At the end of each semester, alumni from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire are selected to receive awards from the UW-Eau Claire Alumni Association. A total of eight awards will be presented on May 23 at a luncheon and ceremony in conjunction with spring commencement.
Dennis Loney, John Skoug, and Tom and Jeannie Flesch will receive the Lifetime Excellence Award, which is presented to UW-Eau Claire alumni who have demonstrated long-time and successful commitment to their careers and communities. These individuals have made a positive and dramatic impact through enthusiastic dedication to service and living their lives as a testimony to UW-Eau Claire's motto, "Excellence." See the full list of award recipients.
Loney, Skoug, and Tom and Jeannie Flesch share their history and advice to graduating Blugolds.
Dennis Loney '69, speech
"In the 1970s while working for Travelers Ins. Co., I co-authored the first Group Legal Plan in the country. As president of the Vernon Jaycees, we raised funds for our community and organizations such as the Juvenile Diabetes Association and Special Olympics. During my presidency, I was honored to receive the Connecticut Jaycee Statesmen Award.
For 28 years, I worked for the Walt Disney Company and implemented many worksite wellness programs, including the largest worksite Employee Assistance Program. Achieving Disney's Lifetime Achievement Award, Partners in Excellence, was the highlight of my career.
When Orange County Government appointed me to the Local Health Council of Central Florida, I spent eight years focusing on serious health care issues in our community.
On a national level, I was a trustee for the Employers' Managed Health Care Organization, a member of the Washington Business Group on Health and a member of the National Medicare Educational Program.
For 20 years, I was vice president for the Florida Health Care Coalition. Our focus was to work with area medical providers to reduce medical costs, improve quality outcomes and eliminate waste. Today our area hospitals are ranked nationally. I also worked with area providers and pharmaceutical companies to host an annual, free, Senior Expo for Central Florida retirees to receive free wellness screenings, which remains a popular event."
Dennis' advice to the new Blugold alumni:
"John Lennon said, 'Life is what happens while you are busy making plans,' which certainly describes my journey.
Bravo, graduates, on your achievement today and best wishes as you begin your next journey. What I have learned is that my dreams and destinations were not as important as my journey. That my achievements or my profession were not as important as the people in my life. For when 'life happens' it is the people in your life who will be there for you, not the trophies, awards or plaques packed away in boxes.
Another John, John Wood, said 'your ordinary life has an extraordinary purpose.' I challenge you to find that purpose, that passion in your life and become the best version of yourself in all that you do! Enjoy your journey!"
John Skoug '75, accounting
"My career began at Wipfli, Regional CPAs in Wausau, and I advanced to senior manager during my 10 years there.
I joined Marathon Cheese Corporation/Goldbach companies in 1987 in Marathon. Presently, I am the chairman and CEO of Marathon Cheese Corporation and Packaging Tape, Inc., president of the Raymond and Marie Goldbach Foundation, Inc., and Goldbach Investments, Inc. I also hold or have held leadership positions with the Northcentral Technical College Foundation, United Way of Marathon County, Community Foundation of Northcentral Wisconsin, Performing Arts Foundation, Marathon Area Swim Association, Junior Achievement-Northcentral District, Wausau Hospital, Inc., M &I Bank-Wausau, and the Green Bay Packers.
I grew up on the Chippewa River where I did a lot of fishing. Once I graduated from UWEC I got away from it as the hours at the CPA firm were quite demanding and we were raising our family, which was a high priority for both of us.
We've had a summer home in Minocqua for quite some time, which has allowed me to get back into fishing, including Muskie fishing. The summer home has also been a great draw for our two daughters, their husbands and our eight grandchildren, relatives and friends. I find the time I spend there to be a welcome respite from the challenges and sometimes stress of the day-to-day responsibilities. It has been a great experience that all who come enjoy immensely."
John's advice to the new Blugold alumni:
"Look for your passion. Look for a career that you really have a strong interest in or that truly moves you. Maintain a positive attitude. It is extremely important in your growth and can be contagious.
Treat people with respect and dignity regardless of their position. Be kind, appreciative, thankful, compassionate, caring, gracious and humble. Give back to the community, whether financially or with your time. Get involved with charities. Make a difference in peoples' lives who are less fortunate than you. Make sure your word is as good as gold. Integrity and honesty are critical."
Tom and Jeannie Flesch
Tom '74, business administration and economics
Jeannie '73, business education
Mr. Flesch is the president and CEO of Gordon Flesch Co. Inc., the nation's largest independent office equipment dealership. His father, Gordon, started the company in Madison back in the late 1950s. The family-owned business has transitioned from an equipment reseller to an integrated business technology solutions provider throughout the Great Lakes region.
Tom and Jeannie Flesch, who met on campus in the early 1970s, have been longtime supporters of their alma mater. Examples of their support include endowing and supporting scholarships, supporting the Blugold Marching Band, and providing a major gift to help fund a new gateway to the campus.
In addition to their financial contributions to the university, Tom and Jeannie both have served many years as members of the UW-Eau Claire Foundation board of directors.
Advice to new Blugold alumni:
"For the new graduates, we would advise them that when they get their first job put everything you have into it. Most likely it won't be your last job, but give it all you've got. You deserve it and so does your employer. I wish I would have known more about the sales process and how challenging it really is. We spent zero time on understanding the sale, but when you get into the world you soon realize that nothing happens until something gets sold. The fact is everyone is selling something regardless of your career or position in life.
Pursing multiple passions is a great way to describe being a Blugold. Hopefully you will find someone you want to spend the rest of your life with, a job you enjoy and recreational activities you enjoy together as a couple and as a family. We've enjoyed skiing, traveling, golfing, boating, cooking and entertaining —all as a family."