Thursday, July 28, 2016

A Little Graaskamp Center History

When I arrived at Wisconsin in 1990, two years after Jim Graaskamp's death, Wisconsin's Center for Urban Land Economics (CULER) lay fallow after the active years under Richard Ratcliff and Richard Andrews.  CULER, of course, later became the James A. Graaskamp Center for Real Estate.

As detailed in a previous post, Kerry Vandell arrived in 1989 to rebuild the program, followed in 1990 by myself, Jim Shilling and Richard Green.  Kerry decided to re-constitute the Center, with help from Richard Green and Rod Matthews.  Other supporters, including Bill Malkasian and Mike Theo and their Wisconsin Realtors Association, and state legislator David Clarenbach, stepped up.

In 1992, Governor Tommy Thompson cut a ceremonial ribbon to re-open the Center.  Pictured, left to right:  Jim Shilling, Governor Thompson, Jean Davis (Jim Graaskamp's life and professional partner), Marjorie Tiefenthaler (who donated a major chair in honor of her husband Lorin and herself), myself (pre-gray hair), Kerry Vandell, and Richard Green.

Here's a little tidbit.  Governor Thompson arrived early that day.  All by himself, no entourage whatsoever.

For whatever reason the only person around with an open door was me.

If I may channel what I'm sure he was thinking:  "I'm too early, how do I not waste this downtime?  Aha, a constituent!  A voter!"

So he popped in, put out his hand and said, "Hi, I'm Tommy Thompson."  We had the nicest chat for 10 minutes or so until other folks showed up.

Something that would never happen in 2016, I think.

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