For more than 50 years, a group of women with ties to the former Nativity School in Dubuque have regarded one another as not just friends, but family.
“We’ve all been such close friends since we were in the fourth or fifth grade at Nativity, it’s like we’re sisters,” said Liz Thor. “Some of us were neighbors. Some of our moms were in the Mothers’ Club together. We all loved each other’s parents. Some of us were in Girl Scouts together. All of us have varying personalities. But for some reason, we all just clicked.”
And to most, that’s simply how they were known: The Clique.
However, the sisters of Nativity might have known them by another name: The Troublemakers, as they also were known to be mischievous.
Thor said that the group might have been responsible for wreaking a little innocent havoc from time to time upon the nuns at Nativity, as well as those at Wahlert Catholic High School, where most of the group went on to attend.
“What didn’t we do?” said Linda Kressig, whose cousin, Paula Rapp, also is among the friend group.
“One time, a group of us were throwing snowballs at the nuns’ windows,” Thor said. “Three of us were just standing nearby. We could see it happening, but we weren’t doing anything. By the time we got home, all of our parents had been called. We all got in trouble for it.”
“Years later, the sisters would see us as adults and say, ‘I can’t believe how well you turned out,’” Ruden added. “’You’re like a totally different person.’”
Trouble-making aside, the women credit their shared, unwavering faith as a driving force to their friendship, which has lasted through marriages, divorces, having children, brothers going off to Vietnam, the loss of parents and even the demolition of Nativity School in 2018.
“The school is no longer there, but we still are,” Lori Kuhle said.
The same longevity and closeness has extended down to the womens’ daughters, who also spend time with one another. Together, the two groups often organize weekend camping trips and get-togethers.
“They’ll put us in what they call the ‘geriatric cabin,’” Thor said, with a laugh.
“There is such a history and such a bond between all of us,” Kuhle said. “We know that we have support, through the good and the bad, no matter what.”