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Verona Longtime Resident and Veteran Interviews, Events

NOTE:  Some of these recordings will play in your browser, but some of the larger ones make you download the file first.

Welcome to our online archive of audio interviews!

Many of the earliest interviews in our archive were done on cassette tape in 1972 when various older Verona Residents were interviewed about their early memories here - some dating back to the late 1800's.  This was done to provide material for a play that was to be produced about Verona in honor of our 125th anniversary that year.  
These stories provide a very personal look back Verona's past.

In 2016 we began a new initiative to interview additional longtime residents and area veterans.  Let us know if you have folks in mind who might be up for being interviewed, or who might volunteer to do interviews today.

1970s through 1980s

  • Norman Fischl - Date Unknown, possibly late 1970's.
  • Clara Govier, interviewed by Susan B - Mar 2, 1977

  • Dora Gust interviewed at Four Winds in 1977
    • Note that Dora Gust was interviewed earlier above in 1972.
  • Verona Varieties, "Oh What a Night" April 21 and 23, 1977 - Tape 1
  • Verona Varieties, "Oh What a Night April 21 and 23, 1977 - Tape 2
  • Joseph Henderson (Uncle Joe) and Jay Henderson - April 13, 1978
    • Note that Joseph Henderson was interviewed earlier above in 1972.
  • Keith Miller's Roast - April 1980
  • Ralph Jacobs, History of the Verona Public Library - Sept 24, 1980
  • R. Herbison, interviewed by Susan Bleimehl - August 1, 1983
  • Pauline Elise (Batker) Schwenn Field, interviewed by Ruth Jensen - May 4, 1988.  Findagrave link.
  • Governor Martin Schreiber
  • Margaret Wilson
  • Olga Winkelman - take 2
  • Herman Grabant talks to schoolchildren about Verona History - Date unknown, possibly earlier than 1970

1990s through early 2000s

Ernie Johnson, date of interview unknown but likely around 2008.  Ernie was village president of Verona from 1953 to 1957, a longtime barber, and friend to most of the village and later city.

2016 and Beyond

We began a new effort in 2016 to capture more stories...

William E. Kunstman - Interviewed 7/7/2016.  Mr. Kunstman was an army tech sergeant in WWII from 1941-1946 serving in the 100th infantry division.

Warren Webster - Interviewed 7/21/2016. Mr. Webster was born in Reedsburg, WI in April of 1915 and was 101 years old during this interview.  He was a pilot in WWII, serving in the 406 Fighter Group and its 514 squadron.  He moved to Canada in 1940 to join the Royal Canadian Air Force, where he became a flight instructor.  He came back to the United States in 1944 and served in the Air Force in 1944/45 in Europe flying P47 Fighter Bombers.  His service included being part of American forces pushing back Germans at the battle of the bulge.  He moved to Verona, WI around 2006.

Viola House - Interviewed 10/28/16.  Mrs. House has lived in Verona since the 1950s.  She reflects on some of the Verona landmarks and traditions she recalls, her two decades working in the Verona Schools' cafeteria, and a few thoughts on how the city has changed in the last half century.

John Scharer - Interviewed November 27, 2016 by Jesse Charles.  John moved to Verona in May of 1936 at the age of four and grew up living and working in "The Eagle's Nest" - an iconic Verona bar and restaurant which stood on our main intersection from around 1850 to 1970.  As a young man John came in contact with countless Verona "Characters" from all walks of life, and recalls them in detail.  He was drafted into the Korean War on 3/29/1951 and was discharged on 3/21/1952.  He was trained in the First Armored Division in Fort Hood Texas, but served in Korea as part of the Army's Third Infantry Division north of the 38th parallel near Chorwon.  John was present at the Battle of Pork Chop Hill and in the area known as "The Iron Triangle". 

Virginia "Ginny" (Marty) Witt - Interviewed Feb 5, 2017 by Jesse Charles.  Virginia grew up on the Marty farm on the north side of Verona.  She attended the Gordon School in the 1930s, following its reconstruction after the 1928 tornado.  Ginny recalls farm life, complete with stories like being pulled to school on a sled behind a tractor after a snowstorm.

