When renovating his home in south Menomonie in March 2020, Kyle Birkholz found some unusual things buried within the old farmhouse. While ripping up floorboards and tearing down drywall, he found beer cans, a vintage Pepsi can and a Stout State University student ID from 1969.
“I thought the cans were the perfect thing to find next to an old Stout ID,” Birkholz joked.
Despite having been lost for 52 years, the student ID was in perfect condition. Birkholz gave it to his mom, Deb Birkholz-Friis, a retired operations program associate with the UW-Stout Police, who gave the ID to Chief Jason Spetz
Spetz held onto the ID for a year, waiting out the pandemic, until giving it to his best investigator, Sgt. Lisa Pederson. She found the owner in about 20 minutes and left a message for him. But she knew it sounded like a scam when she explained how his ID had been found.
“I was glad he called back,” she said.
On May 20, Bradley Quarderer and his wife, Linda, drove from their home in Maplewood, Minn., to visit Pederson and Spetz and to retrieve his lost ID.
“We enjoyed the story,” Linda said. “It’s interesting because Bradley doesn’t remember the farmhouse or losing his ID.”
Spetz pointed out that only one of the semester boxes on the ID had been checked and noted Quarderer must have lost it in his first semester.
“As a responsible freshman, the first thing he did was to lose his ID,” Spetz jested, adding Quarderer should take his ID to the Merle M. Price Commons dining facility and see if there are any meals left on his plan.
“I don’t think I want a 52-year-old sandwich,” Bradley joked back.
Bradley had looked through his box of keepsakes from college and couldn’t find a newer ID. However, he did show Pederson and Spetz his graduation card from 1973.
The two cards bear different institutional names: In 1971, Stout State University became the University of Wisconsin-Stout when it merged with other Wisconsin State universities and campuses to form the University of Wisconsin System.
Birkholz credits his mom for helping return Bradley’s ID. “She is the one that really got this ball rolling and made it happen. Otherwise, the ID would be in a drawer somewhere at my house and would be a story only a few would ever know,” he said.
Looking out for other ‘Stouties’
Bradley grew up around Menomonie. His father was a cheesemaker at Teegarden Cooperative Cheese Company, and his brother had graduated from Stout State University.
“It was natural to follow in my brother’s footsteps,” said Bradley, who has a degree in industrial technology. He worked in field service for IBM until retiring in 2012.
Like Birkholz’s renovated farmhouse, UW-Stout has undergone many changes, both during Bradley’s time as a student and since his graduation. Besides a name change, some of the largest additions to campus have included Jarvis Hall Technology Wing and the Memorial Student Center.
“The center mall (the site of the student center now) was temporary modular housing for classrooms. It’s interesting to look back at history,” Bradley said.
Birkholz graduated in 2007 in manufacturing engineering. He worked on the production floor for 10 years and is an account manager for Catalytic Combustion Corporation in Bloomer.
“I use my degree every day talking to other engineers, designing new products, troubleshooting issues, making and testing working prototypes. I could not do this job as well without my engineering background,” Birkholz said.
“I loved Stout,” he added. “It doesn't seem to matter where I go in this world, I always seem to run into another UW-Stout grad. For a smaller school Stouties, travel well and always have time for and look out for other Stouties.”