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North Central prepared Marilyn Kubly ’54 Workman to travel the world, but it’s the stories from her campus home that still make her smile. 

“Living in Kaufman was the best thing that ever happened to me,” she says. “I had so much fun, and I met Nancy Blotch ’54 Mayer there. We’ve been friends—sisters, really—ever since.” 

Rick Spencer, vice president for institutional advancement, with Marilyn Kubly ’54 Workman at her home in Monroe, WI

Workman majored in elementary education and religion at North Central. “Back then women didn’t have too many choices,” she recalls. “You could be a teacher, nurse, or secretary—or you could get married and stay at home.” 

Staying at home—or anywhere near home, for that matter—wasn’t part of Workman’s plan. After teaching second grade in Michigan and Illinois for a couple of years, she sought out a summer position at a refugee settlement in Germany. “That was the hardest work I ever did,” she says. “We dug ditches, made cement and insulated buildings. But I loved Germany and knew I wanted to go back.” 

When Workman returned to the States in the fall, she applied to the Department of Defense for a teaching position at a military base abroad. Her first assignment took her to the Azores Islands off the coast of Portugal. Next she spent a couple of years in Japan. Finally she got her wish—two postings in Germany, first in Kaiserslautern and then in Berlin. The country was still divided, the Cold War was going strong, and “I had to wear dog tags in case the East Germans or Russians decided to invade,” she recalls. 

After spending six years overseas, Workman returned to the United States. She ultimately came full circle to teach in her childhood home of Monroe, WI, where she still lives today. But it wasn’t long before she hit the road again. After getting married she traveled to China, South America and Australia. 

Through it all, she’s been a loyal friend of the College and has paired her strong emotional ties to North Central with extremely generous financial gifts. In addition to making annual donations to the North Central College Fund, she has made a six-figure gift to the new Science Center, as well as a $500,000 endowment commitment in her estate to fund a scholarship “for regular students like me.” 

Standing near Checkpoint Charlie in West Berlin, Germany

“Times change and the College has changed with them,” she says, noting that she’s been impressed by the College’s growth over the years. “When I was a student, you could walk into the middle of Chicago Avenue, lie down and take a nap without getting hit by a car. It was a much smaller and different place!” 

Some things haven’t changed, she says. “Everyone’s talking about New Hall’s beautiful suites, but did you know that we had one of the first suites on campus?” she asks with a chuckle. “Four of us moved our beds into one room, and all our dressers and desks into another room. We thought it was great … but the powers that be disagreed and we had to move everything back. 

“I have wonderful memories from the College. If I could do it all over again, I would,” she says. “North Central made me the person I am today. This really is the school I love.”