Milwaukee County Senior Hall of Fame
The 2015 Milwaukee County Senior Citizen Hall of Fame inductees were honored on Friday, May 22, 2015
Frank & Nancy Mary Herro Patsy Hladilek Deborah Lewis Charlene Smith
The 2014 Milwaukee County Senior Citizen Hall of Fame inductees were honored on May 23, 2014
Jean Hasse Fred Knueppel Lennie Mosely Robert Pietrykowski Dorothy Smith
The 2013 Milwaukee County Senior Hall of Fame inductees were honored on May 24, 2013
Shirley Browne Tom Chvala Garry Henning Cheri McGrath Lynne Reeves
The Senior Citizen Hall of Fame honors older adults in Milwaukee County who have made significant contributions to the community.
Established in 1997, the Hall of Fame honors five outstanding seniors in Milwaukee County who have served the community as volunteers and as advocates on behalf of the elderly. The Commission on Aging appoints a committee to review nominations for the Hall of Fame Award. This committee then recommends five seniors from the applicants to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Congratulations to the 2013 Milwaukee County Senior Hall of Fame. Thank you for the significant contributions you have made to the community.
The 2015 Inductee Biographies
Frank & Nancy Gonzales
Married for 51 years with six children, Frank and Nancy are a dynamic duo. Standing side by side, they have dedicated thousands of volunteer hours to their community. They are passionate advocates. Frank is recognized as a pioneering voice and community activist who has helped plant the seeds of many civic and cultural efforts in the Milwaukee’s Latino community.
An avid fundraiser, Frank’s self-proclaimed claim-to-fame, is that he and Nancy sold the first soft shell taco in Milwaukee County at a Democratic Picnic at the Bavarian Inn in the early 1970’s. As one of the school’s co-founders, Frank was known to go door-to-door asking for a one-dollar donation to support the early days of Bruce Guadalupe Community School.
Frank has been an integral part of the growth and promotion of Mexican Fiesta, starting 32 years ago as a volunteer bar manager. He now serves on the festival’s board of directors and is a board member of the Wisconsin Hispanic Scholarship Fund.
Since 2006 Frank and Nancy, daily icons at the OASIS Senior Center, have volunteered countless hours for the Milwaukee County Senior Dining program. Frank, the “Plant Care Expert”, works numerous hours nurturing the plants in the Center’s small greenhouse.
Frank was member of the Milwaukee County Commission on Aging from 2008-2014, served as Chair and Vice-Chair of the Commission’s Advocacy Committee, and Vice-Chair of the Commission from 2012-2014. He and Nancy also served on the Nutrition Council for the last six years. Nancy is ever present with Frank at all Commission meetings and Milwaukee County Department on Aging functions. Parish members for more than 50 years at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, they made volunteering for the Church and the Church festival a commitment for the entire family. Frank and Nancy are all about community and family. We honor their lifetime of advocacy and civic responsibility.
| Mary Herro
A life spent always making others feel they were the most important person best describes Mary Herro. She has been a devoted volunteer at the Village at Manor Park (WMP) for twenty years documenting over 11,000 volunteer hours. Mary has assisted in every department at VMP and spends the majority of her time with the Senior Community Club. She arranges and leads bus trips, answers phones and makes return calls, arranges seating for large dinner events and is the greeter at the events, gives tours of VMP, serves in the dining room and assists with in house marketing and open houses.
Mary has lived a life of sacrifice and service to others. She was the caretaker to her father whom had dementia; her sister whom had Parkinson’s; and for her husband, Louis, whom had multiple medical issues. She always has a smile on her face and a hug waiting for anyone in need.
As an active volunteer with the Italian Community Center and Festa Italiana, Mary and her husband, Lou, helped with senior citizen luncheons, “Taste of Italy” events, fish fry’s and the address labeling of the organization’s newspaper, The Italian Times. In 2004, the Italian Community Center recognized them for their dedication and commitment by naming them as the “Nonno and Nonna” (Royal Grandparents) of IL Grande Carnevale, the organization’s pre-Lenten costume and mask ball. “Mary is a righteous person making a difference in the lives of many; lifting the spirits of those around her. She is a one woman support group for family, friends and residents.”
Patsy was proudly nominated with humble admiration from her daughter, Jennifer. Patsy has volunteered with the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) for the past 50 years, holding various positions from PTA President, to serving on the state PTA board for 8 years, and is now an active member of the Wisconsin PTA Alumni, promoting student scholarships.
