Member Education
forms and publications
about etf
frequently asked questions
contact etf
site map
related links
top of page
members retirees employers governing boards careers at etf

Department of Employee Trust Funds
May 1, 2013






Ingeborg Sidwell

70 Years of State Employee Pension Benefits

In May, 1943, legislation creating a retirement system for State of Wisconsin employees became law. Many consider Ingeborg Sidwell to be the catalyst for the system to become reality. Sidwell was a state employee who, along with several other women, scrubbed the Wisconsin State Capitol floors. She was almost 80 years old and wanted to retire, but knew it would be difficult, as she had lost much of her savings when the banks failed in the 1930s.

That spring, when Gov. Walter Goodland vetoed a bill to establish a state employee retirement system, Sidwell worried about what would happen to her and her coworkers. Many were elderly and most had medical problems. So, she sought out the governor and asked him to reconsider his decision to veto the legislation.

Soon after they met, the governor told the legislature he was “changing his mind” and asked that they override his veto. Whether Sidwell’s chat with the governor made the difference is unknown. The vote to override was swift and nearly unanimous (just one dissenter).

According to newspaper accounts, Gov. Goodland originally vetoed the bill to delay its cost until after the war.

Sidwell retired on a monthly pension of $14.70; she died in 1947 at the age of 84.

Other Links of Interest

Wisconsin Retirement System - Informational Paper 83 prepared by the Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau (January 2013)

Wisconsin Historical Society

supporting excellence in Wisconsin public service