Archived Stories

December - Medicinal Chemistry

On December 13th, Dr. Mark Paulsen, Department Head of NMU Chemistry described the new chemistry program dedicated to entrepreneurial and research-based careers in medicinal plants. A tour of the labs was also conducted by Dr. Paulsen and Dr. Lee Roecker.  The Mining Journal article, "Chemistry Meets Biology" provides an excellent summary.


October - Green Burial

The October 19th Mining Journal has a very good summary of NCLL's program "Green Burial: What is it and why should I be interested?".  'Green' burial - Eco-friendly option explored. 

August - Lessons on Immigration Prejudice

On August 17, 2018, Dr. Gabe Logan, the director of the Center for U.P. Studies and professor of History at NMU taught NCLL participants a few lessons on immigration prejudice. Through a presentation and examination of historical immigration cartoons, legal reviews questioning whether Finns were subject to the Anti-Chinese Immigration Act and articles written by Ben Franklin railing against Germans in Pennsylvania, Dr. Logan gave a perspective from the past.  Small groups of participants identified current anti-immigration rhetoric and made comparisons to history.  The Mining Journal wrote an extensive review of the class, "Immigration prejudice: Program focuses on issue, past and current" and is worth the read to see how prejudice is mostly recycled .... we just change the ethnic groups.  Have we made progress? 


March - A Visit with NMU International education services and students

Some fortunate NCLL members spent a fun and informative afternoon learning more about the NMU International Education Services Programs and five special international students. The four students and one alumnus we visited with were from Columbia (Ada), South Korea (Min), Saudi Arabia (Abdul), Jamaica (Reneika) and Venezuela (Manuel).  Their majors are biology, psychology, exercise science, bio-chemistry, and business. The program adviser Lila Isleib described some of specific programs within the department and her related work with the students. Without needing to leave her desk to travel, Lila finds working with the students is an international education itself due to the process and the interaction with the students.  It is apparent that they develop a special relationship with each other.

What were the shared observations and feelings?

Many of the experiences shared were humorous, and it would suffice to say   there is definitely an adjustment period. Many do not have a real sense of where they are going until they get here. For instance they might know they are going to the largest city in something called the U.P. and often assume it is a large populated area.  It can be culture shock when you arrive at the airport and try to contact an “uber” and then drive 20 miles before you see any lights, or a surprise when you come from a city of 10 million and find you are in a small town of 20,000.

They all agree the thing they miss the most, other than family, is the food from their home countries.  We have never heard of many of the fruits and vegetables grown in tropical climates or other countries; consequently, they are not in our grocery stores.  Some spices can be special ordered or found via the internet but it is best when they receive the special items sent in the family care packages.

Students who do not learn English in their home schools often learn by watching, listening or imitating English on TV shows or movies before they come to the U.S.  While their English may not be perfect, they sometimes feel others think they are less intelligent because of it. Hesitancy is not a matter of intelligence; they are just trying to find the right English words to express themselves.  Though this can be frustrating and hurtful, sometimes it creates additional motivation to study/try even harder.  

There is sometimes a struggle with cultural differences.  Some cultures are more demonstrative using hugs and touch to express themselves more fully.  So some students are often hesitant to interact with others because they are not sure what is normal or acceptable in a certain situation. This can sometimes make it difficult to make friends and interact with others. While it is easier and more comfortable for them to “stick together,” they inherently know that the result is better if they interact with others.

It becomes apparent these students are determined, courageous, and have a sense of adventure and want the opportunities and education that studying and living in the U.S. brings to them. Education in many European countries is free or minimal with regard to expense. For students to come to the U.S. they must pass special exams, and their families sacrifice a great deal to help them get here and pay for their education and living expenses.  Before they come to the U.S. they must prove/file special paperwork indicating they have the financial capability to be here and attend college. These five special people feel their time here has contributed to something larger in their lives. Their long term goals are to finish their studies, get their degrees and they are open to whatever the future might bring.  All agreed that wherever they end up the people they have met, the experiences they have had and the time spent at NMU and in Marquette will always be a part of who they are and their future.


How can the Marquette community get involved?

 In an effort to make their time here more complete and fulfilling, as well as give them and the community opportunities to interact, there are several ways the community members can participate.   One way is to host a student in your home for the year. Manuel (NMU alumnus) is currently working with a program that finds host families for high school exchange students.  Lila is working on the W.I.N. (Wildcat International Neighbor) program which is a mutually beneficial program for both the students and the community through learning and sharing cultures. NMU faculty, staff and alumni are asked to commit to meet with a student once a month to share some time, event, interest, hobby, or activity. The International Education Services Office is looking into the addition of local community members with this project. 

