In Memoriam: Lorin Toepper

Provost Terry Webb shares a letter about Lorin Toepper with the faculty and staff.:

It is with profound sadness that we share with you that Lorin Toepper, director of workforce and economic development at Madison College’s West Campus, suffered a heart attack and passed away Friday, Jan. 3 at his home.

Lorin came to the college in 2001. He has served as an Associate Dean, a regional campus manager, and most recently a Director of Workforce and Economic Development. His legacy to the college includes his support of our culinary programs and other business programming, his advocacy and professional expertise in tourism and economic development, and his work in promoting entrepreneurship. He was the chairperson of “Startup Weekend Madison,” a multi-partner program that brings together entrepreneurial minds from Southern Wisconsin to encourage collaboration on innovative projects and form new startup companies. He also co-founded the Wisconsin Grilled Cheese Championship and was active in numerous organizations that promote civic enrichment and economic development.

Lorin was an accomplished chef and often assisted with preparing and serving food at campus functions that were catered by Madison College’s Culinary Arts program. He found a way to combine his affinity for economic development, entrepreneurship and cooking by creating the Madison College “Street Food Academy.” Launched last fall, this series of courses helps food entrepreneurs learn the steps to create a food cart in Dane County.

Those who knew Lorin best are acutely familiar with his bone-dry sense of humor. A masterful story teller, he could deliver the punch line to any joke with a poker face. Lorin embraced Madison College, the students we serve, and the colleagues with whom he worked every day. He clearly enjoyed his work and invested himself fully in it.

We are making arrangements with our EAP provider, Heitzinger and Associates, for grief counseling group session at the West Campus. Of course, any Madison College employee may also schedule a visit with a counselor as part of your EAP benefits package by calling (608) 255-4419. We hope you’ll take advantage of this service if you need it.

Funeral arrangements are pending, and we’ll be sure to share details as we receive them. In the meantime, please take a quiet moment today to reflect on your memories of Lorin – then share a kind word and a laugh with someone who’s important to you in his memory. He would appreciate that.

The Wisconsin State Journal will publish Dr. Toepper’s obituary Sunday, Jan. 19. A memorial gathering is planned for Jan. 24 on Madison’s west side. Additional details will be included in the obituary.

Published January 6, 2014. Updated January 13, 2014.