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Original “U-Rah-Rah!”

Virginia Lee Kehl Mackesey ’56 of Dunwoody, Georgia, sent us something very special: a copy of the official photo taken of the first four female members of the UW’s cheerleading squad in the 1950s.

Paula Apfelbach ‘83
April 12, 2013

The first four female members of the UW’s cheerleading squad: Marge (Margaret) Terrill Stracka ’53, LyAnne Fleming Thorman ’54, Sherri (Sharyn) Finkbine Chessen ’54, and Mackesey.

They were (left to right): Marge (Margaret) Terrill Stracka ’53, LyAnne Fleming Thorman ’54, Sherri (Sharyn) Finkbine Chessen ’54, and Mackesey.

“It was LyAnne,” Mackesey writes, “who pleaded our case all the way to the office of the president of the U of W.

“Often others have been given this recognition in various publications, so I wanted to set the record straight.

“I’m sure others took [my] place, as [I] had to drop out [of the squad] after the first year or so. It was impossible to be a full-time dance-major student at the U of W and teach full time in the family business — the Kehl School of Dance in Madison.”

The Kehls, whose name is practically synonymous with dance instruction in Madison, have the oldest continuously family-run studio in the nation — founded when F.W. (Frederick) “Daddy” Kehl began teaching in 1880. In 1922, he passed the school to his son Leo Kehl, who attended the UW and choreographed its Haresfoot Follies for 19 years. Of Leo’s three daughters — Virginia Lee Kehl Mackesey ’56 of Dunwoody, Georgia; Jo Ann Kehl McDermott ’58 of Cincinnati; and Jo Ann’s twin, Jo Jean Kehl Janus ’58 of Middleton, Wisconsin — it was Jo Jean who eventually became the school’s sole director. And now Jenny Janus Hiltbrand ’82 is the fourth-generation director, with her sister Jeanne Janus Keeler ’85, MBA’89 taking part on the staff. The Kehl School of Dance celebrated its 125th anniversary on June 11 with a gala recital at the Wisconsin Union Theater.

How big is your Badger family?

Comment below or send your stories and photos to insider@uwalumni.com, for the chance to be included in an upcoming issue of Badger Insider Magazine or as part of the Badger Families collection online at uwalumni.com.

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