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Deborah Reese Kinder, Alumna/Community

Deborah Reese Kinder had the good fortune to be born and raised in Wisconsin Dells and meet her great grandmother Evaline Marshal Bennett in 1948.  Her grandmother Ruth Bennett Dyer and her mother Jean Dyer Reese provided strong role models. Married Jim Kinder, September 12.1970


  • 1966 – Graduated from Wisconsin Dells High School
  • Earned her Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Ph. D. degrees in English Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Career and Professional Accomplishments

  • Teacher at Barneveld, Madison Memorial, Platteville high schools.  Final six years taught at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville.
  • Helped design and teach in the alternative School-within-a-School for at- risk juniors and seniors.
  • Served on Blanchardville, WI. School board.
  • Helped start and led Girl Scout troops in Blanchardville, WI.
  • Taught graduate courses in Wuhan, China.
  • Assisted in the development of Beacon House for homeless shelters which served as an incubator for Families in Transition Support Network, Dells Community Supper, and the Stepping Stone Housing Project.
  • Stewards of the Dells of the Wisconsin River.
  • Wisconsin Dells City Council for six years.
  • Member of the Tree City Committee in Wisconsin Dells.
  • Secretary for the Friends of HH Bennett Studio.
  • President of the Kids Ranch Board-a non-profit serving 6-10 year olds in the Dells, Baraboo, Reedsburg and Sauk Prairie communities.

Honors & Awards

  • Bassett Award for Teaching Excellence.
  • Dells-Delton Community Builder Award.

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Ross M. Curry, Alumnus/Community

“Ross is not a world traveler, but a time traveler.”

Ross M. Curry was born in Kilbourn, Wisconsin on November 13, 1929 to Ross C. and Sarah Burdick Curry-two years before Kilbourn’s name was changed to Wisconsin Dells in 1931. The Curry Family was the fifth of seven generations to live in the Wisconsin Territory.  The Curry Family is also related by marriage to Roseline Peck, the first white woman to live in the Madison/Baraboo areas.  Ross’s direct link to early settlers stems from his grandfather coming here in 1849 as a child.


  • Graduated Wisconsin Dells High School, Class of 1947 
  • Attended Madison College in Madison, Wisconsin

Career and Professional Accomplishments

  • Employed at the Dells Events for 40 years.
  • Held most operating positions including creating hot-type, typesetter, line-a-type operator, printer, folder, distributor, reporter, and salesman.
  • Wrote ten books including three genealogies of early settlers, five histories of the Wisconsin Dells/Sauk County area, the history of the Baraboo Assembly of God Church and a collection of Christmas letters with many pictures and illustrations.

Honors & Awards

  • Pioneer Family Certificate from the Wisconsin State Genealogical Society.
  • Wisconsin Dells Wo-Zha-Wa Parade Marshall in 2013.
  • Recipient of the 2014 William H. Canfield History Award by the Sauk County Historical Society.
  • Recipient of the Dells-Delton “Community Builder Award” in 2016.

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Donald and Anita Nelson, Alumnus/Community

Don is the son of Palmer and Grade (Ogle) Nelson.  Anita is the daughter of Nels and Vannetta Christopherson.  Don and Anita are graduates of Wisconsin Dells High School, the Class of 1948 and 1956. They were married December 26, 1961. 

Contributions to Community

Donald Nelson

  • Don served his community on the town board for twenty years.
  • He served as a Columbia County Board Supervisor for thirty years.
  • Active in the Wisconsin Farmers Union-selected to state board three times advocating fair pricing for family farmers.
  • Wisconsin Farmers Union state delegate in 1983.

Anita Nelson

  • Graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 1960.
  • Music education teacher for 18 years.
  • Active as a 4-H leader and with the Wisconsin Farmers Union Youth Program.
  • Appointed to the Wisconsin State Fair Park Board by Governor Tony Earl.
  • Manager of Thunder Valley Inn of Wisconsin Dells.

Don and Anita have hosted visitors and workers from around the world, giving them an opportunity to learn and see what America and American farming is like.  The Nelson’s were selected as Columbia County Dairy Farm Family of the Year for 1998.

They led movements locally and nationally against BGH (bovine growth hormone) in commercial milk brands.  Organized Concerned Citizens of Newport in the fight against the Nestle Corporation’s Perrier Division attempt to site a spring water bottling plant in New Haven Township.  Led other civic causes over time.  Don and Anita were honored with the Dells-Delton “Community Builder Award.”

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Andrew “Turk” Waterman, Alumnus/Community

Andrew “Turk” Waterman was a lifelong resident of Wisconsin Dells.  He was the first child of Andrew Victor Waterman and Mae Vandereveer Waterman on July 14, 1939.  Turk graduated from Wisconsin Dells High School, Class of 1957.  With all of Turk’s successes, his family was the one he was proudest of.  He felt fortunate to be able to live in the town he loved all his life and watch his children and grandchildren do the same.

Turk passed away June 29, 2017 at the age of 77.

Career Accomplishments

  • Served in the U.S. Navy, guided missile repair, U.S.S. Galveston.
  • Attended college at UW-Eau Claire and UW-Stevens Point.
  • Innovative contributions to the tourist  industry with successful businesses: Turk’s Leper colony, Midwest Amusements, Noah’s Ark Waterpark, Crazy King Ludwigs, Great Wolf Lodge, Moosejaw Pizza and Dells Brewing Company, Knucklehead’s Family Entertainment Center, Buffalo Phil’s Restaurant, Timber Falls Amusement Park, Houlihan Restaurants, and Outlets at the Dells.
  • Founding member of the World Waterpark Association.


  • Poppy Waterman Ice Arena named after his father.
  • World Waterpark Association Hall of Fame.
  • Wisconsin Dells Visitor and Convention Bureau Life-Time Achievement Award.

Turk’s Keys to Success

1) Lead by example.

2) Be surrounded by great people.

3) Listen to the advice of others.

4) Don’t give customers what you think they want, give them what they actually want.  Make Memories Worth Repeating.