Warm reception greets Walker in hometown
DELAVAN Gov. Scott Walker spent the early part of Tuesday morning posing for photos and reminiscing with friends at a breakfast for the Boys & Girls Club of Walworth County at Lake Lawn Resort.
By late morning, adoration for the hometown boy peaked at Bradley's Department Store downtown, where he stopped to celebrate the store's 160th anniversary.
When he wasn't shaking hands or hugging someone, the governor—a 1986 graduate of Delavan-Darien High School—was posing for photos, telling stories or looking at pictures from days gone by.
"I have great remembrances of growing up in the small town of Delavan," Walker said later. "Seeing all these people I grew up with—classmates or parents of classmates, my chemistry teacher, my assistant principal—is a great way to be grounded."
As Walker made his way through the crowd at Bradley's, his wife, Tonette, shopped the rest of the store.
"He usually gets a warm reception wherever he goes, but this is really something," she said as she returned a pair of mittens to a rack. "He has a great love for Delavan, and Scott's parents still keep in very close touch with Delavan.
"Anything that keeps you grounded is a good thing, and this does that."
Ann Serpe made a point of talking to the governor and having her photo taken with him. She was Walker's chemistry teacher, but she said the governor remembered her more as an adviser to the high school's student council.
"Let's just say that he wasn't a chemistry heavyweight," said Serpe, who is now retired. "But he was a quality, hard-working student.
"This is his home."
Asked if she was a Walker fan, Serpe answered in the affirmative. Asked if that's a rare perspective for a teacher, she said: "Now that's a loaded question!"
As the crowd of well more than 100 people waited for a word or photo with the governor, Lois Stritt's cash register sat silent.
For the time being, that was OK with Stritt, who bought Bradley's in 2010.
As the event wound down and Walker did a media interview a few feet away, Stritt tried to help a woman who seemed to have a sincere interest in buying something.
"I'm absolutely thrilled," said Stritt, who admitted to being more than a little nervous before the governor's arrival.
"I don't think this could have been any better. It's a great way to celebrate 160 years of Bradley's, as well as Scott Walker."