Mary Ann Baierl Berger seemed born to thrive in the world of business and in the world of volunteering. Born in 1936, the youngest of 8 children, into a farming family in Luxemburg, Wisconsin, Mary Ann attended St. Mary Grade School. Upon graduation from Luxemburg High School, she started her professional career working at the Luxemburg Bank. Coming from another large farming family of eight, Mary Ann met and married John Berger and grew their own family of three children in the Green Bay area. She felt very fortunate to find a loving couple who could provide wonderful child care while both she and her husband held full time professional jobs.
Mary Ann continued to work with the Bank of Luxemburg and in fact, the bank offered to sponsor her while she obtained both a bachelors’ degree from Lakeland College, and a further Graduate degree in Financial Business from the University of Wisconsin Madison. It was through a long career in banking (working for the Bank of Green Bay, later renamed Chase Bank, until she retired), that offered Mary Ann a chance to follow another passion – volunteering in the community. Mary Ann was the bank’s ‘volunteer staff person’, as well as, the loan officer. Her passions of banking and helping people by sharing her time and talents seemed to intertwine through volunteering in many non-profit organizations.
Mary Ann has been a strong advocate for each organization which she aligned herself with. Beginning in 1972, she actively served with the American Cancer Society (ACA). She chaired their annual runs and the Relay for Life. Starting in 1989, she broadened her community efforts with the American Red Cross-Lakeland Chapter and still consistently volunteers 20-25 hours a week at the blood center and area blood drives. She was also one of the first community members to participate in the One-A-Week Club. This is a group of at least 15 people who make a commitment as a group to give at least 52 pints of blood in one year. Mary Ann is a 37+ gallon blood donor.
Health is obviously important to Mary Ann, both personally and in the work place. She worked during the era of ‘allowed’ smoking in public buildings and in the work place of most businesses. Mary Ann launched a campaign at the Bank of Green Bay to ban smoking in the building. This was the start of her efforts to make all of Wisconsin’s workplaces smoke free. She worked diligently with Brown County Tobacco Free Coalition (BCTFC) to make Wisconsin restaurants and taverns smoke free and to promote programs to help people quit smoking. Her dream became a reality on May 11th, 2009 when Governor Jim Doyle signed into state law ‘smoke free work places’.
Volunteering on behalf of health organizations and those that serve the community continued to be a prime passion for both Mary Ann and her husband, John. Many local agencies have benefitted from their sharing of time and talents in leadership positions, including St Vincent’s DePaul, Red Cross, American Cancer Society, Green Bay Convention and Tourism Bureau, St. John’s Catholic Church and the Catholic Womens’ Organization, Vicariate 11, DCCW, and NCCW.
Mary Ann is very grateful to those who started and supported her interest in volunteering through her position at the Bank of Green Bay. She would like to urge others to get involved and feels strongly that volunteering is the best way to share your time and talents. Even in retirement, Mary Ann enjoys helping others through non-profit organizations, as well as, ‘escaping’ to her vegetable garden. Needless to say, even the extra bounty of fresh vegs are donated to the local Paul’s Pantry for those in need. Mary Ann Berger has a passion for life and for others.