Catching up with Lois Nelson, professor emerita

Lois Speaking at a PodiumLois Nelson (BSE’54, Education, Ph.D.’60, Speech), professor emerita
Years on faculty:

When I first retired in May 1996, I tried staying in bed until 9 a.m. But I grew up on a farm and sleeping in made me feel dumpy all day. So I still get up a 4:30 or 5, because it works best. You’ve got the whole day ahead of you, you can go out and breathe the air and nobody’s used it already.

I still live in Madison – on the west side, near Falk Elementary School – and I stay busy. I do a lot of gardening and also exercise twice a week (pumping iron) to keep in shape. I belong to the Participatory Learning and Teaching Organization, a nonprofit organization for retirees in Dane County who want to continue to learn. Different members put on presentations on a variety of topics, including finances, history, literature and travel.

I also volunteer at the Madison Public Library and read about 10 books a week. I usually read fiction mysteries – anyone I can find – although the book that made the greatest impact on me of late was “They Marched into Sunlight,” David Maraniss’ examination of the Vietnam War that focuses, in part, on the protests on the UW-Madison campus. That was a hard time to go through as a faculty member.

I miss teaching and the children I worked with. I worked with a lot of preschoolers with disfluencies. Sometimes you could change it in two sessions if you knew what to do, and other times it would take a year and a half because some of the causes were neurological and organic. They were good little kids who needed help, and their parents wanted help so bad. I used to stutter very severely myself, and I know my mother and father wanted help for me but there wasn’t any such thing at the time. So I majored in it as an undergraduate and then studied under the legendary Charles Van Riper at Western Michigan University before returning to Madison.

-As told to Tom Ziemer