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About Carthage

Kissing Rock: A Century of Memories

Carthage alumni share their memories of Kissing Rock, the icon whose association with the College began in 1913.

An easy choice of venue

James and I met at Carthage back in 1998 and were good friends, but we didn’t start dating until January 2007 when we reconnected. He asked me to marry him in the summer of 2007 when we were visiting campus. So where to have the wedding and reception? At Carthage, of course! Pastor Dean Peterson came back to perform the service at Siebert Chapel, and the wedding party included Jon Habighorst ’01, Cliff Zdenek ’01), Jason Demas ’01, Chrissy Dzioba ’03, John Rak ’02 and Maribeth (Hulina) Foley ’02. Greg and Kathy Berg provided beautiful music during the service, and Lisa (Schreiner ’01) Truax took these beautiful pictures. The morning of the wedding, the guys painted the rock for our big day on August 21, 2010!

Jodi (Habighorst ’02) Bernicky
James Bernicky ’01


The mysterious Kissing Fridge

I was a freshman in 1963 on the new Kenosha campus.

I’m not sure which year Kissing Rock arrived from the old Carthage campus to adorn the bluff where it now rests. 

After its arrival, some jokesters went and retrieved and ancient/old refrigerator that had been dumped below on the beach and brought it up to the bluff that had been chosen for Kissing Rock. They traded out Kissing Rock with its “love signs” on it with this discarded old fridge. There Kissing Fridge sat!!!! It was decorated with a lot of “kisses”.  Don’t know what the jokesters did with Kissing Rock for this prank.  

After this event, it was sunk into cement to make it a permanent fixture in the SAME location!!!

I think Kissing Rock had multiple “replacements” with a variety of objects during its first year of arrival. Blending of the 2 campuses did not come without some stress. These “prank events lightened the load.  Most of us smiled!

Years later it would be nice to hear from those involved on HOW they pulled them off!!

Marilyn (Kozel ’67) Rossomando

A painted tribute

While reading the Carthaginian, I enjoyed seeing the Rockin’ Through The Decades pictorial marking the 100th anniversary of the Kissing Rock.

I was stunned to see the picture of Kissing Rock, painted for my godson’s late wife, Andrea (Treichel ’95) Wirch. It was 10 years ago, July 6, 2003, that Andrea succumbed to breast cancer at age 30. 

Andrea married my godson, Jeffery Wirch at Siebert Chapel on November 18, 2000.  It was a joyous occasion, with my children being part of the wedding party. Andrea was a great addition to our family.

Six months after Jeff and Andrea welcomed their first child, Benjamin Dean Wirch, into the world, Andrea was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer.  She died only days later. 

Andrea was a very popular teacher at Mahone Middle School in Kenosha. The stunned, large crowd attending her funeral at Siebert Chapel saw the tribute to Andrea painted on Kissing Rock by her Kappa Phi Eta sorority sisters.

Deacon Rick J. Wirch ’76

Any pin will do

I pinned Cathy Brauer on Kissing Rock in 1966. I wasn’t in a fraternity so I bought a glorified safety pin. Cathy, now my wife for 46 years, still has that pin.

Frank “Bud” Roth ’66

A few extra details

I would like to add some potential background information regarding Kissing Rock.  I had the opportunity to be among the first group to attend the new campus.  My sophomore year was spent at the old campus.  Three of us, Dennis Day, John Dorn and I, opened the new campus and closed the old campus. Kissing Rock was moved to the new campus by Beta Phi Epsilon. The late Gerry Remillard, mentioned in the summer Carthaginian, arranged the moving of the rock via his father’s Wisconsin Trailer company. 

To the best of my knowledge, there was no painting of Kissing Rock prior to 1969, the year my late wife, Martina Johnson, graduated.  Beta Phi Epsilon used to hold its pinning ceremonies there.  I do recall attending Homecoming some time later and saw the rock had been painted.  Having seen the rock at the old campus and knowing the effort that was made to move it to the new campus, I was very upset to see it painted.  I hope the students can find something else to paint and Kissing Rock can remain unpainted.

Al Leemhuis ’66

Kibbe collision

You may have heard this story before, but it has to do with Dr. Alice Kibbe.  I worked for Dr. Kibbe in the biology building at the old campus in 1958-59.  I would move her beloved plants from outside to the top floor attic winter storage area.  Then, in the spring move them outside again.  She was famous for driving her old car around the circle when she arrived each day.  Kissing Rock was at the entrance just before a curve in the drive. One day she missed the curve and drove on top of the rock.  Students helped move her car off the rock.

Donald H. “Don” Piehl ’61

A rockin’ wedding day

My husband (Erik Zavacke ’01)and I started dating while at Carthage. He asked me to marry him beside Kissing Rock and we were married at Carthage’s Siebert Chapel on October 15, 2005. My brother and sister had painted Kissing Rock the night before and the morning of our wedding my brother had to repaint it because it was painted over during the night. We wanted Kissing Rock to be a part of our wedding day.

