Madison College prides itself on being, as its motto claims, “real world smart.” It is the establishment where thousands of people of all ages come every year to kick off their education, get practical training, or figure out what they want to do with their lives. It has a lot to offer anybody, but for one family, Madison College has offered them everything from lifelong employment and opportunity to lifelong love.
Travis Wiersma, 47, has been a second shift custodian here at Madison College for 10 years. He recently became engaged to Aimee Althof, 46, a clerical associate in the mailroom at Truax. The two met in the fall of 2012 when they were both asked to be union representatives at the gala celebrating the 100-year anniversary of Madison College. They plan to get married later this year and when they do, they will become the third generation of spouses in Travis’s family to meet through Madison College.
Travis’s mother Sandra Fuller, 66, met her former husband, Glen Wiersma, when they were both attending Madison Central High School.
“That was back in the 60’s when the guys wore tshirts with their cigarettes rolled up in them, rolling around outside in their big, black cars with the doowop on the radio,” said Sandra.
Madison Central High School used to be located next to the Madison Vocational School. The high school was torn down in 1986 leaving only an arch to remember it by, but the vocational school remains and was renamed Madison Area Technical College, currently referred to as the downtown campus. “That building has always meant a lot to us,” Sandra said. “Because we really never left it. On weekends we would go up and my dad would put us to work in the bookstore marking books. It was just in our blood.”
Sandra’s mother, Beatrice “Bea” Frederickson was a single, divorced mother of five in her late 30s when she decided to attend the vocational school to get her Licensed Practical Nursing degree, which was a one year program at the time. There, she met the person she would spend the rest of her life with, Nicholas Spyros. Nicholas was the bookstore manager at the vocational school for nearly 40 years. He and Bea dated, got married, and the rest is history.
Sandra recently retired from her job as an enrollment specialist at Madison College after 24 years of service. She has been married to her current husband Bob Fuller, 61, for 37 years. Bob also attended Madison Central High School in his youth, and when he was laid off from Bancroft Dairy he earned his technical diploma in Motorcycle, Marine and Outdoor Power Products through Madison College.
Many other members of this family have gone through Madison College at various times in their lives, including Travis’s two sons Dakota Wiersma, 22 and Seth Wiersma, 19. Aimee’s daughter Allison Althof, 23, is currently enrolled in the liberal arts program. “There’s been somebody in and out of MATC for a long time,” Sandra said.
In keeping with tradition, as this family seems fond of doing, Travis and Aimee will be engaged on the eighth day of the eighth month of 2015 (Aug. 8, 2015) because the anniversary of their first date and first kiss contains an eight, and both of their birth dates contain the number eight as well. Sandra and Bob’s wedding anniversary also falls in August. “We decided to stick with the eight theme because the eights have been working for us,” Travis said.
So happy Valentine’s Day to this large family steeped in the rich history of Madison College, and congratulations to the bride and groom to be. May Madison College continue to bring love and success to all of the future members of your family.