There are also events held during the year including an event called “Passport to the World” which allows the International Student to proudly represent their home country and their culture to NMU and the local Marquette community.  There is an ‘’International Food Festival” in the spring. This year it is on April 7th from 5-7p.m. at the Jacobetti Ctr. Advance tickets are $10 and can be purchased at the International Education Services Office located within the Dean of Students Office on the first floor of the Hedgcock Bldg.  You can also purchase tickets at the door for $12.

More recently the current NMU international students have indicated they would like to know what an American Thanksgiving is all about.  Lila is working on a program that invites the local community to host two or three international students to a traditional Thanksgiving Dinner.

Approximately 100 undergraduate or graduate students from 32 countries attend NMU. There are several routes that bring international students to NMU. It might be on a one or two semester scholarship, a bi-lateral exchange where one student from NMU goes to a university in another country and in turn one of their students attends NMU or for a four year undergraduate or two- year graduate program. Some study a specialized area in the health field so they can return home and contribute/improve health in their home country.

If you would like to know more or participate in any of the programs offered through the International Education Services Program contact Lila Isleib at

By Sally Olsen, liaison



February - Striking Copper in the Keweenaw - Class

 Capt. Kurt Fosburg covered the geological formations of the Keweenaw copper range. He discussed those who came because of it, and how technology has influenced advancement in search of copper. 11 billion lbs. of copper were mined from the Keweenaw. Kurt even owns his own copper mine! Great presentation. Read the Mining Journal article


January - Evolution of the U.P. 200 Sled Dog Race

Pat Torreano, Founder and Historian for the UP 200 gave a very enlightening presentation about the history and the behind the scenes activity involved in setting up the dogsled races. There are over 800 volunteers,18 veterinarians and vet techs that make sure things run smoothly and the dogs are well taken care of. They are always looking for volunteers. Make sure you get out this year and support one of Marquette's finest events.

Nice Mining Journal summary article. 



October - Dancing for Parkinson's Disease - Class 

NCLL recently had the opportunity to learn more about a local program for people who have Parkinson’s. This program helps with flexibility, strength, balance and more as we learned by watching, listening and participating along with people with Parkinson’s. We were very impressed and felt this program was engaging, educational and everyone should attend if and when given the option.  We thank Marge, Bill as well as those in the class for allowing us to share time with them.

Thought I would share some of what we learned about Parkinson’s and this program with you.

PD is a disorder of parts of the brain that control movement.  Between 50-60,000 people are diagnosed with Parkinson’s each year (280 in Marquette County), and there are millions undiagnosed. The average age of diagnosis is 60 but does appear in people in their 20s.  It is more prevalent in men than in women but is not known why.

“People living with PD commonly have uncontrollable tremors, suffer from kinetic problems, such as sudden freezing, or not being able to maintain their movement; slower movements, postural imbalance, lack of control over the facial muscles (i.e. not able to smile) and are subject to falls more than the average person. Non-motor symptoms, such as depression, loss of sense of smell, gastric problems, and cognitive changes can also be caused by PD.  While dopamine normally decreases as people age, PD disables the nerve cells that produce dopamine, so it is lost at a much faster rate than normal aging.” (Sklar & Almen, Marquette Monthly, Feb 2017  )

Dancing and PD

“Motion is lotion” is a common adage heard from physical therapists and other practitioners who deal with movement difficulties. This certainly holds true for those living with PD.

The Mark Morris Dance Group in Brooklyn created the Dance for PD program in 2001 and it has spread around the world. The program is based upon engaging both the mind and the body. Research is showing that Dance for PD, when taught by qualified instructors, is associated with positive outcomes on motor functions and mental outlook. In order to include people in various stages of PD, all the movements used in a PD dance class can be done while seated or while standing.

Michigan has seven locations that offer dance classes for those with PD. The newest offering is right here in Marquette. Our own local owner of and instructor at Dance Zone, Marge Sklar, recently completed the on-line Dancing for PD course and also attended two workshops at the Mark Morris Dance Studio in Brooklyn. The instructors were taught how to apply what they learned towards a Dancing for PD class. 

The Dance Zone in Marquette

This Dance for PD class is sponsored jointly by Lake Superior Hospice and Dance Zone at no charge. The class is based on the techniques and principles learned from the Mark Morris Dance for PD program. Class is open to those with PD, caregivers, family and friends. Class is free, but donations to support the program are gratefully accepted. Dance experience is not necessary. Class meets Tuesdays and Fridays, from 2-3:15 PM and Saturdays 1-2:15. Free. The Dance Zone is located at 1113 Lincoln Avenue on the corner of College. Contact Marge Sklar at 236-1457.


Other support options for PD near Marquette

General PD Information 

Information herein based on interview with Marge Sklar and Ruth Almen and the corresponding article that appeared in Marquette Monthly, February 2017 

By Sally Olsen, NCLL Liaison


October 2017 Spice Merchants “Foodie” Demo/Class 

...a food tasting and preparation explanation class on using spices. Read the associated Mining Journal article, " ' tis the season' " and check out our Facebook posting for photos and more details. 

