Before the parade passes by

Because my sister Kathy (a middle child) retired mid-week, mid-semester, mid-pandemic, she might have slipped away unnoticed from the job she loved.

But, her team of coworkers, friends and family weren’t about to let that happen. On Wednesday, we all gathered for a surprise retirement parade past her house on a perfect May afternoon, made even more beautiful by an overwhelming outpouring of love and support.

As I have mentioned before, Kathy retired for health reasons due to the stage 4 breast cancer she’s been battling for the past four years. While she is excited about this new phase in her life and the cool volunteering opportunities she plans to pursue, she left her 29-year teaching career (mostly at Menomonee Falls High School) reluctantly and only because her medical team advised her to do so.

So it felt really good for all of us to see her school district come out in force to say their goodbyes. More than 50 cars carrying custodians, secretaries, educational assistants, teachers, coaches, administrators and a superintendent on his motorcycle all showed up to honor Kathy. In addition, friends (at least one from her days as a Xavier high school student), family members (in-laws and outlaws), and her gloved and masked up mother (who has been an extra vigilant germaphobe in the wake of COVID-19) joined the parade.

I took a ridiculous amount of photos and, though I’ve narrowed them down considerably, I am still adding a bunch to this post because the pictures speak far more eloquently than I.

Thank you very much once again to the Menomonee Falls School District and especially Director of Quality and Analytics (and Kathy’s doubles partner) Suzy Thomas, who helped organize the whole thing, and to everyone else who showed up to honor Kathy.

Suzy Thomas and my sister’s fathead.
Team Kathy gearing up in the staging area, a church parking lot around the corner from her house.
My compulsively polite brother in-law Keith was able to keep the parade a secret from my sister, even though he made these signs ahead of time. So sweet!
Kathy was very surprised.
And delighted!
And had a little trouble keeping her mask on. (I was using a long lens and everyone else stayed even farther away than I was.)
Grandma Peggy, on the other hand, wore her mask all the way down to Milwaukee, throughout the parade, and back. Well done!
Family members Trenette and Shara.
Our sister Jenny, brother in-law Brian and niece Erin.
Our sister in-law Robin (and Guy Fieri).
My brother and sister in-law Steve and Cary.
Hey! Who let a Bear’s fan into the parade?! This is Eric, Alternative Education teacher, and his daughter. Good thing we’re in the off season!
Maggie (Social Studies) and Michelle (Reading and Literacy Coach)
Felicia – School Social Worker and fellow Cancer survivor
Brenda – Math and Computer Science
Liz – English
Jeff – Head Custodian
Bobby – Physics, claims Kathy fired him from his Library Duty position for being too loud. She says he was.
Mike – Social Studies, Katie – Tech Dept.
Lisa – Business, Sara – Business, Katie – Tech Department
Kimberly – Spanish
Winnebago County Judge (and nearly lifelong family friend) John Jorgensen.
Beth – Health Room Assistant. She and Kathy go all the way back to Kathy’s first years at Menomonee Falls.
Educational assistant Karla and Harvey, a custodian at the high school.
Menomonee Falls Schools Superintendent Corey Golla.
Kirk – Associate Principal
Jody – Education Assistant, Amy Educational Assistant

20 thoughts on “Before the parade passes by

  1. Most impressive retirement recognition I have ever see, and, obviously well deserved. Had I known about this, I WOULD HAVE JOINED this parade. It is so great to see Kathy’s surprised face and her beautiful smile.
    Well done!
    And, once again, thanks, Laura.

    1. Mrs. Wiz – I’m teaching Traveain one new Spanish word/phrase a day. During the parade, I yelled Gracias and Te Amo to each Spanish teacher that drove past. Thank you so much for being one of my favorites!


  2. I should have let you know! Sorry about that. She would have been thrilled to see you drive past.

  3. Kathy is just an amazing person! I was so blessed to have worked with her in the Falls. She deserves this parade and more for her retirement. All my love, and well wishes to Kathy!

    Maybe we can get in trouble together since I am retiring in June!

    Miss you & love you – Lyn Deiss

    1. Congratulations Lyn! We’ll definitely have to cause some trouble as soon as we can! Love you!


    1. Thanks Liza! I am really looking forward to reading your new book! Thank you for being such a great supporter of the MFHS Book Club!


  4. What a wonderful tribute to a dedicated teacher. We wish we had been there in person (covered up like Grandma Peggy), but we were there is spirit. Thanks, Laura, for the great pictures that made us feel a part of the celebration and allowed us to see Kathy’s reaction, Love to all, Uncle Steve and Aunt Doris

    1. Thanks Aunt Doris!! Laura’s pictures definitely captured my surprise. I had quite a day!


  5. Kathy deserves this parade and so much more! I worked with her for over 10 years and loved every minute of it!!

    1. Thanks Sandy! I would not have survived my first library years without you! I wanted to bring you with me when I moved to the High School. I have so many great memories of our years together. Now that we’re both retired, we will be able to see each other more (post-pandemic, of course)


  6. Congratulations, Kathy! You have made a tremendous impact on so many lives. I was so lucky to work as your right hand (wo)man for two years. Why on earth did I leave your sunshine to join Tech? Ah, maybe so my nephew, Cody, could have a chance to have the absolute best boss in the history of work – you! Sorry, I can’t help but gush, and I wouldn’t have missed the parade for the world had I known.
    I wish you heath, relaxation, and frequent trips south during the bitter cold of Wisconsin winter. If you ever get bored and want to reminisce about the the years when students accessed technology in COWs and labs, and when we started the first MFHS Geek Squad hit me up. I can’t pop in at MFHS anymore to see you, but I bet we both are pretty darn good at video conferencing.
    Love ya!

    1. I was lucky to have you by my side, Joy! You were such a great resource for me both at school and when I was home recovering from my surgeries. (Traveain and I remember the Kopp’s custard deliveries!!) Hopefully we’ll see each other soon so we can eat custard, talk tech and reminisce about the early days of the Tech Force. (Did you know that two of the originals got married???)

  7. Congratulations Kathy!
    We miss you and wish you ALL the best in your retirement.❤️Tim & Cheri Andresek

  8. Thank you Tim and Cheri – What a nice surprise to see your comment on the blog!! I hope you both are well. I miss seeing you both – hopefully we can get together soon!

    Kathy (Cap’an)

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