The GFWC (General Federation of Women’s Clubs) has benefited from Patsy’s dedication of time and talent for the past 19 years. During her tenure as West Allis Woman’s Club President, she created and led the “Walking in their Shoes” project, and orchestrated the “Salute to Our Veterans” spaghetti dinner, “a Can, CAN Help”, “Pennies for Preemies”, and the “Celebrity Luncheon”. Patsy has received an impressive number of prestigious awards for her valuable contributions to community. West Allis Mayor, Dan Devine, appointed Patsy to the West Allis City Celebrations Committee and to the new City Strategic Planning Committee. Patsy has also spent the last 15 years volunteering on the “Kohl’s Scholarship” selection committee, traveling to Madison for the meetings. For the past 14 years, Patsy volunteered at Aurora Women’s Pavilion and Aurora West Allis Medical Center. She has been a member and volunteer of St. Rita’s Church for 40 years and counting. The list of volunteer accomplishments is vast. It’s amazing to note that Patsy “squeezed” her volunteer efforts in while working for 16 years at Mitchell Manor and raising a family. “She has been a beautiful example for us on how to be a giving mother, wife, grandmother, friend, and volunteer. To all that know her, we have all been blessed with a great role model for the many “hats” we all need to wear in life.”
A lifelong resident of Milwaukee, Deborah Lewis has dedicated her time to improving the life of seniors in her community; helping others and giving back. She is a model of selfless giving. For the past three years Ms. Lewis has volunteered for the Interfaith Older Adult Program, the Clinton & Bernice Rose Senior Center, and Calvary Baptist Church. She has also volunteered her time with the American Cancer Society and the Milwaukee Board of Elections.
As a volunteer for Interfaith, Deborah serves as a Senior Ambassador sharing resources and services with older adults at Clinton Rose Senior Center. She also makes daily safety calls to isolated older adults, through the telephone reassurance program. Deborah serves on the Interfaith
Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) Advisory Council to help ensure the success of RSVP’s four signature programs. She assists with coordination of events at Clinton Rose Senior Center, as well as helping to facilitate events or trainings at the Interfaith central office. At Calvary Baptist Church, Ms. Lewis has served on the Greeter Ministry, the Golden Heirs Senior Ministry, Community Outreach Ministry, and the Calvary Board of Public Housing.
Deborah has been recognized for her many contributions to the community. She was awarded the Interfaith Pearls of Wisdom Award and the Golda Meir Courage to Change the World Award. Although she has received this recognition, Ms. Lewis states, “To give back is more important than to receive. People are my passion. I love making people smile.”
Charlene, retired RN, Oneida, is recognized for her endless dedication, genuine caring, and continuous selfless giving to others. She is lovingly known in her community as the “Friendly Indian Nurse” and is a strong advocate for the betterment of the Indian community. A brilliant spokesperson, Charlene, passionately educates the broader community on issues that impact Urban Indians. Charlene has been a member of The American Indian Task Force on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault (AITF) for 12 years, educating the Native American community on these issues. Now a board member, she has been actively involved with the Indian Council for 10 years. She assists Elders in her community by connecting them to resources, making home visits, and providing rides.
As a Wisconsin Pink Shawl member, Charlene travels throughout the state to Indian Reservations, educating the Native Community on Breast Health. To raise funds for this organization she teaches Native jewelry making to the Native community on her visits. She often brings her granddaughter along to Pink Shawl events and meetings, passing on the experience and demonstrating the importance of volunteering. Additionally, Charlene is a Komen for the Cure Conversation leader and an ABCD (After Breast Cancer Diagnosis) family mentor and instructor. For over 15 years, Charlene has been singing with the Oneida Hymn Singers, volunteers her performance time at funerals, schools, Indian Summer and other special events.
Many community organizations such as the Indian Elderly, W.O.L.F. and the Retired Nurses Association are happy she is retired as they benefit from her countless hours of time and talent. Charlene is not only an avid community volunteer, she is a role model to her family and her Indian Community. Her great attitude, warm caring personality, and embracing hugs make her easy to like and hard to forget, even after the very first time you meet her.
All Milwaukee County Senior Hall of Fame inductees have shown distinguished volunteer service in any one or a combination of the following categories:
- Voluntary service of an educational, community or humanitarian nature
- Exceptional contributions as a volunteer in efforts to improve the lives of people regardless of race, creed or national origin
- Voluntary service in advocacy on behalf of Wisconsin senior citizens
Click on the years below for pictures and biographies of current and past Milwaukee County Senior Hall of Fame awardees.
Hall of Fame archives 1997 - 2014
Mary Ann Ganny
Ron Schwartz -Special Century of Service Award
Irene Bishop Goggans
Viola “Vi” Hawkins
Belle Garfinkel Special Century of Service Award
Harriet Dorsey - Special Century of Service Award
Sr. Jeanne d' Arc Omilan
Louise Abrahams Yaffe
Thomas Brown Jr.
Patricia D. Miller
Mary Helen Gottwald
Gwen T. Jackson
Brahm (Bob) Schapiro