HIGHLAND - Lorin K. Toepper, Ph.D., age 53, died at his home in Highland, Wis., on Jan. 3, 2014.

He was born on Aug. 26, 1960, to Leonard and Joyce (Nelson) Toepper in McHenry, Ill. He continued school in McHenry until his sophomore year in high school, when his family moved to Cornell, Wis. He graduated from high school in Cornell, in 1978.

He obtained a bachelor's degree in economics from UW-Madison in December, 1982. He went on to obtain a master of science degree in hospitality and tourism at University of Wisconsin-Stout in December, 1985. He taught entry-level marketing and management courses there in the Hospitality and Tourism Department through May, 1986.

From there, he became Associate Professor of Hospitality at Johnson & Wales University, in Providence, R.I., where he taught advanced marketing, management and strategic planning courses. While in Rhode Island, he obtained his Ph.D. in environmental and natural resource economics in December, 1991.

From September, 1991 to December, 1994, he was Assistant Professor of Tourism at Clemson University, S.C., and from January, 1995 to August, 1998, he was Assistant Professor of Marketing at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. He returned to New Glarus, Wis., in 1998 as an economic development consultant and continued his consulting firm until 2001.

In 2001, he became the Associate Dean of Business Technology, Culinary Arts and Tourism at Madison Area Technical School, where he managed all program administration including staffing and functioning of the divisional office. In July, 2006, he became Associate Dean of Business, leading 31 programs at five campuses within the newly formed Center for Business and Applied Arts.

In July, 2007, he became the Executive Director of Economic & Workforce Development-Eastern Region, where he provided workforce and economic development leadership within the Fort Atkinson area.

In July, 2009, he became the Executive Director of Economic & Workforce Development-Southwest Region, where he established partnerships with businesses, industries and communities in Dane, Iowa and Green Counties. In 2011, he founded the Wis. Grilled Cheese Championship held in Mineral Point. In 2013, he developed the college's "Street Food Academy" which provided a series of courses designed to help food entrepreneurs open a food cart in Dane County. He also served as chairman for "StartUp Weekend Madison" which brings people with different skills together to create software products to form the basis for start-up companies. He was known for his visionary skills as an administrator, his skills as a chef, his quick wit and sense of humor.

He is survived by his fiancée, Elizabeth Rosenthal of Highland, Wis.; his parents, Leonard and Joyce Toepper of Coon Rapids, Minn.; and his brother, Lance, sister-in-law, Julie, and niece, Kaitlyn of Thornton, Colo.

A memorial visitation will be held at CRESS FUNERAL HOME, 3610 Speedway Road, Madison, on Friday, Jan. 24, 2014, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Donations can be made to the Madison College Foundation.