Phillip J. Sass

Phil SassNominated 2017. A native of Milwaukee Wisconsin, Phillip Sass left his job as a food chemist and moved to Berlin in 1973 when he and a partner launched Wisconsin Spice, Inc. in an abandoned 19th century building located on Capron St. In the 35 years since its inception, Wisconsin Spice has grown from its humble beginnings into a global powerhouse in the mustard industry supplying over 25 countries with its products.

In 1985, Sass, now sole owner, moved the company to its existing facility in Berlin’s South Industrial Park as the first occupant in the newly created park. Multiple additions have helped the company grow in place.

Sass has given back to the community even while growing the company. For more than 20 years – 1985 to 2016 – he was coach of the Berlin Barracuda Swim Team, donating 25-30 hours/week to coaching, preparing for practices, and attending swim meets. During that time, the team had swimmers compete at the State level every year, and frequently had swimmers qualify for “Zone” regional championships as well. There were several swimmers who qualified for national competitions under the coaching of Sass, and multiple swimmers went on to compete at Division I and II universities.

Additionally, Sass led a group that was instrumental in convincing the School Board to include a girls’ and boys’ swim team at Berlin High School beginning in 1994. He was coach of that team from its inception to 2007. During that time, Sass coached four state champions and several All-State swimmers. He led the boys’ team to win the State Championship in 2001. He was named Boys’ Coach of the Year (Division 2) in 2001 and Girls’ Coach of the Year (Division 2) in 2002.

Throughout his life, Phil Sass has made community service, volunteerism and mentorship the cornerstones of his life. The accomplishments he achieved are the outcome of his own strict adherence to the 3 D’s – Desire, Determination, and Dedication.

Stephanie Ceman

Stephanie Ceman 2017Nominated 2017. Stephanie Ceman graduated from Berlin High School in 1983. At that time she headed for UW-Madison, planning to go to medical school. While there she majored in bacteriology and graduated with distinction in 1987. Part of her preparation for medical school included research in a genetics lab. This became her focus and in 1994 earned her PhD in Genetics. Because she was working on the genetics of the immune system Stephanie’s next course was to pursue the cell biology of the immune system and from that obtained a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Chicago in Immunology.

Continuing her journey she went to Emory University in Atlanta as a Howard Hughes Medical Institute research associate. In time she was promoted to research assistant professor at Emory.

In 2003, Stephanie became affiliated with the University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign, where she does research and publishes in peer-reviewed journals and books, in addition to teaching medical genetics to first year medical students. Over the years she has attended numerous conferences, given invited talks in the U.S. and abroad, and co-holds a patent for work done at Emory University.

Outside of her teaching and research assignments, Stephanie joined Kiwanis International in her area in 2012 and has been involved in several of their projects including the Challenger League which is a baseball league for any child who cannot play in Little League – due to limited mobility or cognitive impairment. She became Game Manager in 2014. Since 2004 she has participated in the EPC program…Education to Careers and Profession Program, mentoring high school students and run by the local school district.

Dr. Ceman is currently Associate Professor, Department of Cell and Developmental Biology at the University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign. She is an affiliate faculty member of Beckman Institute; an affiliate member of the Institute Genomic Biology at University of Illinois Urbana Champaign; and Associate Professor at Carle Illinois College of Medicine. Her emphasis in research is the role of genes in cognition and research on Fragile X Syndrome.

Dr. Ceman stated that the best advice she can give a graduate is to identify how to get paid for doing something you love. As someone once told her: “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

A quote by Robert H. Schuller found on one of her paperweights has inspired her: “What would you attempt if you knew you could not fail?

William Michael McMonigal

Judge McMonigal2017Nominated 2017. W.M. “Mike” McMonigal graduated from Berlin High School in 1964. He attained a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Marquette University in Milwaukee in 1968, going on to get a Juris Doctorate from Marquette’s Law School in 1971.

Returning to Berlin he joined his father in his law practice here. In 1975 he became the Family Court Commissioner for Green Lake County, a position he held until 1992. In that year he was appointed Circuit Court judge for Green Lake County by Governor Thompson. He was reelected each term after until he retired in 2011.

While pursuing his busy law practice, Mike was asked to sit on the Berlin Hospital Association Board of Directors in 1972. Three years later he was elected Chairman of the Board and served in that capacity until 1985. He was only 28 years old at the time. During this time the hospital expanded their facility, their services and equipment.

Berlin’s growth was always important to him so he also served as a director for the Berlin Chamber of Commerce and a member of the Berlin Industrial Development Corporation.

One of his successes was promoting a referendum to reduce the City Council to a six person Council. That referendum passed in 1988. In 1991 he chaired a committee looking into upgrading Highway 116/County Trunk X to connect directly with U.S. Highway 41. With hard work, in 1995 new State Highway 91 was dedicated.

