You have always been very active in the St. Gabriel community, and you have a long history there, is that right?
I do; I was born and raised in Hubertus and went to school at St. Hubert’s, which then became one of the parishes that collaborated with St. Gabriel’s. My mom, siblings, children and now grandchildren are attending St. Gabriel’s. This is the fourth generation from our family attending school at either St. Hubert’s or St. Gabriel’s. And we are not the only ones, as there are several families in the area that are also on their fourth generation.
Your longtime employers, the Stein family, recently donated a beautiful cross to St. Gabriel’s in your honor. What’s the story there?
Earlier this year, it was my 50th anniversary with the company and I mentioned to Dan and Larry Stein, my bosses, that I am planning to retire. Dan called my husband and asked him, “What can we get Betty for her retirement?” Brion said, “Dan, we don’t need anything; see what the school needs. She would probably want that anyway.” In March, Dan called St. Gabriel’s and asked what they could use. Eventually, they came up with a crucifix for the parish hall. Dan and Larry, and their father Marty Stein, who was my boss for 35 years before he passed, are of the Jewish faith. They wanted to combine the two faiths (Christianity and Judaism) and decided that the cross could be made from olive wood from Jerusalem, and the corpus from Italy.
Was it a total surprise that they were doing this?
I knew nothing about it. My daughter called me and said that her daughter had a big part in Mass on Wednesday and can I come to church and be there for her. I said, “Sure, I’ll tell Dan that I will be a little late.” After Mass, everyone was standing and talking in the gathering space, and Fr. Tim said, “Come with me, I want to go over something for the holiday boutique.” And we go into the parish hall, and standing in front of me was Dan and Larry Stein; they had flown in from Oregon and California for this presentation.
What did you feel like in that moment?
I was so surprised and overwhelmed that I cried. I was just very touched that they would do something like this for me.
What’s the joy that you get from your volunteer work?
I love meeting new people. I love challenges. My greatest achievement was in 1988, when we opened the Hubertus House of Horror. I was on the finance committee at the time, and the school was in danger of being closed. The convent was vacant and I asked our priest, “Can we use the old convent and create a haunted house to fundraise?” Our family and two other families were the original organizers of this event. The first year that we were opened, we received the Originality Award from the Milwaukee Journal. The house ran for over 35 years.
You have nine grandkids and one brand-new great-grandchild. What is your hope for them, if they were to read this in 50 years?
I think our world is so divisive, and I just hope that they can be considerate of people, and respectful. I hope that they can be kind and all-inclusive. I hope they can contribute to society and do good things for others.
Retirement is going to be a big change for you — what are you most looking forward to?
I really want to do things with my grandkids that I have not been able to do. And this sounds really silly, but I want to go back to Jazzercise. I used to do this 15 years ago, and I would really like to get back to it again. I realize that as we are getting older, it is important to take care of oneself. I love doing crafts and I would like to travel more.