Frater Joe Hopp was initiated in the spring of 1987 and his wife Karla joined the Little Sister ranks in spring 1988. Joe's major was Industrial Technology and Karla double majored in Criminal Justice and Psychology. Joe grew up on the east side of Green Bay and Karla is from Marinette. Today Joe works in Corporate Engineering for Georgia Pacific, where he has been for the past three years. Before that, he was with Jacobs Engineering for 25 years. Karla worked for a Green Bay law firm for 23 years, and, 5 years ago moved to H.J. Martin where she provides contract, real estate and business law services.
How did the two of you meet in the beginning?
It was in the fall semester of 1985 and students were able to use the ride board at UW-Platteville. People posted ride offerings to certain areas with a tear-off tab for other students to take when they needed a ride back home for breaks. Joe had a 55 Chevy and was offering rides to people who needed to get back home. He gave me a ride to Green Bay, where my parents met us and took me home to Marinette. We did connect on the ride from Platteville to Green Bay. I actually made fun of Joe's car on the ride back and he told me to get out of the car at one point.
Can you tell us about how your relationship developed? How did Joe propose to you? When did you get married?
We dated throughout our college years and our relationship started during Joe's freshman year in 1985. There was one time that I left a shopping bag from Fleet Farm in Joe's car. He then came up to my dorm to return the bag and we talked outside of Wilgus Hall. This is where we had our first kiss. We dated, broke up for the summer and were back together for the fall TKE banquet in 1988 at Chula Vista. Our 30th anniversary is in October and it is very symbolic that Mu Nu's 50th RCB is at Chula Vista this year!
Then on Valentine's Day in 1989, Joe asked me to marry him. He was interning in Ashland, Wisconsin at the time and we were 7 hours apart. We decided to meet in Stevens Point which was the halfway point. Joe was running late because he had to pick up the engagement ring in Duluth, but he had no way to let me know he was running late. He ran into some lake effect snow, which didn't help matters. Remember that this was before cell phones were around like today. He couldn't ruin the surprise, so I sat at the Burger King waiting for three hours. Joe thought I would be angry about waiting so long. He finally arrived in Stevens Point and Karla was happy when she saw him pull in. The worry was erased when he proposed to me at the hotel before dinner that night.
Our wedding took place 8 months later on October 28th, 1989 in Platteville. We chose Platteville as the location largely because of TKE. All of our friends were still there and we wanted to be able to celebrate with them. The ceremony was at the Lutheran church with dinner afterwards at the Roundtree Family Restaurant. Our reception was at the TKE house on Pine Street. Fall 1989 was our last semester of college. TKE has always been a part of our relationship and lives. The fraternity welcomed me (Karla) with open arms and a smile. It was such a fun atmosphere between the Tekes and Little Sisters.
Where did life bring you after graduation?
After we graduated, we moved back to Green Bay with Joe's parents. His job with James River Corporate Engineering fell through due to a hiring freeze. Joe earned his first career position in March 1990. I was a part-time bank teller while going to night school to earn my paralegal certification. Once I earned that, I was hired at a law firm in the area. We lived in two different duplexes in Green Bay before moving into our first house near Edison Middle School in east Green Bay. We lived there when we had all three of our boys. Our current house in Bellevue is our second home in Green Bay. We are moving again this year because we are building our first home.
Since you met in 1985, what has been your happiest moment together?
We feel that our life events get progressively happier as time passes. When we got married, our wedding day was the happiest moment. Then there was the birth of all three of our children(Nathan-22, Jacob-20, Tyler-16). Nathan is in his last year at UW-Eau Claire, Jacob is at UW-Platteville and is interning at Oshkosh Truck this summer, and Tyler is a sophomore at Preble High School where he plays on the varsity football team. So our answer to this question progressively changes with time. We took a two week long vacation to St. Croix, which is one of the best experiences that we were able to share together. We really like to travel, attend music events together, go boating as hobbies. The boys' school events, our pets (4 cats and 1 dog), and sitting on the deck with a cup of coffee are also enjoyable for us. We simply enjoy being together.
Do you have any future destinations planned? Is there any place you still want to see together?
We are planning to go back to the Caribbean for vacation after our house is built this year. We still want to see Australia together.
What has been your toughest moment in life?
Our son Nathan was diagnosed with autism when he was three and a half years old. That was a very tough moment for us. Nathan is our oldest son. Although challenging, being a part of Nathan's journey and watching him succeed has been amazing as parents of an autistic child. He wrote a book called The Adventures of Peter Gray, which was published in 2018.
What does the 50th anniversary mean to you?
We will be able to see people that we haven't in years and it will be a great time to celebrate the fraternity and friendships. Everyone will see how far Mu Nu has come in its 50 year existence and in the 30 years since the chapter restarted.
How do you compare the college atmosphere in the late 80's to now?
One big change is the absence of the Little Sisters program. There was a bond between Little Sisters and TKE brothers that may not be present today on the same level. There was a great supportive atmosphere within the chapter at that time. When we started college, the legal drinking age was 18 which changed in 1986. That is another big difference in the college atmosphere.
Social media has changed the college scene dramatically, as well as our culture in general. The Mu Nu traditions have changed over time and there are more social events with other Greek organizations now. The chapter also participates in more philanthropy today.
Your son Jacob is an active member in the chapter. What is the biggest reward of that as parents?
He found something to be a part of, a brotherhood that will support him on and off campus. We have seen personal growth and maturity as a result of his initiation into TKE Mu Nu.
What is the biggest challenge?
We worry about him as parents with the party atmosphere. But we want to give him space so he can have his own TKE experience without overshadowing it with our experiences. We want to stay involved, but not overstep into his college and Greek experience.
- City or country? Country - both
- Creamy or crunchy peanut butter? Crunchy - both
- Toilet paper over or under? Over - both
- Chocolate or vanilla? Chocolate - Joe, Vanilla - Karla
- East or west coast? Southwest - both
- Mayonnaise or Miracle Whip? Mayonnaise - Karla, Miracle Whip - Joe