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Meet a Badger: Rich Tinaglia ’77

1. What is your hometown?
My hometown is Park Ridge, IL. This town has a rich history and is now considered a suburb of Chicago. It was once a separate community when it was originally incorporated in 1873.

2. Which years did you attend the UW?
I attended the University of Wisconsin–Madison from 1974–77.

3. What was your major and what degree did you obtain?
I have a double major BA in political science and theatre.

4. Where do you live now?
Currently, I live in Bloomington, IL, with my wife, Terry, and two dogs who we treat as if they are our human grandchildren. They are quite spoiled and think they are in charge of our home.

5. Describe your current job and career path.
My first job after graduation was at the MidAmerica Commodity Exchange. This started my career in finance and insurance. Standing in an open outcry trading pit was truly exhilarating. (Remember the scene in the movie Trading Places?) After 10 years of trading, I decided helping individuals reach their financial goals would be more rewarding for me. I became an independent financial planner and earned my CFP [certified financial planner] designation. That was the first of five insurance designations I earned. I often describe my many insurance designations as my poor man’s master’s in insurance. After working mostly for myself since graduating, I decided to align myself with a major insurance carrier, State Farm Insurance. I stayed there, working as a claims manager and agency consultant, before moving down to the home office, bringing my business and field experience as a consultant in IT.

6. What is your favorite Badger memory?
In 1975, the football team beat then number-one-rated Nebraska. At this time, State Street was not closed to traffic. However, on this day, police closed down the street when jubilant fans started an old-fashioned bonfire near the corner of State and Lake Streets. Another great memory was trudging up Bascom Hill on a cold winter morning. As I navigated up the icy hill, I gazed toward Lake Mendota and saw the Statue of Liberty. The statue appeared to be sinking into Lake Mendota. On my way back after class my curiosity got the best of me. I joined a group of fellow curiosity seekers who were standing on the frozen lake inspecting this work of art. We all stood in total amazement. We knew this was memorable and a wonderful part of the unique experience of our beloved Mad-Town and university experience.

7. How would you describe your education from the UW?
During my time at the UW, I had the opportunity to take classes and speak with many outstanding professors. One special individual was Gilbert Hemsley, a theatrical lightning designer. Gilbert advanced stage lighting, making it an integral part of the stage production. Up until this point, stage lights only lit up the stage. His work made lighting an art form. Gilbert was also famous for taking his lighting students to the New York Met when he designed lights for Rudolph Nureyev’s ballets. It was Gilbert who first engrained in me the importance of art in society and the belief you can measure the health of a society by the health of its art and artists.

8. What is your involvement with the WAA: HOI Chapter?
I have always been a relationship person. The friendships developed with my fellow chapter alums is very cherished to me. I enjoy the fun we have helping new Badgers and cheering on our alma mater.

9. Do you have any hobbies? If so, please describe one.
My love for live theater has been my lifelong hobby. I enjoy performing and directing. Recently, I performed in the musical Elf at the Players Theatre in Bloomington. It was a wonderful experience working with a cast whose ages ranged from 12 to 69. And no, I was not the oldest cast member, but I definitely was the oldest dancer in the production. In addition to having a featured role, I danced and sang in four numbers. My performance included a solo tap number in the grand finale.

10. What is a fun fact that people may not know about you?
I enjoy playing chess, and I had a scene in the movie Skokie with two fabulous actors. Eli Wallach and Brian Dennehy. I got to watch, react, and have a line. But being in a scene was really cool. Unfortunately, the editing and cutting room removed most of it. The same thing happened in Continental Divide, which was John Belushi’s last film before he died. Darn that cutting room again!