Heidi (Kunkel ’03 B.A.,’07 M.Ed.) Zavacke

Sisters on watch

During my time at Carthage, I was a member of Sigma Alpha Chi, and of course, spent many hours painting the rock with my sorority colors. When Matt Story (’04) and I got married at Siebert Chapel in 2005, we made it a point to paint the rock after our rehearsal on Friday night. We were hoping it would still be painted the next day for the actual ceremony. Due to the watchful eyes of my sisters on campus and the not-so-fantastic weather, the rock remained painted for our wedding the next day, and while we were not able to take pictures with the rock, our photographer was able to take a picture of the rock as it looked on our wedding day.

Beth (Teschner ’03) Story

60-year love connection

Please find the attached photo of my mother, Kathleen (Peterson) Bradley, on Kissing Rock.  My father, Harry Bradley, took the photo of my mother while they were students at Carthage College on the Carthage, IL campus.  They married in 1952. My mother started teaching after two years of college and my father finished his senior year, graduating in 1953.  They lived in veteran housing, which was called Collegeville. They have been married 60 years, have four children, seven grandchildren, and 10 great-grandchildren. They live in La Harpe, IL.

Judy (Bradley) Stevenson

Kathleen (Peterson) Bradley is shown sitting on Kissing Rock at the Illinois campus, where she an...


Of pins and pranksters

I was pinned while sitting on Kissing Rock at the Carthage, IL campus the last spring that it resided at that site.  I received my future husband’s fraternity pin; he was a student at Western Illinois University. Eighteen months later we became engaged during the Homecoming dance at the Kenosha campus.  We were married six months after I graduated from Carthage College in 1966.  From 1967-1969 we lived in Stuttgart, Germany, where my husband was stationed with the U.S. military. 

When the Carthage and Kenosha classes were merged several of the students at Kenosha weren’t impressed by Kissing Rock and rolled it over the cliff into the lake.  For some time I recall that it was sitting in a bed of concrete to keep that from happening again. Hopefully the scalawags who dumped the rock once before don’t get the idea to try it again during one of their class reunions. 

Roxanne (Whitson ’66) Frey

Final kiss at Illinois campus

Loren Semler '65, now a Carthage trustee, and his wife, Vickie (Myers '67) are shown sharing the ...By coincidence, I came across the attached photo (below) a few days before the latest Carthage Connection arrived. It shows the last kiss on Kissing Rock before it left the Illinois Campus.

(Members of) our fraternity, the Squires (Beta Phi Epsilon), had shovels in hand and were about to start to dig it up for the move from Carthage to Kenosha in the Spring of 1964. It was quite a project and, I believe, only its second move since being placed at the Campus Drive entrance by the South end of Evergreen Walk.

The only other move I know about is when Doc Kibbe missed the turn while entering the campus in her car and ran into it. The Rock was moved but undamaged. Can’t say the same for her car.

We borrowed a flatbed truck from Jerry Remillard’s father for the move. Jerry is not in the picture, so maybe he was taking it. That’s my wife, Vickie (Myers ’67), and I enjoying the final Illinois kiss.

After the Rock was hauled and placed on the new campus, some Turtles (Tau Sigma Chi) pushed it off the bluff and it rolled down to the shoreline. I’m not sure how many times that happened before it was finally cemented in place and the fence was installed.

If only we could know how many pinning ceremonies and marriage proposals occurred at Kissing Rock over the 100 years it has been a part of Carthage. I’ll bet that number would surprise us.

Loren H. Semler ’65

Political statement

My favorite picture of the kissing rock was in protest during the Watergate scandal with [President] Richard M. Nixon. Sociology students were keenly paying attention as The Washington Post story mentioned the break-in of the Democratic headquarters. The Watergate hearings were being held by a brave elderly senator, and news of the war heightened everyone’s attention. The Kissing Rock of 1913 was painted professionally with an American flag motif. Many of us were a little disappointed when another artist poured many colors over the flag.

Kurt Hilden ’73

A gravitational pull

Barbara Boyd '58 sits on Kissing Rock at the Illinois campus, where she met her future husband, R...The attached picture (right) is of Barbara Boyd ’58 after I had kissed her. There was a tradition that, if you kissed a girl on Kissing Rock, you were officially engaged. Although we don’t have a picture of the two of us performing this rite of engagement, which took place right around the time that this picture was taken in early 1957, the event was my official proposal of marriage to her. It must have worked, because we’ve been very happily married for 56 years.

God and Kissing Rock work in mysterious ways, because Barb had no intention of attending Carthage until Bucky Harris (then the associate director of admissions) got hold of her and convinced her that great things would happen if she attended Carthage. Likewise, I spent my freshman year at Wartburg College and, by a twist of fate and the beckoning of Kissing Rock, transferred to Carthage. Barb and I met, sealed the deal on Kissing Rock and the rest is history.

