Photo by Treyton Ackerman

Dining here at Stout is an opportunity that really is unique to all the staff and students they serve. With nine different options for on campus dining, our staff strives to give you the best return for your dining dollars. One of these staff members stands out, and has always ventured to make our students smile. This is no other than Lois. You will almost always find Lois in the Blue Devil Market on the first floor of the Memorial Student Center, located on South campus, where she is working hard to bring joy to all students who cross paths with her.

Lois grew up on a farm in a small town with a population of around 400 people, where she lived with her large family that consisted of her father, mother, four brothers, and three sisters. Her father was a farmer but ended up being an electrician after many years of farm work. They lived in a very tight knit community, and they loved it there. She states that she “wouldn’t change it at all” because she loved the feeling that brought everyone together.

She has always been close to her siblings. Growing up they had their own baseball team and would play together, and even today she keeps in close contact with her sisters, and they frequently visit each other. One of her brothers is exactly a year and a day older than she is, and he has always seen Lois as his favorite birthday present, furthermore, signifying how close their family is and how important family is to them.

Lois lived in Spring Valley with her husband and two children before moving to Menomonie. Her husband was a farmer too, and her children were only a year and a half and three months old when they lived there. Her husband unfortunately passed away in 1979 from a farming accident, and Lois thought it best to move somewhere where it would be easier to raise her children alone. She found Menomonie to be the perfect size city, and they moved here in 1980.

After moving to Menomonie, Lois worked a few different jobs around town, the most notable being a customer service representative at the Walmart Distribution Center for 21 years. Lois did retire in 2017, but she found that she didn’t enjoy sitting at home all day and sought to find a new place to work. She had been working at the same job for so many years that she wanted to branch out and find something different. She had soon found an ad in the newspaper for UW-Stout, and she started here in 2018. She had applied to be whatever was available for work, as she just wanted a job at the time, but Stout saw it best fit for her to be one of the smiling faces of dining. She did end up leaving her job here at Stout in 2020 due to the fears of COVID-19 and she thought it best for her and her family if she just stayed home for a while. She said that being home and away from all the students affected her mood in a way that nothing else could, and so she returned in December of 2021, and she plans to work here for as long as possible.

When asked how working at the university has impacted her life, her response was, “You can’t imagine how this has impacted me.” She loves being around all the students on campus and describes it as “making new friends every day.” She states that being around the students has enriched her life and this enrichment has expanded to all aspects of her personal life including her own family. During the times when she could not work due to COVID-19, she claims it, “just about drove her nuts” being away from all her friends for so long. She believes that working with the students here keeps her active and makes her feel more alive.

At the end of every transaction you have with Lois, she will tell you to, “have an awesome day.” When asked where this originated from, she said that it just came to her one day, and that she wanted to go a step further than having a good, or even a great day. She feels as though telling people to have an awesome day is the best advice she can give with the smallest number of words. Lois wants every person in her life to know that they are special and that they are loved, because as she put it, “you just never know.” She shared a touching story with me about the day her late husband passed, where she is unsure whether she told him she loved him that day. She takes a moment out of every single day to tell her family that she loves them, and to brighten the student’s day that she comes across. She recommends that we all do the same thing because, “You will never be able to know what kind of day that someone is having, and it is always better to be a day brightener.”

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