving care. There are no services planned at this time. Private family services will be held in the summer.

In Memory of Fran Rogers

Bonnie (Tappan) Weldon let us know that Julie Rogers’ mom Fran Rogers passed away recently. Julie has given us permission to share the obituary of this remarkable woman

Middle aged woman with silver hair and glasses looking at the camera over her right shoulder
Opal Francis (Fran) Wenman Rogers

Opal Frances (Fran) Wenman was born January 30, 1925, in Harrisburg, Illinois, and died February 16, 2023. She was the third child of Charles and Lora Fulkerson Wenman. She graduated from University High School in Iowa City and the Iowa City Business College.

Fran had many accomplishments in her life. She loved to read and felt that a library was essential in a growing town. Her Girl Scout troop decided to have some bake sales to earn money to start a library in Coralville, and many private book donations were accepted. On September 13, 1965 the library opened at 405 2nd Avenue, which was the Coralville City Hall. They grew fast and expanded to larger quarters at 806 5th Street in January, 1967, then built a new library at 1401 5th Street which opened in March 1987. Fran volunteered and worked at the Coralville Library from 1965 to 1991, when she retired.

Fran and her husband Bob moved to Wellman, Iowa in 1986. She worked at the Wellman Public Library until retiring in 2009.

Fran and her husband Bob moved to Wellman, Iowa in 1986. She worked at the Wellman Public Library until retiring in 2009.

Fran was a beautiful soul whose kindness, grace, and mercy will be long remembered by all who knew her.

In 1947 she married Robert Rogers at the Little Brown Church in Nashua, Iowa. She is survived by five children: Karen Ackerman (Bill), Debbie, Carole, Julie, and Teri Rogers; eight grandchildren: Allison Buschy (Doug), Anne Ackerman, Clint Ackerman, Chris Fry, Sara Fry (Isaiah Matthews), Carrie Evans (Chris), Tony Wai, and Jordan Rogers; eleven great-grandchildren: Abbey and Dade Buschy, Wyatt and Kolt Ackerman, Rowa Anderson, Will, Dylan, Tom, Joe, and Matt Evans, David Davis, brother Richard Wenman (Mary), and brother-in-law John Rogers.

She was preceded in death by her husband Bob, granddaughter-in-law Beth Shapcott Fry, grandchild Javon Stovall, great-grandchild Kindrey Ackerman, and siblings Roy Wenman, Laverne Flansburg, Stasha Jones, Art Wenman, Jim Wenman, Lynn Wenman, Della Hartvigsen, Bob Wenman, Dale, Bonnie, Donnie, Lloyd, and Floyd Wenman.

Paul Roberts Update

On Monday January 23, 2023 Paul had surgery at the University of Iowa Hospital for colorectal cancer which had been diagnosed in 2022.  The surgeon said the procedure went as planned.  She removed the section of bowel where the tumor was and stitched the ends together.  They had also seen some cancerous spots on the liver but after four rounds of chemo infusions followed by 25 days of radiation/oral chemo, they could no longer visualize any of those spots on ultrasound at the time of surgery!!   He is happy to be home now, 6 days post surgery and on the road to recovery.  He still needs 8 rounds of chemo infusion later in the year to finish out that treatment.

Julie Roberts, Paul’s wife

Class Reunions – What We Have that Counts


In anticipation of our 50-year reunion, we’re sharing this article written by the late Lynn Wisman of Mason City, Iowa. Lynn gave us a lot to think about this year.

Months later, when nothing remained but the memories and the expensive black dress I couldn’t afford, it came to me. The thought had surfaced more than once and I turned away from it, told myself it wasn’t true.

But truth doesn’t die and the truth then and now is that high school reunions do not begin as an opportunity to see old classmates. That is how they end.

Ten years after graduation, it’s about what we “have.” I have this estate … this boat … this degree … this job … this six-figure income … live in this suburb … have this membership . . have great abs … children in private schools … have a Porsche … a great handicap in golf … a personal trainer … this summer cottage … this girlfriend. Say, by the way, do you fool around? Hey, just joking. But seriously, did you come alone?

A 20-year reunion is when the Haves still have it, but . . . still have most of my hair . . . worried about the company downsizing … but she’s fat now … he’s an alcoholic … going broke paying alimony to three wives … but can’t change horses in the middle of the stream … had this operation … but they’re implants … they live so far away … but saving for retirement now … lost out to a younger exec. Say, you look great! Always had this crush on you. Did you say you’re here alone?

The 30-year reunion is when it starts to shine: It’s the year the Haves check it at the door. What we have isn’t important anymore. It’s important to be here, to see you, to see him, to see her. To remember the fun … Hi- Dive … Senior Week … the tug of war … the prom … the beer parties … the broken curfews … the souped-up cars … Senior Skip Day … the night Buddy Holly died. To remember pleated skirts and saddle shoes and the hangout where we smoked our first cigarette and felt sophisticated.

