2001 Senior Hall of Fame
To read detailed biographies of all the 2001 senior hall of fame award winners scroll down the page
Sister Jeanne d'Arc
Sister Jeanne d'Arc is a vital member of her religious community, the Sisters of Saint Francis of Assisi, and has served as a mentor to women of the lay community and to young women entering religious life. However, she also extends the mission of her vows to include her surrounding community. She was born and raised in Bay View and continues to be very involved with the activities of the community.
Sister Jeanne d'Arc is involved with the Milwaukee County Prison Ministry and has been a volunteer with the Benedict Center for ten years. Her volunteer activities include inmate visitations, tutoring, assisting in the library, providing spiritual guidanceat women's retreats, and maintaining contact after individuals re-entered the community. She not only provides a source of hope and strength for these individuals but also provides nurturing and building of self-esteem.
As an extension of her long-term role as an educator, Sister d'Arc has volunteered at the Milwaukee Achievers for ten years and has provided hours of tutoring. She is noted for her humorous approach to teaching. She also takes time to volunteer at St. Ann's Center for Intergenerational Care where she assists in preparing for fund raising, makes visiting rounds to the day care clients, and serves as a source of strength and companionship. Those who know Sister d'Arc say she is totally accepting of each person who touches her life and leaves a touch of her in each life she encounters. She teaches us that those who care about the needs of others never retire as long as they are able to serve.
In 1990 after his retirement, Daryl Fonstad began volunteering at the Lutheran Home. His volunteer activities began by escorting residents to physical therapy and worship services. But this was not enough for Daryl, so he began to escor residents on field trips and when they learned he was a licensed bus driver, he became one of the Home's drivers.
However, Daryl is a persistent man and he took on a major project to improve transportation for the residents. He believed that the residents should have a state of the art motor coach specifically designed to meet the needs of frail older adults.
Daryl organized a team of researchers to locate this type of vehicle but he was repeatedly told there was no such vehicle. He then traveled to three states to find his own suppliers to provide all of the components. He initiated the concept, researched the parts and construction, helped design the vehicle, and raised over $150,000 in funds. This project took him a year and a half and in the summer of 2000 the vehicle arrived. Now residents of the Home can enjoy safe and smoth rides with ample view of the scenery.
Daryl's persistence and commitment has restored the mobility and independence for the Lutheran Home residents and other clients. Not only did he take the concept of volunteerism to the ultimate, he has been instrumental in improving the lives of older adults who are not as fortunate with their health as he is.
Kathryn Niggeman has been a resident of Milwaukee County for 60 years, is the mother of five, grandmother of 14, great grandmother of 8, teacher for 37 years, and graduated at the age of 60 from Alverno college. She retired in 1985 and began a career as a volunteer, which has resulted in significant contributions to older adults in her neighborhood, church, and the southwestern community. Kathryn has donated many hours while she managed part-time teaching, a large family, and an ill husband.
Kathryn served as her husband's caregiver until his death in 1999 after 58 years of marriage. Kathryn is grateful for the family support since his loss and feels she must continue with her work of assisting others, particularly the elderly and adolescents.
For 16 years Kathryn has been an active volunteer for the Milwaukee Archdiocese Council of Catholic Women and is involved with Senior Blessed Sacrament Organization. She was instrumental in developing their partnership with the 55+ Program. She also volunteers for overseas missions, and is secretary of her Parish Council and Chairperson of its Human Concerns Committee. She was selected by Congressman Kleczka to represent SE Wisconsin as the Senior Intern in Washington D.C. in 1985.
Despite all of the responsibility she has incurred during her lifetime, Kathryn says she has inherited qualities of compassion, caring, loving and respect for others which has helped her in her service to others. At the age of 82 she continues to reach out to those that are isolated and in need.
Nellie Wilson has been an inspiration for the community due to her commitment to advocacy for those less fortunate. She is considered a pioneer on women's issues in the labor movement, an activist on human and civil rights issues, and an advocate for older adults.
Advocacy began for Nellie as a mother raising two daughters and working at A.O. Smith Corporation. She was the first woman elected to the office of the Smith Steelworkers Union, established the union's first Civil Rights Committee, and served as Director of Employment for their Human Resources Development Institute, helping single mothers find work.
After retirement Nellie founded the Milwaukee Northside AARP Chapter 4035 and was spokesperson for the AARP Minority Affairs Institute. Nellie is a lifetime member of the NAACP and has served on numerous boards.
Nellie, serving on the Commission on Aging from 1993 until 2000, was a vital member of its Advocacy Committee and starting in 1996 chaired that committee. During her term she has demonstrated a profound commitment to causes affecting older adults. She received the Alfred Hirsh Award for Advocacy from the Coalition of WI Aging Groups and was featured in the 1998 book, Like Our Sisters Before Us: Women of Wisconsin Labor.
Nellie has been confronted with obstacles in her lifetime and because of that she remains a leader who helps many overcome their obstacles.
Louise is described by her associates as the consummate volunteer, true activist, quintessential advocate, and a fervent believer in social justice. Her contributions to the community span her outstanding professional work in the social services field as well as her diverse work as a volunteer for over forty years.
Louise served on the Commission on Aging for seven years and served as the Chair of the Housing Committee and Vice-Chair of the Advocacy Committee. She served on the WI Board on Aging and Long Term Care for 11 years and organized a statewide Volunteer Ombudsman Program. Using the concept of volunteers as a means to develop a program of advocacy for residents of nursing homes, Louise made several hundred visits to nursing homes championing the rights of our most frail citizens.
Louise has also served on many other boards such as the UWM School of Education, Jewish Family Services, State AARP, and the Milwaukee Jewish Council. She has been a board member and Sisterhood President of Temple Emanu El B'ne Jeshurun, President of the Women's Welfare Board, and twice representative to the White House Conference on Aging. Louise has received numerous awards that reflect her commitment to social causes, including the Governor's Commendation for Outstanding Service.
Louise says, "I have the joy of knowing that in some small measure I've been able to help improve the lives of others."