Pete Way - Interviewed March 5, 2017 by Jesse Charles.  Pete grew up in Mount Vernon just west of Verona, and served in the Navy on an air craft carrier during the Korean War.  Pete described growing up in the rural countryside, as well as the day to day life on a Navy ship.

Bill Rettenmund - Interviewed 5/13/17.  Bill has lived in Verona since the 1990's, having grew up in Black Earth, WI.  He was drafted into the army in May of 1965 and trained as a helicopter mechanic and crew chief.  Bill landed in Vietnam in February of 1966 as part of  the 162nd Assault Helicopter Company "The Vultures", which belonged to the 11th Aviation Company.  Through January of 1967 he flew air assault and transport missions on a D-model Huey helicopter from a base camp in Phouc Vinh.
Bill discusses surviving two helicopter crashes in 1966, the first being caused by contact with a pole and the second from hitting a berm on takeoff.  On June 13, 1966 Bill was injured by shrapnel during a mortar attack and received a purple heart.

Richard "Dick" Doerfer - Interviewed 8/2/17.  Dick was well known to many Verona residents in many capacities:  First, for his large family farm located just East of Verona on Whalen Road.  Second, for the various civic hats he wore throughout his life including president of the Verona School Board and also town treasurer.  Dick recalls farming throughout the years and other facets of Verona life from decades gone past.

Marv Thompson - Interviewed May 5, 2017 by Ruth Witt Jensen.  Marv grew up on a farm on the west side of Verona, near where Nine Mound Road intersects West Verona Avenue.

Mary Fritz - Interviewed July 1, 2017 by Jessica Popp.

Maurer Family - Interviewed  August 6, 2017.  The Maurer family has been a fixture in Verona back to the early 1900s when Heinrich Maurer (born in Germany around 1860) and his wife Anna settled on to a farm on Maple Grove Road (where Chavez Elementary is today).  Several generations grew up on that farm and in the surrounding area and have witnessed and been involved in many aspects of life in Verona for over a century.  In this interview, we sat down with Heinrich's grandsons Ray and Len Maurer, Len's wife Judy, and Heinrich's great granddaughter Diane Maurer to talk about their early family history and memories they have from growing up here.

Doris Waldman - Interviewed August 7 and 11, 2017 by Ruth Witt Jensen.

Herman Duerst - Interviewed January 21, 2018 by Jesse Charles.  See also this written account of Herman's military years, provided by his daughter Sue.  Herman grew up in southern Verona and various nearby communities.  He describes his memories from growing up, as well as training as a paratrooper for WWII.

Anna May (Herrington) Rhiner, interviewed July 3, 2018 by Ruth Witt Jensen.

Bernice (Synon) Hughes, part one - Interviewed by Ruth Witt Jensen on  6/7/2018, and later for part two on 8/30/2018

Gladys (Zingg) Behnke, interviewed by Jesse Charles on 8/11/2019.  Gladys's grandfather Fred Zingg immigrated from Switzerland, eventually settling in Verona with wife Ella around 1900.  Gladys's father Ernest R. Zingg was born in 1900, later moving to New Glarus where Gladys was born in 1928.  Gladys and her parents moved back to the Zingg farm in Verona on the northwest corner of highway M and Cross Country in 1937 when she was nine years old.  In this interview, Gladys discusses growing up on the farm, attending the Verona Graded School and working at the original Dane County Poor House and Asylum from 1946 to 1948.  She would also later return to working at both institutions later in life until retiring in 1990.  Gladys saw life at the poor house and asylum first hand, and shared her memories of patients and other employees with us.

Phil and Laura Roethlisberger, interviewed by Jesse Charles on 9/8/2019.   Phil grew up attending our Valley View rural school and Laura attended the White School, which still stands on land donated to the township by her great grandfather and pioneer settler Solomon White. They talked about growing up on a farm, their experiences in various Verona schools and other social events, as well as they themselves being farmers for many decades.