We were doing head counts long before the 40th reunion. Many of our classmates are gone now, never to attend a reunion again. Some of the Haves are now Have-Nots: wear a pacemaker … use a walker … can’t golf like I used to … doctor said it was too much steak and booze . . . have a new heart … the bank foreclosed when the company folded … look too bad in my workout gear … sure miss some of the guys that are gone now … plan to retire soon if I live that long. Say, aren’t you in the room next to me? Didn’t see your husband. Oh, he’s gone now? Sorry about that but have I got a deal for you. I take Viagra now … .

Now comes the summer of the 50th. A bittersweet time in our lives, perhaps the last time we’ll all be together again.

It may be the last reunion, the last time we’ll see our high school friends, the last time we’ll dance to the music of Buddy Holly. It may be the first time that it doesn’t matter to anyone who has what or who never had it to begin with.

The joy of having material things loses ground as the years evaporate like a silent and unwelcome ghost in the night, leaving changes that far overshadow what we have.

For it was with those once tender young hearts that we learned one of the most valued lessons in life: Friends, and the memory of what once was, are priceless possessions. It’s the one thing we all have.

You may not remember me but I remember you. And it’s good to see you. I only care that you’re here and that you seem happy. I don’t care that we are fat or thin or rich or poor. I care only about the years that are gone and the friendships we once had.

It took nearly a lifetime for all of us to understand the real value of yesterday.

Perhaps now we will better cherish the promise of tomorrow.

So, did you say you’re here alone?

Lynne Wisman is a freelance writer and photographer living in Mason City. She is the author of newspaper columns, published essays, and she writes for business and trade journals.

Holiday Letter 2022 From Chris and Martin Andersen

Woman and man standing in formal attire
Martin and Chris Andersen New Year’s Eve 2022

Dear Family and Friends,

In March of 2020, COVID-19 changed all our lives. The pandemic manifested in stages, from uncertainty and fear with lockdowns, respites, up and down infection rates; to the hope brought by vaccines and treatments; later transitioning in many peoples’ minds into an annoyance, of increasing apathy. Through diligence and luck, both Chris and I were able to avoid contracting the virus. That changed on December 13, when Chris woke up with the first “cold” symptoms she had experienced in over two years (those masks keep out all kinds of viruses). The next day’s positive test confirmed her suspicions. She finally tested negative 14 days later, having joined the estimated 90% of our fellow citizens who have been caught by COVID at least once. Thankfully her case was mild. The demoralizing part was having to spend Christmas apart from friends and family. But isolation, the annoyance of wearing masks at home, eating in separate rooms, and Martin sleeping on our living room couch for two weeks has come to an end:  it feels a little like being released from jail. Stay healthy!

We continue to ply our respective trades. Christina Andersen Floral Design is in its 23rd year; Chris has fully recovered her weekly accounts that were put on hiatus during the pandemic, and had very successful Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day traffic. Martin abides in his 44th season with New Jersey Symphony, has been teaching at Stevens Institute of Technology, and continues instructing private students. He spent a half-year as NJSO musician committee chair helping hammer out a new five-year labor agreement, ratified by his colleagues short of a strike on the cusp of the orchestra’s 100th anniversary season Gala. In July Martin played (literally) a bit part in a Leonard Bernstein biopic film entitled Maestro, starring and directed by Bradley Cooper, produced by Martin Scorsese. It should be released later this year. 

In June we took a nice mini-vacation to Ithaca, in the New York Finger Lakes region, living for a few days at Eco Village. We hiked trails skirting its gorgeous gorges and waterfalls, and explored the Cornell University campus, as well as attractive shops, restaurants, and a big, fun farmer’s market. We had never experienced that area together – and will surely return.  

We visited Martin’s mom Ruth in Palm Springs in March; followed by Martin making his usual solo trip to visit her in July. Then in October, when mom had a fainting spell, ended up in the hospital, and was counseled that she needed an aortic heart valve replacement, Martin flew out again to be at her side for several weeks through the process of prep, surgery and recovery. It was a bit of a blow to see mom so vulnerable, considering that in her 92 years, she had seen no life-threatening health issues. She is doing well now, is still living in her own home, and has resumed her normal activities.  

In August we traveled west, first visiting Chris’ hometown of Rockford, Illinois to visit her brother Jim and wife Jeanne, sister Janet, and goddaughter Megan, husband Jake, sons Sam and Ben; also attending part of Chris’ 50th High School reunion (postponed by two years). Next, we enjoyed three weeks in Jackson Hole, Wyoming where Martin resumed performing at Grand Teton Music Festival, having skipped the previous year. 

Chris celebrated achieving the age of 70 on October 18. Actually, we had two parties, one for local friends, the other for Brooklyn relatives. For the former we had a catered affair at our apartment – yummy food, great company (everyone testing before arrival).  For the second fete, Chris cooked her mom’s Cowboy Chili recipe – really casual. Champagne at both!

We hope your Christmas and holiday season was a good one. Wishing a Happy New Year to all. 


Martin and Chris