Fall 2017 


Who knew such a gem existed in our area? Who knew over 4000 gliders were built in Kingsford for WWII? Who knew the largest steam-driven pumping engine ever built was in Iron Mt.? Who knew there was a U.P Veteran’s Memorial representing all 15 counties of the U.P. as well as recognizing the eras of Vietnam, Lebanon-Granada, the Gulf Wars, Korea and WW I & WW II.  On Sept 11th, we rode a bus to Iron Mountain to visit three museums and the UP Veterans Memorial. Check out our photos and commentary on our Facebook page


The Menominee Range Historical Foundation consists of three  museums and gift shop:  The Menominee Range Historical Museum, Cornish Pumping Engine & Mining Museum, and the World War II Glider & Military Museum

The Menominee Range Historical Museum features over 100 exhibits depicting local history from Native American inhabitants through the early 20th century with chronological displays and re-created period rooms.  

During World War II, the Kingsford Ford Motor plant built more Model CG-4A gliders for the United  States Army than any other company in the nation at much less cost than  other manufacturers.  The glider featured in the WWII Glider/Military Museum is one of only seven fully restored CG-4A World War II gliders in the world. 

The Cornish Pumping Engine & Mining Museum displays the largest steam-driven pumping engine ever built in the U.S. and is a Michigan Historic Site (1958), a National Historic Site (1981), a Michigan Historic  Civil Engineering Landmark (1984) and a National Historic Mechanical Engineering  Landmark (1987). The museum also displays extensive underground mining equipment. 


Spring 2017


While giving a tour of facilities to NCLL on March 22nd, Mike Kaurala, the OTS director, and two coaches Vance Newgard (weight-lifting) and Rob Hermann (wrestling) described the OTS background, current affairs and future options. The Mining Journal published an article, "Seniors Go Olympian" written by Christi Bleck.



NCLL recently visited The historical Gossard Manufacturing (1920-1976) Building in Ishpeming, MI.  It was built in 1880 and as of 2016 is on the National Registry of Historic Places.  Paul and Sandy Arsenault now own the building and are doing their part to preserve the history of the building and the Gossard Girls. What a historical gem!  Over its 56 year history it employed nearly 1000 people (mostly women).  Its main product was undergarments for women (especially the lace front corset, brassiere and panty girdle). Many of us will have to admit to remembering/wearing.  I guess you could say these garments were the forerunner of Spanx!! 

The upstairs cutting/sewing room is intact with an original 1911 sewing machine.  Likewise they are still finding needles imbedded in the floor. There are some examples of the garments that were produced there, newspaper ads, articles and a tribute wall. Sandy looks for and appreciates any information from the public on these workers, the garments and stories associated with the Gossard Girls!

The women shared a camaraderie which brought into being things like picnics and bowling leagues. They also shared a free lunch together in the Gossard cafeteria.  There was an house paper called “The Gossardian” which published marriages, births, household tips like using oxalic acid to get rid of rust stains, and social commentary about the workers, local activities, etc.

The work force was mainly a labor market of single women, miner’s wives and daughters. There were also some men (about 20%) who were mostly cutters. In turn it gave women the opportunity to have a job, learn a trade, and an income.  They could buy a washing machine and contribute to the family, as well as the community economy, which was especially true during the war and the depression. This was the beginning of computer age, and this type of work being sent overseas for production.

There is also another part to the Gossard story which revolves around the “strike of 1949.” One of Marquette’s very own icon’s, Geraldine DeFant, who many of you will remember, came to Marquette, organized and led the famous Gossard Worker’s Strike to join the garment-workers union.  This was a very interesting strike and I suggest you research the information out there and learn more about it

There is additional information on Gossard Manufacturing, the building, workers, strike and more; all yours ready for only the search on your part.  Thanks to Sandy Arsenault for the presentation!

Sally Olsen For NCLL


Spring 2017:


Local resident Kurt Fosburg is one of only three certified Lampists in the nation. In January 2017 he gave a great educational, informative and fascinating presentation on the History of the Fresnel Lens. Those who attended had the highest accolades for Fosburg’s presentation – in the words of one participant “one of the best programs I have ever seen.”

The first thing we learned was the definition of a “Lampist:" an old-world term for a technician specializing in the set-up, repair, and preservation of classical Fresnel lighthouse lenses. Kurt, trained as an old world apprentice by the nation's leading lampist, followed this with a short lecture on the lens named after its French creator, Augustin Fresnel. Using a combination of the index of refraction of glass and the physics of light transmission, Fresnel created a mathematical formula to bend and focus the visible energy from a source of illumination into a concentrated beam of light to aid the Mariner at sea. The result was a beautiful combination of bronze framework and precision ground glass.

