A queen’s surprise

Judith Hutchison and her three daughters pose for a picture at UWL's Student Union.

’60 Alumna recalls her experience as a student during surprise visit

1959 was a busy year at the Wisconsin State College-La Crosse. 

The first women’s residence hall opened. U.S. presidential candidate John F. Kennedy spoke inside a packed Main Hall auditorium. And Judith Hutchison was crowned the school’s Homecoming Queen.

Today, Wisconsin State College-La Crosse is now known as UW-La Crosse and Queen Hutchison (now Fischer) spends most of her days sitting on her New London home’s porch whistling and relaxing. Little did she know, her daughter had a surprise weekend trip planned for the family. 

“They knew we were going away for the weekend but not where we were going,” says Pam, Fischer’s daughter. 

Pam, along with her mother and two sisters, arrived in La Crosse on a Thursday afternoon with no itinerary for the weekend announced. The following morning, a van piloted by Pam pulled into the parking lot of the Cleary Alumni & Friends Center. Fischer exited the back seat happily surprised to be standing on the pavement she first set foot on as a student back in 1956. 

“I was a hall resident for three years. I only lived off campus for one year,” Fischer recalls. “I was in the physical education program. I got really close to almost all those kids in that curriculum. We danced together, we played ball together,” she continued with a smile. 

During the visit, Fischer and her three daughters toured campus, met with Chancellor Joe Gow and even reenacted her celebration as homecoming queen with a spot lit stage in Graff Main Hall’s Hesprich Auditorium. The day ended back at the Cleary Alumni & Friends Center where Fischer looked through yearbooks from her time as a student. Fischer says it was a time that helped her become the person she is today. 

“It helped a lot, gave me confidence,” explains Fischer. “It gave me a feeling of worth for my family, for myself. I loved being here in La Crosse.” 

While visits to campus are few and far between, Fischer says she and a few other 1960 alums have held get-togethers twice every year since their graduation. 

Alumni that are interested in staying in-touch with UWL and their fellow alums can find events and update their contact information by visiting www.uwlax.edu/alumni.