I might add that our oldest son, Russ Stamer ’83 was planning to attend a college in Rhode Island until, once again, Bucky Harris got hold of him and convinced him of the error of his ways and he wound up at Carthage. Yup, you guessed it, he met his wife, Laura, and this year they are celebrating their 28th anniversary. … Needless to say, we believe there is some magic with Kissing Rock.

Ron Stamer ’57

How much does Kissing Rock weigh?

In the spring of 1964, plans were being finalized to relocate the College from Carthage to Kenosha. Included in the move would be equipment, furniture, classroom materials, and, of course, Kissing Rock.

I had moved to Kenosha with my family two years earlier and had been named vice president for development. One day I received a phone call from Mitch Rukavina, our publicity director at the Carthage, Ill., campus.

“I have sent a story to newspapers, radio stations wire services, etc., regarding the relocation of the campus. I included information about Kissing Rock, which, as you know, will also be moved. Here’s the problem: The Associated Press (a wire service) just called me and asked me how much Kissing Rock weighed. Do you know the answer to that?”

Of course, I didn’t know how much it weighed, so I told him to check with Miss Pearl Goeller, the college registrar. Pearl had graduated from Carthage in 1920 and had held several different positions at the College. Thus she was well informed about a lot of stuff. Unfortunately, she didn’t know how much Kissing Rock weighed! Mitch called me back and asked me what he should do. I told him, “Tell the Associated Press that it weighs almost two tons. No one will know the difference.”

Mitch released the story, indicating that kissing Rock “weighs nearly two tons.” A couple of days later, Pearl Goeller, out of breath, came rushing into Mitch’s office.

“Oh, oh,” she panted, “I just heard about how much Kissing Rock weighs!”

“Good. How much does it weigh?” Mitch asked.

“Well, it weighs nearly two tons,” she replied.

“Where did you find out about it?” He asked.

“I just heard about it on the radio – WCAZ.”

Note: WCAZ is the local radio station in Carthage, Ill., and had received a copy of Mitch’s news release! Since that time, many people who are very smart have told me that Kissing Rock probably weighs less than one ton.

Jack Harris ’49

A new Turtle shell

It was Spring 1990, and our E-Board at Tau Sigma Chi wanted to do something much more significant to Kissing Rock than just paint it and defend the colors. So In 1990, members of Tau Sigma Chi (the Turtles) temporarily converted Kissing Rock into a the middle of the night, a whole crew of Turtles sneaked out of Denhart Hall, proceeded to the cliffs, and began escalating the wall facing Lake Michigan. While Fu Kilgallen, Citizen Kane and Squirrel Klabunde got the mixture ready, Vlad Bajic, Jeff Lyndell and Red Barnes were on the lookout, while the rest got our Kelly Green and white spray cans ready. Conan Moss, Joey Trosclair and Steve-O pulled up the cement mixture, and soon we had turned Kissing Rock into a magnificent Turtle! Many TEX generations would have been proud to participate in that adventure, which lasted until the early hours of the morning. Once word got out, many of the other Greeks came with hammers, and tore apart the legs. But not before we gave a lasting impression to our Carthage community.

Gonzalo Gonzalez ’90

An impromptu makeover

(We) decided to add some artistic features to Kissing Rock. We cut out stencils of a heart and lips, then picked up some gold and red paints. The next morning Kissing Rock had gold hearts and red lips. A couple days later Dean Larry Hamilton called me into his office and told me if there is any more painting, Rich Ferarra and I will clean it off with a toothbrush.

Roger Risberg ’63


I don’t believe it was ever painted while residing on the Carthage, Illinois, campus. There was a sort of spiritual or special significance to it, and painting it would have been thought to be less than sacred. It occupied a special place along Evergreen Walk at the gated entrance to the campus.

The current dimensional use of the rock’s paintings to support worthy causes on the new campus in Kenosha has a new and important significance, too.

Lester E. Schultz ’55

A daring plot

“Kissing Rock Almost Buried” rang out all over the Carthage, Illinois, campus back in the 1950s.

The Turtles had formed a semi-committee to meet after dark one night. The goal was to bury Kissing Rock!

The group gathered and was somewhat organized. The enthusiasm was definitely there, however, the Rock would barely move. The Rock tilted a bit, and that was about all it did.

Follow up … Ellsworth (Freyer ’58) lived with Mr. Kraus, who was the business manager, and Mr. Kraus knew Ellsworth worked for the maintenance department on campus. So, naturally, Ellsworth was asked if he knew anything about the “rolling-of-the-Rock” because the College shovels were used. Ellsworth said he knew nothing!  There were no arrests, but those same shovels were used to clean up the mess and put the Rock back in place.

Years later, the Rock was moved to the new campus in Kenosha, where it happily stands with years and years of paint covering its many years of lots of kissing couples who later got married — just as tradition would have it!

Yes, Ellsworth and I sat on the Rock 57 years ago.

Kay Cleveland Freyer ’59


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