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Wisconsin High School
55th Reunion – July 24 – 25, 2015
BIO: Robert Van Norman Whitford
Received: July 16, 2015
Wife: Alma Rodríguez, who visited Chicago after graduating from college in Puerto Rico and decided to stay the winter just to see snow. Married 42 years. As our punster son commented, “All she got was a flake”. Alma is now retired, but was a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, turned administrator as Deputy Director of Community Schools for the Children’s Aid Society in New York City.
Son: Ken, 39, is transitioning into real estate. He has given us three grandchildren, who all live
Daughter: Tanya, 37, has a personal organizing business in Burbank; She has given us two granddaughters.
Son: Bryan, 35, who teaches Spanish outside Washington, D.C. has given us two granddaughters, as well.
Sister: Ann Whitford Paul, WHS ’59, lives in Los Ángeles. She writes children’s books and has
BA in Spanish, UW, ’65 MA in Spanish, Roosevelt Univ., ’70 Discovering Spanish at the UW was a life-changing experience: my life was defined in Spanish 1-A starting my sophomore year. It was Mexico with the American Friends Service Committee for five months in ’62, followed by semester 3 of Spanish in Madison; then a Junior Year in Spain. Bilingual social work in Chicago ’66-’68 as alternative service as a conscientious objector. Married to Alma ’68. Teaching in Chicago. 10 years in international insurance business, with 2½ years in Bolivia and one in Spain. And ever since 1983, the profession and vocation of interpreting, most of it in legal and court settings. Simultaneous interpreting still gives me a buzz. Life-long sense of outrage in the face of racism, social injustice and the stupidity of the creeping, albeit triumphant military-industrial-congressional complex.
I am eternally grateful for the ONE day of Spanish the WHS. I was freaked out by the infantile and embarrassing having to stand back-to-back with another Robert to see who was to be Roberto and who had to be Robertito. So I went back for 3rd and 4th year Latin. In spite of the fact that I was 50% of the class, I apparently made no impression on Miss Weightman: I was working at the Memorial Union shortly thereafter and took her ticket at the door but was completely unrecognized. The memories of cross-country practice and running on beautiful autumn afternoons on Picnic Point are engraved in my mind. Also the horror I felt when I was listening to classical music in the library and one of my classmates came over and bore down on the needle, destroying the record.
After graduation, when WHS was closing, Ms Arveson stayed with my parents in Pennsylvania for several days as she was looking for a new job. (She eventually went to Nicolet HS near Milwaukee)