Mary Henszey believed it was a privilege to do positive things for the city you live in and love.
For her, that city was Oconomowoc. Prior to her death in August 2014 at age 83, Henszey spent decades on the front line of community involvement serving on committees including the United Way, the Oconomowoc Chamber of Commerce, Oconomowoc Scholarship Fund and the Girl Scouts – Great Blue Heron Council, among many others. With her husband and fourth generation area native, Richard Henszey, she co-chaired the fundraising effort that resulted in the YMCA at Pabst Farms. The Henszeys also were founders and inaugural donors of the Oconomowoc Area Foundation.
Mary, a former foundation board member, was impressed by the generosity of the foundation toward the community. As a member of the Scherffius Fund advisory committee and OAF board, she participated in the awarding of more than $1.2 million to area nonprofits and causes including scouting, the expanded YMCA at Pabst Farms, AngelsGrace Hospice and the wealth of projects to benefit people of all ages.
OAF makes grants from its own endowment fund as well as the fund established with a bequest from Hilbert "Scherff" Scherffius, former owner and operator of Lorleberg True Value Hardware, who passed away in 1997. OAF has provided support to nearly 50 nonprofits enriching the lives of Oconomowoc-area residents.
The Henszeys created their own OAF-affiliated charitable fund in 2004, inspired by the legacy that the Scherffius Fund has had on the area and believing that OAF strengthens the sense of community. The Henszeys both worked for Sentry Equipment Corp., a designer and manufacturer of power plant equipment for utility companies. Mary worked as director of human resources at Sentry for many years before taking on the position of CEO and chairman following her husband’s retirement.
Mary marveled at the area’s rapid growth and foresaw greater changes to come. Though unable to predict what those might bring, she always was certain that the community would need its nonprofits, greater involvement from younger residents and OAF to meet them.
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