Behind every pension is a dedicated, hardworking citizen who keeps Wisconsin safe and prospering.

Share your story today!

Eleanor Ryan

September 2016

I am a retired teacher and school librarian. I taught for forty years, twenty-three of them in the public schools. I enjoyed working with children and feel strongly that to teach is to touch a life forever.

I’m retired twenty-two years now and because of my pension and my Social Security I am able to live comfortably as a retiree. However, my retirement income is still quite modest. I am now thinking of my future and the next stages of my life.

One day I may need to go into assisted living, continuum-of-care living, or a nursing home. I have been looking at the costs for this type of care. This summer I made the realization that I will not be able to move into a particular retirement community I have been interested in moving to. The costs go up 3% per year and the monthly fee has gone up by about $3,000. My monthly income has not risen at this rate.

I will try to stay in my home as long as I can and I hope I will be able to get by with outside help, Interfaith Senior Programs, and friends. This is only possible because of my WRS pension.

Kenneth Greening

September 2016

I am a retired licensed union plumber. I started my plumbing apprenticeship in June of 1969; in 1974 I got my Journeyman’s License and in 1977 my Master’s Plumbing License; and on November 13th, 2007 I retired because my back became unhinged for a third time. My dad was a plumber, so it was easy to go into a field that I was already involved with.

As a retiree, I am very active. I am on the Voces de la Frontera Board as well as on the Wisconsin Alliance for Retired Americans Board. I am a delegate for the Plumbers to the Southeastern Wisconsin Labor Council.

I also attend UN/USA meetings and Public Enterprise Community meetings. Yes, I still attend Plumber Local 75 monthly meetings.

My pension and my social security provide all the income I need to pay my bills and expenses. My retirement savings helped me buy a car I needed. I live comfortably and I live within my means

Winnifred and Edward Ludwig

September 2016

Winnifred and Edward Ludwig were both public servants throughout their lives. Winnifred taught for twenty years in Shawano, Mellen, Glidden and Chippewa Falls schools.

Edward taught at three universities, was Principal of Gresham Public School and Superintendent at Mellen and Cadott Public Schools all while raising nine children and being extremely active in their communities.

They remained extremely active in their communities after retirement, serving in many ways including organizing blood drives, volunteering with senior tax preparation services, participating with the Lion’s Club, serving as church organist, and organizing the Homemakers Women’s Club through the Wisconsin Extension.

They loved serving children and their community. The pension they earned made all of their dedicated volunteer service possible.

Jim Brownlow

September 2016

I am a retired school librarian and a member of WEAC. I enjoyed helping middle school students find resources, improve skills, and find enjoyment in reading for thirty-four years.

I am now retired and Social Security along with my WRS pension provide me with my entire retirement savings.

My retirement pension is a deferred compensation; it is money I earned over the years. I am finally receiving that pay now.

I’m proud to say that I spend nearly all of my retirement income right here in Wisconsin, supporting our local economy here in Muskego.

My spending is ultimately redistributed to other businesses in my community and it in turn becomes someone else’s income.

Winnifred Aitch

September 2016

After working for thirty years as a teacher and a school administrator, my WRS pension made it possible for me to care for my aging mother and be involved in my grandchildren’s schools as a tutor.

At one time, my family had four generations in the classroom–great grandma, grandma, mother, son! My daugher-in-law, who is a public school teacher, had her son as a student in the third grade. My mother and I tutored once a week in her classroom in Milwaukee.

A secure retirement provides for a healthy community!

Ethel Gates

September 2016

I worked for thirty-nine and a half years with the elderly as a Certified Nursing Assistant in Racine, WI. I loved working with the people I cared for and they became my family in my heart. I was finally able to retire because I worked for so long to build both my pension and my Social Security savings.

My secure retirement means that, as a retiree, I can volunteer a lot more with my church and in my community. I am also able to help care for my mother now that I am retired. She needs care on a daily basis, and I am thankful that I am able to be there for her.

I hope to help educate more people about what pensions are and why it is so important to have one. Young people don’t always understand how important it is to have retirement savings. And people need help saving enough for retirement. That’s why I strongly support State Senator Dave Hansen’s Private Secure Retirement Act.

We need to come together as a state to establish an affordable and effective pension system for the private sector in Wisconsin to ensure everyone has access to a secure retirement in Wisconsin.

Todd Callister

July 2016

My name is Todd Callister, I’m a veteran of the Air Force and I’ve worked for the State of Wisconsin for twelve years. As a psychiatrist with the Department of Corrections and the Mendota Mental Health Institute, I provide mental health care for individuals with serious mental illness.

I get satisfaction and pride from working with a multidisciplinary team of dedicated professionals who help Wisconsinites with mental illness reintegrate into society and become productive members of their communities.

I could choose to work in a private setting for more money, but I feel that by working for the state, I can give back to a community that gave me so many opportunities growing up.

I feel good about that. And it also feels good to know that as I’m working, I’m contributing to a pension system that not only gives me a sense of security about my retirement, but is fully funded and responsible to fellow taxpayers in Wisconsin.

Susan Nicol 

June 2016 

I live in Madison, Wisconsin and I am an RN Patient and Family Educator and a certified Diabetes Educator at the University of Wisconsin Hospital. I’ve had the privilege of working for the hospital for over twenty years.

I became a nurse because I am passionate about caring for people in need. I am dedicated to translating relevant health information in a relatable way for my patients and families to ensure their health and well-being.

Every day at my job, I see women who are caretakers for their children and parents.  Although this is something we should admire as a society, instead we penalize these women when it comes to their retirement security.  Often, women are excluded from access to a retirement plan because of their departures from full-time work to raise children or take care of elderly parents.

I’m very thankful that through my work, I’m offered a pension as part of my salary and benefits package.  Each paycheck 5.8% of my salary goes into my retirement plan.  I know that when I retire in sixteen years that money will have been well managed by the model Wisconsin Retirement System.

Unlike many American women, I will be secure in my retirement.  Although my pension will be a modest $19,000 per year after 38 years of work at the UW Hospital, that will allow me to support myself without relying on friends or family.  I will also be able to volunteer in my community on the end of life issues I care so deeply about.