With increased U.S. shipping in the mid-1800s, the nation began purchasing the French Fresnel lenses for use in their lighthouses. Over time the classical Fresnel lens became obsolete, but instead of destroying these functional works of art the government began the process of removing the lenses from lighthouses and transferring them to local historical societies and maritime museums for public display. 

Traveling the country, Kurt delicately removing these priceless artifacts and restores them to their original luster for display.  He also manufactures missing components and associated clockworks mechanism, historically accurate reproduction of platforms, lamps, and other display items directly related to the Fresnel lens.  Mr. Fosburg has gone on to create his own unique company to further his interests and career.  As the youngest of the now retiring group of American lampists and the only one manufacturing replacement components, his talents, skills and passion for the subject shines bright. Some examples of Kurt's work are Stannard Rock near Marquette, Pointe aux Barques on Lake Huron, and Gibbs Hill on Bermuda.



If you would like to know more about NCLL, the programs or becoming a member contact the office or better yet, attend a program and experience for yourself. You can download booklet or registration forms or contact the NCLL office to request a paper copy.


Sally Olsen, NCLL Liaison; Photo and text provided by Kurt Fosburg


Winter 2017:



On December 18th, a Mining Journal article covered an NCLL Learning to Tango class, including a photo of the Soderbergs who "try out a few steps." Dancing to good health

Fall 2016:

NCLL, with Fred Huffman from North Country Tours as guide, loaded up a Checker bus and headed for Pictured Rocks Lakeshore and Grand Marais to take in the fall colors and some history as well as socialize with fellow NCLLers.  It was a full day of seeing mother nature’s creations, learning about the history of Grand Marais and exploring this picturesque village.

The Chippewa Indians lived at Grand Marais for many years before the Europeans arrived. In 1829, Grand Marais was in its peak population of 2000-3000 due to lumber camps, mills and the commercial fishing industry.  It had a hospital, lawyers, bankers, an opera house, livery stables, a cigar maker and more.  A daily train ran from Seney and connected with other lines leading all across the nation.  In 1911 the lumber companies and railroads closed and residents packed their bags and caught the train out. By 1915 there were only about 200 people left.  In the mid-1920s highways opened and the motoring tourists discovered the village and tourism is now the primary industry.

Historical Society President Pat Munger welcomed and acquainted us with the village and was our tour guide for the Lighthouse Keeper’s Museum and the Pickle Barrel House Museum. The Pickel Barrel Museum was built for Wm. Donahey, creator of the Chicago Tribune cartoon story The Teenie Weenies. Donahey spent 10 summers in the cottage with his wife, Mary, herself a noted author of children’s books.  The Teenie Weenies debuted in The Tribune in 1914 and continued until his death in 1970.  The cartoon story featured miniature people who lived in a world of life-sized objects.  This led to a contract with Reid, Murdoch and Company which packaged food products such as Monarch-brand pickles as well as other food products.  Teenie Weenie books were translated into several languages and sold worldwide.

Sable Falls, Miner’s Castle, Munising Falls are always a thrill to see and remind us of  how fortunate we are to live in this great place call the Upper Peninsula.

By Sally Olsen, NCLL Liaison; Photos contributed by Eric Rehorst and Lawrence Ellerbruch.


Summer 2016:

NCLL participants recently took a road/field trip to thriving area of Bark River. While it was a bit of a rocky start it turned out to be a great day. Our first stop was the Ten Mile Forge and Gift Shop which is nestled in a beautiful setting. George is a world renown blackswinery photomith whose specialty is making knives out of Damascus steel, hand carved scrimshaw handles and sheaths.  The demonstration was impressive and we quickly learned he is a true artist, a wealth of knowledge as well as a good story teller.  We were “shaking our heads” in awe trying to process it all.   Maureen’s unique Irish/Celtic Gift shop is small but full of not only George’s handiwork but local jewelry, artwork, pottery, etc. Learn more at

 We then headed for the Home Base Restaurant and Bar for a tasty lunch including Theresa’s home-made rhubarb/strawberry pie and rhubarb torte and I managed to get the recipe for it. Stop in when in that area. On to the Northern Sun Winery owned and operated by Dave and Sue Anthony, where the 4000 vines that make up over 5.2 acres of the farm are used to make their special blends such as the “Rhubarb,” the “Marquette” and the “Brianna.”  They have found just the right grape varieties that grow in the local soil and climate and have already won international wine awards for their LaCrescent wine. We toured the vineyard, saw where and how the grapes were processed, and of course had an opportunity to taste and purchase wine.  Susie’s enthusiasm is infectious and the staff is truly a part of the winery. They also host a summer concert series which would be great to attend.  Check them out at

By Sally Olsen, NCLL Liaison


A few photos from the past

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