3. Wesley Matthews (NBA)
Wesley Matthews was born in Florida but graduated from Warren Harding High School in Bridgeport, CT. He attended the University of Wisconsin at Madison, playing point guard for the school.
After a few years he entered the NBA draft and was picked 14th in the 1980 draft. The Washington Bullets chose him as a guard. Over the next eighteen years Matthews would play for no less than five teams, including the Chicago Bulls and the Los Angeles Lakers. He scored over 3,600 points over his career and earned two NBA Championship rings.
Matthews retired from professional basketball in 1996, but his son Wesley Jr., who also once lived in Madison, is now playing in the NBA.
2. Zola Jesus
Indie rock sensation Zola Jesus was born as Nika Roza Danilova. She is of Russian descent but grew up in the forest of Merrill, Wisconsin. From an early age she loved singing and was intent on learning to sing opera.
She took voice lessons and studied opera on her own as a child. After high school Danilova enrolled at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
As a teen she had invented what would become her stage name, Zola Jesus. Her stage name comes from a combination of Jesus Christ and the French writer the French writer Émile Zola. Zola Jesus was born.
In 1989 she recorded her first album from the comfort of her apartment. Thankfully for all of us who are rabid fans of her art, she hasn’t looked back since.
1. Oscar Mayer
Oscar G. Mayer was the son of the Oscar F. Mayer, the man who founded the meat packing plant that is made the Mayer name synonymous with processed meat. Oscar G. graduated from Harvard Business school in 1909 with the firm intention of adding his own expertise to the family business.
Guess where the company’s first major processing plant and headquarters was located? Yeap – good ol’ Madison. With his leadership the company grew from an annual sales amount of $4 million to $300 million in revenue (yearly) by 1965.
Oscar G. was responsible for many of the company’s food industry innovations that took place over the years, including a new vacuum seal package and a use-by date for freshness. Most people who grew up during the height of the company’s success know about the Weinermobile and the catchy jingle that spells everything out for customers. Oscar G. Mayer died in 2009.
Madison, Wisconsin, with its down-to-Earth mentality and a work ethic that is higher than other areas of the country, has given the United States many of its successful citizens. Other amazing people that called Madison, Wisconsin home at some point in their lives include the entrepreneur who founded Target Stores, John Francis Geisse, and the co-founder and naturalist behind The Sierra Club, John Muir.
Featured Image by Phil Roeder