I saw this story posted on Facebook recently. Spectrum News 1 gave me permission to share it. The article was written by Aly Prouty and published in June 2021.
MENOMONIE, Wis.— Your student ID is arguably one of the most important things you own while in college. It's used almost daily.
It's not uncommon for those cards to get lost. What is uncommon, is for the student to never realize it was missing in the first place, but that's exactly what happened to Bradley Quarderer. He's not even sure how it ended up underground.
Kyle Birkholz was renovating his home in Menomonie last spring. In March 2020, he started ripping floorboards out and tearing down drywall in the farmhouse. Buried beneath was a Stout State University student ID from 1969. Nearby, he resurrected a vintage Pepsi can and a collection of beer cans.
“I thought the cans were the perfect thing to find next to an old Stout ID,” Birkholz said.
The 52-year-old ID was in practically perfect condition. Birkholz, a UW-Stout graduate himself, ended up passing it on to his mom, Deb Birkholz-Friis, who is a retired operations program associate for UW-Stout's police department. She ultimately handed it over to the police chief, Jason Spetz.
The story could have ended there. Spetz held on to the card for about a year, waiting to find its owner until the worst of the pandemic had passed.
As COVID-19 cases started dropping in the Badger State, he tasked sergeant Lisa Pederson with finding the former Stout student. He said she's his best investigator.
Pederson found Bradley—the alumnus in question— in about 20 minutes.
She left a voicemail message but wasn't sure he'd return the call. Pederson said the message sounded so wild, any person could have easily thought it was a scam.
To her happy surprise, he did end up calling back, and on May 20 he drove all the way from Maplewood, Minnesota to claim his ID.
Bradley's wife, Linda Quarderer, came along for the ride. She said she loved hearing the story.
“It’s interesting because Bradley doesn’t remember the farmhouse or losing his ID," she said.
Upon further inspection, Spetz noticed only one of the semester boxes on the ID had been checked, leading him to believe Bradley lost it when he was a freshman.
“As a responsible freshman, the first thing he did was to lose his ID,” Spetz joked, adding Bradley should take his ID to a dining facility and see if there are any meals left on his plan.
“I don’t think I want a 52-year-old sandwich,” Bradley joked back.
Bradley said he rummaged through his box of college keepsakes but didn't come across his replacement ID. However, the two likely looked quite different.
In 1971, Stout State University became the University of Wisconsin-Stout after merging with other universities around the state to create the University of Wisconsin System.
Bradley did however show Pederson and Spetz his UW-Stout graduation card from 1973.
“It doesn't seem to matter where I go in this world, I always seem to run into another UW-Stout grad," Birkholz said.
And now he can say he found a "Stoutie"— or at least his ID— under a floorboard.
Aly Prouty - Digital Media Producer
Aly Prouty is a digital producer for Spectrum News 1 Wisconsin. An award-winning, multimedia journalist, she holds an honors journalism degree from Marquette University and is working toward her M.A. in journalism and media studies at The University of Alabama. Prior to joining Spectrum News in June 2020, she held a fellowship at Washingtonian magazine in D.C.