The movers will take care of lugging all their jazz, rock, blues, funk and folk: 3,000 records, a thousand CDs, another thousand 45s and a juke box. The collection reflects Gene and Ruth Purcell's shared passion for music and hunger for fresh sounds.
"Ninety-five percent of our music has never been on the radio," Gene Purcell said.
There's some irony in his statement, given his more than two decades' employment with public radio.
In April, he stepped down as regional manager for Wisconsin Public Radio in La Crosse, a job he held since 1996 after working as a reporter and on-air host for WLSU, the public-radio station housed at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, since 1985.
He accepted a new job as deputy director of the Wisconsin Educational Communications Board, a state agency that, along with the University of Wisconsin, oversees most public radio and television stations in the state, in addition to some educational programming for schools.
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"I always said I'm not willing to leave La Crosse unless the job is really something," he said. "All of a sudden somebody took me up on it with a great offer."
His new role will include many administrative duties with the goal of expanding and improving public broadcasting and education in the state.
He'll research new broadcast technologies and help decide when to implement them. He'll educate legislators about the agency's programs - and their funding needs. He'll still do some on-air work, on pledge drives and as a fill-in host for WPR talk shows.
"There's a lot of new territory that's unchartered," he said about the future of public broadcasting. "It's very intellectually stimulating, but also terrifying."
Purcell said he's most proud of helping to maintain local news and music on WLSU. The station rejoined WPR in 1996 partly because of funding shortages stemming from the dismantling of UW-L's Mass Communications department, of which it was formerly a part. Some listeners worried then that the station would lose its local flavor.
A decade later, Purcell said, "we're still here, still healthy, still making an impact locally. We've developed into what I think is the best bureau in the WPR system." Loyal support from the university and listeners allowed the station to retain its local focus, he said.
Ruth Purcell will continue her freelance career as a marketing communications consultant. She'll keep many of her Coulee region clients, including Franciscan Skemp and Sue Kolves Salon & Day Spa.
However, she'll have to discontinue most of her charitable work in the community, including her role on the boards of the Riverside International Friendship Gardens and Pump House Regional Arts Center and as a volunteer at the St. Clare Health Mission.
Both said they'll carry heavy hearts and deep memories as they drive away from La Crosse, where they got married in 1995 - at the Rivoli theater - and established their life together, full of music, travel and civic involvement.
The region's bluffs and rivers appealed to Ruth at first sight after growing up in the flatlands of Appleton, Wis., and will be what she'll miss most, she said. "I was amazed this could be Wisconsin," she said. Her husband, from St. Joseph's Ridge, Wis. said he'd most miss his family and the "45 years of friends" he's made here.
In addition to their professional and charitable work, the Purcells infused the area with creativity and panache, said friends and colleagues.
"I will miss Ruth's chef's skills, in addition to everything else that's great about her," said Charish Badzinski, communications associate for Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration and editor of Coulee Region Women magazine, for which Ruth wrote.
Badzinski said the Purcells would host dinner parties -such as the one last week featuring cheese and wild mushroom risotto - and served the meals on their back porch, overlooking their lush gardens. Ruth is a certified master gardener.
Beth Burgos, director of public affairs at Franciscan Skemp, recalled the theme parties at the Purcells' house. At a South Sea party, Ruth wore a grass skirt.
"It can't be too funky for Ruth," Burgos said. "And Gene has that same great sense of adventure."
That sense of adventure has led the Purcells on yearly trips abroad, to points in Europe, the Caribbean, Canada, Mexico and Asia. Often, they went to concerts together, seeing the Flaming Lips in Iceland, Joe Jackson in Paris and U2 at many venues.
"One thing we're definitely looking forward to about Madison is seeing lots of great live music," Ruth said.
Her husband agreed, although he also complimented La Crosse's scene as being underappreciated in the state, a "hidden gem" not enough people know about. And he promised many return trips, noting it's just a few hours' drive.
"I feel like we're honorary La Crossites now," he said.
Dan Simmons can be reached at (608)791-8217 or email@example.com.