Lorna Jorgenson Wendt, a UW-Madison alumna, who was a champion for women's equality before, during and after marriage, died at the age of 72 on Thursday.
Jorgenson Wendt graduated from UW-Madison in 1965, earning a bachelor's degree in music. Shortly after, she married Gary Wendt, which lasted for a little more than 30 years until he filed for divorce in 1996. Her husband, who was the CEO of General Electric Capital, originally intended to give Jorgenson Wendt just 10 percent of their assets.
Upset about how the offer demeaned her role in the family as a full-time mother, corporate spouse and home caretaker, Jorgenson Wendt made her divorce a public affair and advocated for the rights of women throughout all stages of marriage.
Following the divorce, she established the Equality in Marriage Institute in 1998, a non-profit aimed at helping women and men manage and improve relationships. The organization closed in 2006.
Out of all the publicity, Jorgenson Wendt was featured on the cover of Fortune magazine and appeared on "The Oprah Winfrey Show."
More recently, she helped to launch a program in 2016 called the Money, Relationships and Equality Initiative at the School of Human Ecology after providing a "significant gift."
At the university, the rights advocate also participated on the Women's Philanthropy Council for years and has a fellowship fund named after her to help graduate students in the Choral Program.
Born in Minot, N.D., in 1943, Jorgenson Wendt moved to Wisconsin as a teenager, but had been living in Stamford, Conn. and New York City at the time of her death, the New York Times reported.