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
Elmer Gordon, interviewed by Beverly Himsel - April 9, 1972
Mrs. Herman "Lottie" Grabandt, interviewed by Marion R. B. Sweet (Mrs. Elliott H. Sweet) - March 21, 1972
Anita Meyer, interviewed by D. meyer - March 21, 1972
Mrs. H.P. "Calla" Weiland, interviewed by Alice Retrum - March 22, 1972
Ernest R. Zingg - March 22, 1972
Mrs. G.F. "Dora" Gust, interviewed by Molly Freitag - March 23, 1972
Note that Dora Gust was interviewed again below in 1977
Joseph Henderson (Uncle Joe), interviewed by Jay Henderson and Molly Freitag - March 23, 1972
Note that Joseph Henderson was interviewed again below in 1978
James Sharer and Clara Sharer, interviewed by John Scharer - March 23, 1972
Mrs. Edna Stewart, interviewed by Barb Sweet - March 23, 1972
Mrs. Olga Winkelman, interviewed by Molly Freitag - March 23, 1972
Mrs. William "Paula" Hefty, interviewed by Marion R. B. Sweet (Mrs. Elliot H. Sweet) - March 24, 1972
Mr. Alex Miller Sr., interviewed by Marlene Freitag - March 27, 1972
Mrs. V.I. Lillesand, interviewed by J B. Burke - March 28, 1972
Bill Matts - March 28, 1972
Orville Himsel, interviewed by Mrs. Eldon Himsel - April 3, 1972
Charles Stampfl - recounting of an interview with him by Mrs. Steve Slattery - May 31, 1972
Rudy Wuthrich, interviewed by Betty Zurbuchen - April 4th, 1972.
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
Governor Martin Schreiber
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.
Verona World War II Veteran Interviews 2001-2003, by Karl Curtis and the Verona Press.
Karl did a wonderful interview series of articles with many Verona area WWII veterans. Included are:
Merlin " Dutch " Becker
Joseph " Joe " Downs
Lawrence "Doc" Lemanski
Florence Williams Cerrato, Sally Olson, Margie Eastwood, Cecelia Raleigh.
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. Marv’s maternal grandparents lived on this 160-acre Land Grant farm on the near west side of Verona. About half the original land was eventually sold. His folks took over the dairy operation around 1918. For almost a decade he worked as a ‘hired’ for his folks before marrying Delores and then buying the farm from his parents. It was Marv’s 40-acre parcel where the West End apartments are and the new Verona High School is being built. He continued raising dairy cows and their milk was sold to the University of Wisconsin.
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.
Doris lived on a farm in rural west Verona and spent her first three school years at West Middleton Grade School. It was then her parents Lena (Eberhardt) and Rudy moved their 4 children to South Shuman in downtown Verona where their 5th sibling was born. Her father was well-known and respected as a mechanic for Niglis Implements “because he could fix anything”. Doris shares her wonderful humor and memories of growing up in the village from ice skating on top the nearby village Pump House to setting pins at Fischl’s bowling alley.
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.
Anna May grew up on Nesbitt Road on a farm that was divided by both Highway 18/151 and the railroad tracks (now Military Ridge Trail). Currently Barnes Landscaping owns part of the acreage where her parents Walter and Helene Elizabeth (Mauer) Herrington farmed. All of her years have been spent in the Verona area so in this interview she shares many memories of familiar people and places that most listeners will recognize. She attended Maple Grove and then Verona Area High School. After graduating she worked for the University Hospital until her marriage four years later. Her marriage ‘united’ the Mauer family of northeast Verona to her husband Julian’s family on the west side (County G). She and Julian spent nearly 30 years farming on Riverside Road before retiring and building a comfortable house on Barbara Street in the city.
Bernice is one of our oldest interviewees, 98, who was born in Verona. With her sharp memory, she vividly recalls all her neighbors during her childhood on 302 Shuman Street. Her father Jerome was the rural mail carrier for Verona (1912 to 1940). One of her favorite memories was to be able to ride on the cutter when her father returned from his route. Her grandfather had built a house across Shuman, the ‘White’ house which was moved during Miller’s store expansion. When asked if she could just run down the street to her grandparents, she exclaimed, “Oh, no, I wasn’t allowed to cross the street because there was too much swift traffic” (because of the bustling activity at the mill and other businesses near the Auditorium).
One of Bernice's daughters shared another quick note with us in Fall of 2020: "(Bernice) used to say that when they (her family) rode the mail route with their father, they made it a game among the sisters to name the husband, wife and all of the children at each of the stops on the route. I guess she started training her good memory at a young age!"
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.
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.