Friend of the University Award
GERI DODGE FOTSCH
Elm Grove, Wis.
The Fotsch family motto: “To whom much is given, much is expected.” And so Geri and her late husband, Bill, have fulfilled those words by donating generously to Engineering Hall and endowing an engineering scholarship in honor of Bill’s father. But perhaps their greatest gift to the university? Sending all eight of their children to Marquette.
“I have eight very successful children,” Geri says. “They and I say, ‘Thank you, Marquette.’ ”
Geri knows the value of a college education — she attended Lake Forest College before starting work as a legal secretary. “I was fortunate,” she says. “Five percent of my graduating class from high school went to college. And my parents could only afford to send me for one year so I worked (to pay for the second) … and I was proud of the fact that I had two years.”
She then started dating her first high school dance date, Bill Fotsch, who was studying engineering at the University of Notre Dame. After getting married in 1954, they had eight children in 7.5 years. Meanwhile, Bill was busy as chairman and president of Bausch Machine Tool Co. in West Allis, Wis.
“Money wasn’t a problem because there really wasn’t any. Everything we had went back into my husband’s business,” Geri says. “So the kids had to go to school locally and, of course, Marquette was a great choice. … The fact that it was Catholic and Jesuit was extremely important. The fact that it had an excellent engineering school was very important.”
So important, in fact, that the couple insisted that all their children take engineering courses during their first two years of college (and four of their sons graduated from the College of Engineering, while the others went on to accounting, medicine and dentistry). “Why did we do that? Because they were not wuss science/math courses. They were the tough science/math courses,” Geri says. “And we thought that was a good choice.”
The family has stayed connected to Marquette ever since. Bill frequently visited campus to share his thoughts on what would become Engineering Hall. Meanwhile, Geri has always loved hearing from recipients of the William G. “Pop” Fotsch Engineering Scholarship.
“I am all over scholarships,” she says. “To be able to touch a person’s life in a positive way — how neat is that?”
As president of the Fotsch Foundation, Geri supports Catholic and educational causes throughout the community. She is also a longtime board member of the Order of St. Camillus Foundation.
But what she’s most proud of is closer to home.“I have a marvelous career being a mom and a Nana,” says Geri, who has 30 grandchildren and a great-grandchild on the way. “My main profession is I’m the obnoxiously proud matriarch of this beautiful family.”