Remembering Rod

Rod Nilsestuen was more than just the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) Secretary; he was a leader that I looked up to. I had the honor of working at DATCP  for five years, all while he was the Secretary. Although I left to work for another state agency over a year ago, I still hold a special place in my heart for Rod.

Rod’s vision for agriculture in Wisconsin was to preserve that which we take for granted nowadays: the importance of us working the land to help it work for us. How often do we think about the farmers that grow the ingredients and produce that we buy at the supermarket, the milk that comes in a bottle, or the meat that we find in the butcher shop? But it’s not just the importance of agriculture, but making it matter to Wisconsin. Today, Wisconsin is America’s Dairyland because we produce the most artisan cheeses in the country (perhaps even the world). We had the first mandatory livestock premises registration law to protect animal health. It recently passed working lands initiatives to help preserve agricultural acreage. And we have some of the strongest consumer protection laws. All of these occurred under Rod’s leadership as the Secretary of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. I was happy to be a part of it.

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Remembering Gordon

Gordon, Genevieve, Isabel, Madeline, and CharlieMy sister’s father in law, Gordon, passed away during the evening of March 26. He is survived by his wife, his son, and his three grandchildren, as well as many family and friends.

Genevieve, his wife, described him as an artist, an athlete, a Marine, a police officer, detective, and lieutenant. She also described him as a friend, husband, father, grandfather, dog lover, and car afficionado (especially Mercedes Benz). Although Gordon had many facets of his life, he was also an incredible human being and a really good guy, and I am fortunate to have been a part of his life.

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Indian tragedy

What happened in Mumbai, India last week is truly a tragedy. As we learn more about the incident, I want to clearly condemn the terror that happened at the Taj Mahal Hotel. It’s amazing, because I stood not far from there only a few years ago. But I also think that India is taking the appropriate steps in trying to handle the crisis. Today’s post is dedicated to those lost in the Mumbai tragedy.

CNN coverage of Mumbai Terror

Remembering Tim Russert

One of my guilty pleasures is watching Meet the Press on NBC. I enjoyed watching Tim Russert help viewers understand the world of American politics and get at the heart of what some of the experts, politicians, and other guests were really telling us. His death yesterday is a serious loss in the world of the political press. He was a true gentleman. He was a fine political analyst and a fantastic moderator. He was a genuine person. The world has lost a great man.

I dedicate this post to Tim Russert’s family, friends, coworkers, and fans. May his legacy live on.

Trek Bike founder dies

Trek Bicycle co-founder Richard Dick Burke died of complications from cardiac surgery at the age of 73. He started the company to bring the glory of bicycle design and quality back to the United States. With a total of five employees, Trek Bicycles began building in a small red pole barn in Waterloo, Wisconsin. The movement he began eventually led to one of the most successful bicycles in the last 30 years. Lance Armstrong won Le Tour de France a record seven times, each time on a production Trek bicycle.

Trek is a Wisconsin-based company, so I have a special place in my heart for the company and its bike offerings. Dick Burke started his company while living in Milwaukee (my hometown). Waterloo is only miles from where I live now. Since I started riding again, I bought a Trek hybrid bike after trying out a number of different brands. Even after I realized that I prefer road bike riding, I tried out a handful of different bikes and fell in love with a Trek. So, yeah, the company that Mr. Burke started has a special place in my heart, all because of his vision.

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In remembrance: Virginia Tech

The terrible tragedy that ocurred at Virginia Tech University on Monday, April 16, should never have happened. It’s sad that it can happen anywhere, and our society needs to realize that violence never solves our problems. My thoughts go out to the victims and their families and loved ones. This blog entry is dedicated to them and to all of us that work hard for peace.

Remembering Pearl Harbor

On December 7, 1941, Japanese bombers and fighters destroyed 21 American battleships stationed on Hawaii’s Pearl Harbor and killed over 2,000 soldiers. Yesterday marked the 65th anniversary of this tragedy. The memory of what happened still haunts us today. It should be a glaring reminder to us that our actions set the stage for world events, no matter how small, and that we are never invulnerable. I dedicate this blog to all of the veterans that continue to fight for liberty and against tyranny.

Pearl Harbor Memorial: History

Lands’ End founder Gary Comer dies

It wasn’t just another clothing seller; it was a new way of doing business. Gary Comer, Lands’ End founder, built his business on the idea of developing a relationship with his customers. Lands’ End did not achieve its excellence only by the quality of its casual and professional clothing, but also for its excellent customer service. He once stated, “We believe that what is best for our customer is best for all of us.”

Working for Lands’ End as a part-time service associate, I am sad to see Comer’s passing. He was a true pioneer in both developing a better product and developing better service. His achievements should not be overlooked, and his spirit should continue to live on within the Lands’ End product. Anything short of excellent quality and customer service is an insult to his name and to the brand.

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Milwaukee loses great leader

Former Milwaukee Mayor Frank Zeidler died on Friday, July 7, at the age of 93. He was a principled mayor that served from 1948 to 1960. He lived by his principles until his final moments, and he will always be remembered for his generosity.

I had the honor of meeting Frank Zeidler when I was still in school. He came and spoke to one of my classes. Even at the age of 87, he was sharp and insightful, and he offered so many important lessons, such as taking care of those that need it, speaking out against war (this was before 9/11, mind you), and smart urban growth. It was truly remarkable to learn from one of Milwaukee’s greatest leaders.

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