Pillars of the Community Award Honorees

Learn more about past Pillars of the Community Honorees

2018 - Dr. Karl Hertz

Karl was born and raised in Indianapolis, Indiana, where he received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English from Marian College. He later received his Masters degree from Butler University, and his Doctorate from Indiana University. Karl and Carol have three children, Karen, Michael, and Sarah. Upon moving to Thiensville in 1984, when all their children were in college, Karl served as the Superintendent of the Mequon-Thiensville School District (MTSD) from 1984 through 1996. Under his management, the District benefited from many enhancements and new curricular programming. He was also an influential advocate of district involvement in the voluntary desegregation program know as Chapter 200. In addition to this professional accomplishment, Karl is also a long standing member of Rotary which he joined back in 1970. He has since served as the Mequon-Thiensville president and also District 6270 district governor overseeing 62 clubs in southeast Wisconsin. Holding true to the Rotary motto of service above self, Karl served as a Village of Thiensville trustee from 1998-2006 and president from 2006-2012. Additionally, Karl has served on the Ozaukee County Board as a County Supervisor for the past nine years. Karl and Carol most enjoy their church and family and have been active in the Lumen Christi Parish serving in a variety of roles including as lectors, preparing meals for the less fortunate, and refurbishing St. Cecelia church.

2017 - Stan Smith

Stan met his wife, Babs, in 1955 and they were married in 1958. Stan graduated from Oklahoma State University and moved to Southeastern Wisconsin to work for Wisconsin Bell. During his 37 years with WI Bell/AT&T/Ameritech, their family relocated frequently around the State before finally settling in Mequon in 1977. By that point they had three young children (Brad, Carrie and Randy) and felt Mequon offered a positive environment for them to grow and get a good education. The entire family was active in Crossroads Presbyterian Church and lived their Christian faith. Sadly, Babs passed away on February 17, 2017. Stan’s natural leadership talents were well recognized by a wide range of people. After retirement, he administered a partnership with Gov. Thompson to advance the use of two way interactive video in schools, courts and hospitals. Additionally, Stan let his “light shine” by serving on the MT Chamber of Commerce Board, helping start the Sunrise Rotary in 1009. Additionally, he cooperated in initiating “Music in Motion”, an outdoor performance by the Milwaukee Symphony and the Milwaukee Symphony and the Milwaukee Ballet Company. He was Executive Director the year it became the “Gathering on the Green.” Stan’s been the Newsmaker of the Year, the “Citizen of the Year”, the Executive Director of “Family Fun Before the Fourth”, and served on the Mequon Economic Development Board. Stan is a Paul Harris Fellow awardee, the highest Rotary honor, named after the founder of the first Rotary Club.

2016 - Christopher and Daniel Doerr

Shortly after the turn of the 20th century, two entrepreneurs named Edwin Ballman and Emil Doerr recognized the opportunities available through the manufacture of electric motors and founded a company. Later, that company became Baldor Electric, a name derived by using part of each of their last names. Years later, Emil’s sons formed Doerr Electric to carry on the business, and in 1972, Emil’s grandsons, Christopher and Daniel Doerr became the third generation in the business, when they founded Leeson Electric Corporation, a name that honored their father, Lee. Using the family’s 50 years of knowledge and experience, Christopher and Daniel built a successful company, and grew it through innovation and acquisition. Central to their success was the concept of providing superior customer service and treating their employees with dignity and respect. Accordingly, when they elected to share the fruits of their success through philanthropy, they gave serious consideration to projects from which their employees and customers could benefit. They also thought it was important for those stakeholders to see the project as something in which they had played a significant part. Today, when you walk into the Columbia St Mary’s Hospital of Ozaukee you enter through the two story Doerr Atrium, and recognize that the same customer centric culture of Leeson Electric is included in the approach to hospital services. The Doerr “Tradition of Caring Award” carries on the work and recognizes those individuals who demonstrated exceptional generosity through volunteerism or financial support of Columbia St Mary’s and the Ozaukee community.