During the early 1990’s a Housing Task Force was appointed with Judge McMonigal as chairman. Through the efforts of this committee, major changes to housing initiatives and special assessments were made. Ten years later this committee was reactivated and Judge McMonigal again served as chairman.

During this time and into the present Judge McMonigal has been very involved in the Eureka Locks project and other Fox River promotions adding his expertise and guidance, giving back to the community where three generations of his family have lived.

The Judge shares these words: “Education, regardless of career chosen, remains the best guarantee for a successful life.

Theodore (Tim) H. Fortnum

Theodore H FortnumNominated 2016. Lumberjack, Farmer, Machinist, Foundryman, Engineer, Inventor, Auto dealer.

A man with many interesting stories to tell is Theodore H. Fortnum, more commonly known by his friends as “Tim” so stated an article in a February 1961 issue of the Berlin Journal.

Tim was born August 28, 1874 on a farm at Green Lake center, the 9th child of an immigrant family who came to the U.S. from England. He attended a country school up to 8th grade but continued his love of learning with correspondence courses, reading, and life experiences.

Besides farm work, Tim spent winters in lumber camps and later on had lots of stories to share. In 1899 Tim came to Berlin to go into business with his father-in-law, Niels Johnson, who operated a foundry and machine shop. With Mr. Johnson’s instructions and a correspondence course, Tim became a very proficient machinist and engineer. Some of the work done by the shop was for the quarry and cranberry industries and the steamboats and dredges that traveled the Fox River. During his career as a machinist, he designed and built small gasoline engines for both farm and marine use including a 1 cylinder gas engine.

The advent of the automobile sparked Tim’s interest in cars. He sold his first car in 1909, a one cylinder Cadillac. In 1912 he became the agent for the Reo auto and then sold Chevrolet, Oakland, Oldsmobile, Liberty, Overland, Willys Knight and Whippet cars. In 1932 he became a Dodge dealer. In 1959 he was honored by Dodge for his 25 years of service.

Tim joined the Berlin Fire Department when he moved to Berlin. He served the department for 46 years and pioneered the change from horse-drawn fire equipment to its first motorized truck in 1916. He was the engineer for this truck and also operated the old steam fire engine.

Tim came out of machining retirement to help the war effort during World War II. He set up the machine shop to do work for Clintonville Four Wheel Drive and Fairchild Aircraft.

Mr. Fortnum was an enthusiastic civic leader. He was a charter member of the Berlin Chamber of Commerce, served on the Green Lake County Board and on the Berlin City Council. In 1961 he retired from the Berlin Hospital Board of Directors, having served 42 years and was made an Honorary Life Member of the Board. He was a member of the Masonic Lodge, a life member of the Order of Eastern Star, and a long time member of the Berlin Rotary.

He often told his family and employees:

It will take your whole life to build your reputation but you can lose it in 10 minutes.

Mark G. Doll

Mark G DollNominated 2016. Mark G. Doll graduated from Berlin High School in 1967. He earned a B.A. in Finance from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 1971 and a M.B.A. degree in 1975. The son of a former Berlin High School principal, Mark was born in Berlin the oldest of three children. He credits his teachers (including his dad, George) with giving him a great base to learn.

Following his undergraduate degree, Doll started at Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co. in the investment department and worked there in various roles for the next 40 years. While working full-time he completed a Masters degree in business.
During his investment career, he worked primarily with publicly traded assets (bonds and stocks) with a primary focus on bonds. His responsibilities and titles grew during the ensuing years. From 2008 until his retirement in June of 2012, Doll served as Executive Vice President and Chief Investment Officer, reporting to the President. He oversaw professional staff of 220 in three investment departments/companies and was responsible for $164 billion in general account assets and $19 billion in separate account assets.

Doll led NML through one of the most turbulent financial periods since the Great Depression, ushering in an era of greater investment discipline while significantly contributing to NML’s product value and financial strength.
He has shared his talents with numerous non-profit organizations such as the Archdiocese of Milwaukee Finance Council and the Milwaukee Art Museum Investment Committee, the Investment Committee for the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and The Greater Milwaukee Foundation. He was the Milwaukee Board Chairman for the American Red Cross and on the Investment Committee for the American Red Cross-National in Washington D.C. He served two terms on the UWM Foundation Board on of them as Chairman.

In 2016 Governor Scott Walker appointed Doll to the State of Wisconsin Investment Board. The largest portion of the assets managed by SWIB is the trust funds of the Wisconsin Retirement System serving more than 570,000 participants.

He’d like to share these words:

Use your failures as a learning opportunity to reach your true potential.