Erica (Schwenn) Fox

Erica (Schwenn) Fox

Erika Schwenn Fox
Received June 15, 2010


WHS experience:  I came to WHS from Madison’s east side knowing few of my classmates.   Some significant activities continued outside of WHS:  dance classes and performances, Unitarian youth group, and a close friendship with my cousin Kathryn Seifert who went to East.  Also, I had split affiliations to my original class of ’60 and my graduating class of ’59.  But I have memories of many happy WHS experiences, e.g.: forensic competitions and one-act plays with Mary McAndrews, Jeff Kravat and others; half-court basketball in the 4th floor gym; singing with Ozzie Marshall and friends in the “Sextet;” getting to wear pants on home football days; playing lousy trombone with the boys in the back of the band; acing math exams after studying all night at Bev Mickelson’s; being invited to join SSC with Judy Rundell; and I loved diagramming sentences with Miss Springhorn!

Post WHS education & experiences:  Attended Bennington College 1959-61; continued at UW and Univ. of Hong Kong, completing BA in Sociology at BU in 1969; JD from Boston College Law School in 1974.  The “postgraduate education” that most influenced my life was as a member of the local, state and national Women’s Political Caucus, beginning in the early ‘70s.  This grounding in politics, government, organizing and leadership shaped my friendships, my life as a political activist, and my career.

Employment history:  Early work (1960-71) in social survey research; law practice and lobbyist in Kansas City MO, 1974-85.  Subsequently, I developed a public affairs department for Planned Parenthood in Missouri & Kansas, retiring as VP for Public Policy in 2002.  “Retirement” includes: singing in groups on Cape Cod, including the Falmouth Chorale for which I write grant applications; active in a Unitarian Universalist congregation, serving as communications chair; participation in Senior Environment Corps projects related to water quality, aquaculture, wildlife preservation, land management and recycling.

Family matters:  Married William Fox (Williams College ’64) in 1962.  Children: Myles (1966) and Jennifer & Alison (1970).  Myles retired from the Navy and manages a marina on Long Island Sound (CT); Jennifer works as a counselor on Cape Cod; Alison and her ex-husband run a decorative arts business in the Catskills (NY).  Grandchildren:  Sydney (age 12) and Jake (Senior at Plymouth State U in NH).

My current plans:  lose more weight, get more exercise, reduce stress; keep my husband healthy; stay out of politics, if possible; live a simpler life that is more in tune with the universe.

Parting thoughts:  Visit us on Cape Cod if you come this way.  Tell us you are coming:  508-563-3513, [email protected], or PO Box 344, Cataumet, MA 02534.


Wisconsin High School

60th Reunion – September 17, 2020

BIO:       Erika Schwenn Fox

Received:  September 8, 2020

Bill and I have lived on Cape Cod for nearly 17 years, since my retirement from Planned Parenthood in Kansas City.  Our house is on Buzzards Bay, about halfway between the canal and Woods Hole.  It is impossible to live here without becoming an environmentalist.  During the pandemic, my Senior Environment Corps projects have pushed me outside and kept me from claustrophobia:  e.g. monitoring breeding horseshoe crabs, sampling and testing local waters for oxygen and nutrients, collecting and preparing mosquitos for West Nile Virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis testing.

To help pay our real estate taxes (they charge phenomenal rates if you live on the ocean), I’ve returned to my roots in social science research.  I have a part-time job with the U.S. Census on two of their monthly household surveys.  Because I work out of my home, have flexible hours and the work is fairly interesting, it’s the perfect retirement job.  Bill pitches in too.  He teaches a course in finance to students at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy—part of the Massachusetts university system.  Unfortunately, his work as a consultant to small businesses has shut down because they can’t currently afford him.  Also, his “Fox-Robbins Show” on public access TV is dormant because the TV studio is closed.

The pandemic has also curtailed our music activities.  My usual choral singing with the UU choir, a small women’s ensemble and the Falmouth Chorale is over for the year.  They say singing spreads virus at much higher rates than just speaking.  This has been a huge loss for me and my mental health.  Happily, the Chorale is starting small (8-12) group singing, with “singing masks,” later this month.  There will be no performances but it’s better than nothing.  Bill still practices his accordion but his gigs have dried up for now.

Just when I’m feeling sorry for myself, I think “What if I were trying to work at home and had three children in the house who needed help with their remote learning?”

Speaking of children—and grandchildren, ours have managed to stay healthy despite continuing to work this year—although Alison, our scenic artist, has had slim pickings since all the theaters, operas and ballets have shut down.

And finally, we are now great-grandparents!  Our grandson Jake and wife Kelly, who live in New Hampshire, had a baby girl on Labor Day. (Perfect timing!)