Some Arbco people

Georgette Bathum

Born and raised in Chicago which offered many opportunities for growth and freedom! At age 10, caring for a younger brother, we safely traversed the city, using the streetcars! and busses enjoying with relish all the city freely offered, Lake Michigan beaches, excellent parks, many museums at little or no cost.

Living in the “stockyard” district, we were greeted daily with the odor, a point of pride instilled in the neighborhood. Nearby was the Jane Adams house, a refuge and a growing influence. Raised a Catholic, but called a “public” because I went to public schools so I became inured early to much derisive name calling.

WW2 upon us and too young to enlist, I joined the local Drum and Bugle Corp, learning to Bugle, Drum and March. Glory as we dedicated the street corners to our heroes.

Many employments culminating in an opportunity to enter Nursing school at Mt. Sinai, Chicago at a minimal cost of three years of complete dedication and absorption. Became an R.N. in 1951. Married Harold, a Marine Corps sergeant during the Korean War, when he came back from serving “overseas” (It turned out to be a stint in the Mediterranean!)

We settled down in Villa Park, Il, (a suburb of Chicago), raised four delightful and challenging children along with working part time as a R.N. Having a career and being a mother was not respected in that era. I helped initiate and organize the first CCU unit in the area. I introduced Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’s theories on dying to the unit and the hospital and attained my B.S. in Health Sciences from St. Francis, Joliet, Il. With three teen-agers at the time and the intensity of the hospital work, I felt burned-out. I went to work for a well-known physician in his office functioning as a nurse practitioner, doing small procedures and co-managing patients.

Harold’s retirement made the travel bug an enticement and for 15 years we circled the country from our retirement home on a lake near Galena, Illinois to Canada, Central America, Mexico, visiting Mary Elizabeth a missionary nurse in Guatemala and Peru, helping cousins homestead in British Columbia, traveling through the Pacific Northwest to California to our son’s home. Lived in Florida, where we bought a home to help my mother live out her days, then back across the continent increasing our methods of travel from tent, car, trailer finally into our beloved Motor Home. We gave up RVing when Harold’s illness forbade his driving. We retired, again, to our Apple Canyon Lake Home, which we as a family built, first as a vacation home and then as our retirement haven.

Unable to sustain our country home life due to weather, illnesses and age, we jumped at Mary Elizabeth’s offer to join her and our grandson Rainer in the brand new Arboretum Co-housing. Harold died here 5 years ago, and two years later my oldest son died. I visit when possible my son, Chris and four grandkids in southern California, and garden when I can with my daughter, Peg, in Milton, WI. I have been living in Arbco Cohousing since 2008 enjoying the community, the ease of living and trying to contribute to its constantly evolving success.

Thankful daily for the opportunity it offers and the great members I am humbled by knowing.

Oscar Bloch

After many years of eclectic and erratic work experiences and hedonistic rapture, I have settled down with my lovely and understanding partner in Madison.  Living in a city where knowing too much is a virtue, I naturally gravitated to work in the rarefied atmosphere of energy policy, research and evaluation.  Fortunately, many other seditious fellows with far more talent have also embedded themselves in the Madison energy vortex.

Amazingly, we have actually accomplished a good deal in the last twenty years.  It’s not a stretch to say that our work has led, in part, to the green standard of living that Arbco represents.  Arbco is the next step in my and the Madison community’s evolution.

Being at heart a loner, it makes sense that I have moved into a community where everyone knows each other’s business.  I see Arbco as an unfinished landscape, with ample room to grow, and to make huge mistakes.

Janet Kelly

Janet Kelly has lived in Madison since 1978.  She lived for several years in France as a child, and then moved every six months or so with her Army family.  Some of her happiest memories are living for short periods in her grandmother’s working-class neighborhood in New Haven, Connecticut, where everyone had a porch and everyone knew each other.   These experiences gave her some “un-American” ideas about how people should live together, and a longing for a stable close-knit community.

Janet has been a lawyer since 1982, but is now mostly retired.   Before law school she wandered around in various academic fields, including French, political science, philosophy and experimental psychology.  For fun she enjoys singing, biking, history, and making things out of paper.  And meetings, of course.  Janet is lucky to have two beautiful and accomplished daughters, who are both in graduate school.  They find Arbco highly amusing, but they seem pleased that their aging mother is living in a friendly and supportive community.


Janet, still climbing trees.

John and Linda Merrill

John Merrill and his wife, Linda, are among the earliest  members of ARBCO.  He is a retired UW Extension housing specialist and faculty member of the School of Human Ecology.  He enjoys reading, volunteer work and working in the community garden here at ARBCO.

Linda retired before her husband to develop her own schedule before she had to follow his.  A former nurse, she decided to work with computers, thinking they would be more predictable than people, and ended up as a senior analyst for a health care agency.  She has many other interests such as reading, birding, knitting, and  volunteering at the UW-Arboretum as a receptionist and steward.  And, again, knitting.  She also edits and is a photographer for Arbco’s outstanding weekly newsletter, Arbco Ink.  Both John and Linda dote on their rescued farm cat, Sweetie Pi.

The Merrills

John and Linda Merrill

John & Sweetie Pi

John and Sweetie Pi.


Matthew is a Madison native and one of six kids, growing up on Orton Park and graduating from East High.  He earned degrees in Minnesota and Maine and discovered a career in sustainability while volunteering on organic farms in Portugal, Iceland and Israel.  Matthew’s time with intentional communities in Israel convinced him to make creating community a priority in life.  Since returning to Madison in 2012 he’s found opportunities to enjoy soccer, yoga (Mound Street!), contra dancing, MUFA, and most importantly time with friends and family.  At work Matthew and colleagues recently helped with the launch of an initiative that encourages the adoption of more sustainable agriculture practices.

Brendon Panke

Brendon lives in the triplex with his wife Sarah and son Calum. Brendon is the primary caregiver for his son Calum. He manages Arbco’s community garden, “the farm,” and some of the compost bins around the property.

Outside of ArbCo Brendon is a co-coordinator for Madison Storytellers . Brendon often hosts Madison Storyteller events at ArbCo. Brendon is also a former player and owner of Atlas Improv Co.

Emily Savage

I am Emily Savage.  I am from South Carolina! I moved to Wisconsin in 2002 and attended LaFollette High School for my junior and senior year! I like that at Arbco there is the feeling that there is always some way to help out and someone to help out! I chose Arbco, because I thought it would give me good support close by, and that it was not too large of a community!

Bill Sethares

Bill Sethares is a primate whose armspan (from fingertip to fingertip) is approximately the same as his height.  One of his earliest memories is of making noise; in a moment of foolishness, his parents allowed him to buy a saxophone with the money he got from selling seeds (his first failed foray into commercial activity).  In the ensuing years he has written songs with dead poets, songs in praise of the Fourier Transform, and song lyrics in Klingon and Ubbi-Dubbi.  During the day, he can be found loitering arounds the halls of the Department of Electrical Engineering.  He enjoys hanging out with humans, especially humorous ones, which explains why he likes cooperatives, cohousing, and Ann. Perhaps his greatest regret is that Arbco is not in orbit around Mars.


Bill relates to primates.