2015 - The Rennicke Family

Mequon’s Rennicke family is fittingly know as our city’s “first family of baseball.” For four generations, Don and Betty Rennicke and their family have contributed not only to the sport of baseball, but to the overall quality of life in our community. The family has deep roots in Mequon: Betty grew up in Thiensville and Don was raised on the family farm at Highway 57 and County Line Road. The couple continues to live on property that was part of the farm. It was fate that Don and Betty met on a ball field - a softball game at Village Park in Thiensville. They married in 1952 and raised four children in Mequon - Scott, Randy, Dean and Amy. Don served as assistant principal at Homestead High School for 25 years and ran Homestead’s baseball program from 1969 to 1978. All three sons played in state baseball tournament teams at Homestead, coached by Don. Don and Betty’s four children still live in the area with their families. Randy and Dean work at Kapco Inc., a metal fabricating stamping company in Grafton. Additionally, Dean is involved with the Lakeshore Chinooks, a collegiate summer baseball league team based in Mequon. The Chinooks play their home games at Kapco Park on the campus of Concordia University Wisconsin. Scott is a long-time dentist in Mequon and Amy works at First Immanuel Lutheran Church in Cedarburg. All 12 of Don and Betty’s grandchildren are involved in athletics, and the family has earned an impressive total of 54 varsity letters at Homestead. Don says he has lived the Great American Dream - “to raise kids who are better than you are.”

2014 - Richard R. Pieper, Sr.

Richard is a long time resident of Mequon with a National reputation for leadership, philanthropy, business acumen and character. Dick is well known locally as the successful leader of a multi-generation family business, PPC Partners, the parent company of Pieper Electric, Inc. Pieper Electric is a powerful electrical contractor serving customers since 1947 and known to area residents by its easily recognizable read and white trucks bearing the Pieper Power logo. Dick was born and raised in Milwaukee, and purchased Pieper Electric from his dad. Dick’s vision was to build a national company through providing consistently high quality services delivered by an ethical organization. Dick’s faith is the center of his life, and the PPC website proudly states “This company is directed by Old Testament wisdom and Jesus’ example.” Dick is dedicated to developing and mentoring others, and has demonstrated, through a lifetime of commitment, that those with whom he has interfaced have developed the skills, the intellectual capacity and the emotional maturity that blends “a life well lived and a job well done” in a way that enriches us all. Dick’s work with Servant Leadership and the Wisconsin Character Education Partnership as well as his tireless commitment to the Mequon Nature Preserve and to the City of Mequon have earned him national recognition via the receipt of the 2013 American Patriot of Character Award, presented in Washington DC.

2013 - Christine Nuernberg

In 1970, Christine and her husband Robert moved to Mequon because of its great schools and reputation for being a good place to raise a family. For the three years prior to the move to Mequon she had been a Social Studies teacher in West Allis. However, with the pending arrival of the first of their two daughters, she left teaching to become a full time Mom. While Christine had earned both a BS and MS in Political Science, in addition to her MS In Curriculum an Instruction, she says that while in school she had no vision of going into politics. She did, however, think being an elected official might be of interest. Her career in the academic and non-profit sectors had provided her with valuable skills. When coupled with her service on the Mequon-Thiensville School Board and the Ozaukee County Board she approached her initial campaign for Mayor with a broad range of experience and leadership talents. Christine was initially elected as Mequon’s Mayor in April 1988 and was subsequently re-elected in the next three Mayoral races. After 12 years of service and accomplishment, she chose not to stan for re-election in 2010. But her service to the community goes on through her volunteer work.

2012 - The Sommer Family

In 1943, the Sommer Family opened a General Motors dealership in a service station on the corner of Hwy 57 and Mequon Road. In a few short years the business and outgrown its initial facility and moved to Main Street in Thiensville. In 1978, continued growth prompted another relocation to the property on which the company still has it’s operations. Along the way, however, the business grew and now employs over 100 people. Sommer’s automotive still sells General Motors Buick and GMC product lines, and also has become the Midwest’s largest Subaru Dealer. Their success has been recognized with “Best in Class” and “Mark of Excellence” awards from GM and “Subaru Stellar Performer Awards.” In 2005 they were recognized as the Business of the Year by the State of Wisconsin. But it is their generous support for the Mequon/Thiensville communities that really sets them apart. Through community service organizations, their churches and their Sommer’s Family Foundation, they have given of their time, talents and resources to the betterment of the entire area.
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