Pat and Sue Dugan
President of SLA
Sue and I moved to Squash Lake with our 13 year-old daughter, Jessie, in 2000. Our oldest daughter, Chris, had already moved out and was finishing college in California. We had lived in Neenah, Wisconsin for many years, where Sue practiced medicine and I worked in education and mental health. Sue had become disillusioned with the competitiveness of medicine in the Fox River Valley, and we both jumped at the chance to move here when Sue was offered a position with the radiology department at St. Mary’s Hospital. I soon found a satisfying and rewarding job working as a substance abuse counselor at the hospital as well. Jessie, on the other hand, was convinced that we were “ruining her life” by uprooting her from the big city malls and moving her to the middle of nowhere. I tried to comfort her by saying that there was a Super Wal Mart in Rhinelander, but that didn’t seem to help.
We purchased a house that was still under construction at the end of Squash Lake Road. It was a magical location nestled at the end of two bays and including a narrow peninsula. We essentially gutted the interior of the house and spent the next two years living amongst sawdust. But for Sue it was a labor of love, and an opportunity to express her many creative talents. (She had actually been offered an art scholarship after high school, but chose medical school instead.)
For me, moving to the Northwoods was like dying and going to heaven. I had always been a lover of Nature and outdoor sports, and had been an Eagle Scout as a kid. (Yes, even a camp counselor.) Moving here meant an opportunity to immerse myself in birding, biking, swimming, kayaking, sailing, and more.
An added bonus for Sue and me has been the many wonderful friends we have met. We have found bright, talented, and genuine people here, and I love the experience of running into people I know every time I go to the grocery store
Jessie is now 22 and a senior at Arizona State University. In retrospect, she says that moving to Rhinelander was actually a good thing, because she was able to excel and get involved in many more activities than she could have at a larger school. However, she says that she does not miss the long winters and has no plans of moving back here anytime soon.