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Many Applauded at 'Ovation'

In  2017 GMFF recognized Ray and Marian Etzel with a Lifetime Achievement Award, Bob and Diane Cowan, with an Unsung Hero Award, and Phyllis Waters, Diane Becker, and Patsy Baer with the Shining Star Award.


For years, the Etzels have been actively volunteering for many groups, including St. Mary’s Catholic Church, St. Ben’s monthly Meal Program, Menomonee Falls Food Pantry, Menomonee Falls Historical Society, and the American Legion. Through the Knights of Columbus, Ray organized the Memorial Day Parade for many years, and he still assists in the planning. Marian volunteers at Community Memorial Hospital and reads with fourth graders in her granddaughter’s class at Ben Franklin Elementary School. Marian has even dressed up as the Easter Bunny in the Village’s annual Easter Egg Hunt.  They both are always helping others in many ways – grocery shopping, errands, meals, visits, and whatever needs to be done to help community members in the Falls.


Bob and Diane Cowan have volunteered countless hours at the Menomonee Falls Historical Society. Sue Jeskewitz, who nominated the Cowans said, “Always ready and willing to work towards the betterment of Old Falls Village, they don’t move from their commitment to better and beautify this wonderful historic landmark.” Every week Bob works on whatever project that needs his attention, while Diane helps plan and design the gardens.


Jeskewitz added, “People like Bob and Diane Cowan and the rest of the historical society membership spend countless hours working to keep Menomonee Falls history alive. Thank you to all of the caring and generous people who recognize that they need to preserve our past and are willing to give of their time and commitment to make it happen.”


The Shining Stars Award went to founders of the Children’s Community Center: Phyllis Waters, Diane Becker, and Patsy Baer.

From its founding through today, Children’s Community Center (CCC) is a school that is inclusive of all children regardless of ability. Mary Jo shared the history of the CCC, starting back fifty-five years ago when Patsy and Phyllis first met. Diane joined them some years later in 1973, as McGraw explains, “as the laws of the state changed to allow for the public education of all children with special needs from age 3 — 21.” At this time, the three agreed to start a new agency, which after much dedication, time and effort over two years formed the CCC as a non-profit agency. Today the CCC is still a special place. “Waiting lists are long. Expectant families are on those lists long before their children are born,” McGraw shared. The women’s own children and grandchildren are alumni of the center that incorporates the philosophy of Water’s motto, “Each child uniquely different. Each child equally precious.”

View previous award winners from 2016

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