Hanrahans Named Rotary Persons of the Year
Pat and Mary Hanrahan have been named “Persons of the Year” by the Kewaunee Rotary Club for their contributions to the community.
The couple will be recognized at a special dinner on Sunday, May 1, at Beverly Gardens, 5911 Pine Grove Road, Denmark, with a social hour that begins at 5 p.m. and a 6 p.m. dinner and presentation. Tickets are $30 and can be purchased at Baylake Bank in Kewaunee, Novak Agency and from any Kewaunee Rotary member.
Pat was born in Kewaunee as the only child of Ralph and Viola Hanrahan. His parents farmed and ran a milk bottling and home delivery service in Kewaunee. He attended Holy Rosary School and Kewaunee High School.
After graduating in 1959, he attended Farm Short Course at UW-Madison. On returning home, he became a field man for the Kewaunee County Dairy Herd Information Association (DHIA). As a member of the Kewaunee County Farm Bureau, he was sent to their state conventions to formulate plans to organize a youth group in Kewaunee County. He organized and was the first president of the Kewaunee County Farm Bureau Rural Youth organization that is now known as the Farm Bureau Young Farmer and Agriculturist program.
In 1962, besides farming, he started driving a school bus for Dworak Bus Service, driving a daily school bus route. He has now driven buses on and off for 54 years and still drives for school trips for both Dworak and Erichsen bus services.
He also became a member of the Army Reserves in 1962 and serviced in active duty from November 1962 to June 1963. He then served in the reserve unit until 1968, attending camp for two weeks every summer.
For 14 years, from 1963 to 1977, he was an active member of the Kewaunee Jaycees, serving as president for one term. While in Jaycees, he helped to organize a Jaycee group in Luxemburg. He became well-known as the “whistler” during his Jaycee years, entertaining at both local and state functions.
In 1966, he took over the family milk delivery business, which he expanded into Door and Brown counties and this business operated until 1984.
From 1967 to 1995, he was active in the Kewaunee Fire Department as an engineer. He received his gold watch as a 20-year member in 1987 and retired in 1995.
In the early 1970s, he was on a steering committee to form a snowmobile club in Kewaunee, which became known as the Moonriders Snowmobile Club.
Pat is an active member of Holy Rosary Church, and his children attended Holy Rosary School as do many of his grandchildren. He served on the Parish Council as a member of the social committee and was chairman of the last church picnic held at Bruemmer Park. He is still active today as a senior altar server for funerals held at Holy Rosary.
In December 1990, he and Mary started raising buffalo, which was a big tourist attraction on Wisconsin 42 for 16 years. They started with 10 buffalo and, at one time, had 75 animals with cows and calves.
When they updated Wisconsin 42 in 1997 through Kewaunee and added water and sewer lines past Pat and Mary’s property, the couple decided to develop the land along the lakeshore instead of farming it. It is a beautiful property and was developed into 26 lots along the lake that became known as Buffalo Heights Subdivision. It has given the couple the chance to meet many new neighbors and provide Kewaunee with many very nice new residents.
After going out of the buffalo business, Pat rented out the farmland to a neighboring farmer, but there was a three-acre fenced-in field that was very well fertilized, close to the street and right in the city with water available. Pat considered this to be a viable location for a community garden.
Mary is a native of Casco, one of five children of Ed and Marie Dillenburg. She attended Casco Graded and Casco High School and after graduation worked at the Bank of Casco until she married Pat and moved to Kewaunee.
Since she knew no one in Kewaunee, Pat convinced her to join the Kewaunee Jaycettes to meet some friends. It was a good decision and she was active in the Jaycettes for 13 years and was involved in many of their projects.
One of the events she was very active in was called Petunia Days, which involved planting petunias all over the downtown area and having a parade and festival. This later became known as the Trout Fest and grew so large that the police force actually asked the group to cut down on the advertising so the crowd won’t be so large. Mary served in all the offices and also became the first Jaycette from the Kewaunee chapter to serve as a state officer when she won election as state secretary.
In the 1980s, while Mary was employed at the Kewaunee Star, she served for several years on the Kewaunee Chamber of Commerce board of directors.
As a member of Holy Rosary Church, Mary served on the church council, as a member of the school board and on the worship committee. She is still active in the church and has just recently started playing the piano for the volunteer choir. I guess as long as she can get up the stairs to the choir she will be able to help them out.
In 1993, a group was formed in Kewaunee County now known as the Agricultural Heritage and Resources Inc. Pat and Mary joined this group shortly after they started and Mary became very active, serving as president from 2002 to 2004 and on the board of directors for many years. As president, she was involved in receiving the gift of Heritage Farm from its founder, Mike Sfat.
In 2003, AHR sponsored a six-week-long festival, featuring a statewide exhibit from the Wisconsin Arts Council called Farm Fest. Because of the festival, it was decided that a pavilion needed to be built to handle all of the activities. A huge pavilion was built that was handicapped-accessible with kitchen and bathroom facilities and a very large gathering area.
Mary was also active in writing grants to help sponsor some of the activities at Heritage Farm, especially from the Wisconsin Arts Council. She is still involved in some of the activities and also composes and produces the annual newsletter for the group.
When raising buffalo in the 1990s, Pat and Mary received so many inquiries about the animal and its meat that they decided to start a business to market its meat. Mary and daughter, Kathy, started a retail store called “The Spunky Buffalo.” where they marketed the meat and many byproducts. With the store, they were able to promote the healthy aspects of buffalo meat and also hosted school tours where they taught many schoolchildren about buffalo.
This article originally appeared on Green Bay Press Gazette: Hanrahans Named Rotary Persons of the Year