Neil Truman Eckstein
May 16, 1923 - March 9, 2011
The Academy had its roots as an adult education curriculum in Winchester, Wisconsin, in 1973 under the leadership of Rev. Dr. Neil Truman Eckstein. In 1973 Eckstein, an English professor at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh had a dream of creating an adult education center in Winchester, Wisconsin based on the ideas embraced by Scandinavian folk academies. He and three others (Dr. Glenn Johnson, also a professor in the English Department; Pastor Vern Holtan of Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, Appleton; and Richard Kranitz, a Grafton, Wisconsin, attorney) established the Winchester Academy. Dr. Henry Lindborg, a Marian College professor, was a subsequent member of the original Board of Trustees.
The purpose of the Academy was to foster adult education by bringing together historians, poets, and other scholars to speak on a variety of topics. The organization was modeled after the Scandinavian folk academy where adults can take enrichment courses after completing formal schooling.
The Academy's program attendees in the early years came primarily from Fox Valley cities and surrounding areas. The programs were so successful that the Academy relocated to Waupaca in 1991 because of limited facilities in Winchester. With a local committee, the Winchester Academy began offering programs in Waupaca that year and ultimately moved its headquarters to Waupaca in 1993, but elected not to change the name. It has continued to present, on average, twenty-five programs annually. The Board of Trustees and the residents of Central Wisconsin are deeply indebted to Dr. Eckstein and his colleagues for their intellectual curiosity and dedicated pursuit of learning. Dr. Eckstein passed away on March 9, 2011, but the tradition he founded, lives on.
During the last 50 years Waupaca has changed dramatically. The city's population has risen from approximately 4000 to nearly 6000, with a summer census of 10,000 to 12,000, including seasonal residents. Industries have grown, some with world markets, and the educational system (including Fox Valley Technical College's satellite campus), is among the best in the state. Winchester Academy is no small part of this progress. Over the years we have attempted to provide opportunities for everyone to expand their learning experiences from Art to Zoology, and keep pace with rapidly changing world dynamics.