Bio: Schiferl, Mr./Mrs. Jim (2009)
Contact: R. Lipprandt
Surnames: O’Brien, Schiferl
----Source: The Tribune - Phonograph (Abbotsford, Clark Co. WI), Wednesday, January 21, 2009, pages 1 & 8, by Kevin O’Brien
Jim and Pauline Schiferl honored at Chamber Banquet
When Jim and Pauline Schiferl found out they were going to be receiving Community Service Awards from the Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce this year, they soon realized they wouldn’t be able to attend their own awards presentation.
In a testament to the couple’s selfless devotion to charitable work, they were busy delivering eyeglasses to poor villagers and farmers in Mexico while the rest of the Abbotsford business community was toasting their names.
"We do these things because we want to, not because we’re looking for awards," said Jim before the couple left for their 11th trip to Mexico on behalf of the Wisconsin Lions Club, which collects used eyeglasses from communities like Abbotsford for people in Third World countries.
"The glasses you give here could end up in Peru, could go to China, could go wherever," said Pauline, who has also coordinated trips to Honduras. The overwhelming gratitude of the eyeglass recipients has kept them coming back year after year.
As active Lions Club members, the Schiferls also volunteer for the Eye Bank of Wisconsin by transporting donated eyes for corneal transplants all over the state.
Both Jim and Pauline grew up in rural Dorchester before making their home in Abbotsford, Wis. Jim started working for Harold Christensen’s auction and real estate business in 1958, and in 1961, he married Pauline, who earned her nursing degree from St. Joseph’s School of Nursing in Marshfield.
Over the span of 46 years, Jim has owned and operated a total of seven businesses in Abbotsford, including a seed corn store, a coin machine shop, a billiards business, and a screen-printing shop. In 1973 he started Schiferl Realty, which he sold in 2003, though he continues to work there as a real estate broker.
Though he spent one year at UW-River Falls and had several job offers from companies outside the area, he ultimately settled into his real estate career in Abbotsford, Wis. "I went to college to become a math, chemistry and physics teacher, but I liked the real estate and auction business, and that’s probably what kept me here," he said.
Pauline started working at the Colby Clinic (now the Marshfield Clinic-Colby/Abbotsford Center) 47 years ago, and she continues to work there part-time.
During their nearly half-century in Abbotsford, the Schiferls have been heavily involved in many community organizations, primarily the old Abbotsford Jaycees and Jaycettes and the Abbotsford Lions Club.
Jim is currently serving his second term as a director on the Wisconsin Lions Foundation. He was a district governor from 2006 to 2007. All together, he has been a member of the Abbotsford Lions Club for 27 years, including 24 years with perfect attendance and five years as president.
Pauline has been on the Lions Club for 15 years, including two years as president and terms as secretary and membership chairwoman. She also served as a zone chairwoman for two years and has received the Melvin Jones and Birch-Sturm fellowship awards. While volunteering for the old Abbotsford Jaycees for 13 years, the couple helped run summer recreation programs for kids and adults, which included a softball league and trips to local pools.
Pauline is an active member of St. Bernard’s Catholic Church, singing in the choir and serving on the Diocesan Council of Catholic Women.
About 25 years ago, the couple started the Schiferl Family Charitable Foundation with $10,000. The foundation now donates about $16,000 a year to scholarships and local organizations such as Boy and Girl Scouts, churches, libraries, food pantries, fire and ambulance services, and the Abbotsford Christmas Parade.
Money has also gone to local ballfields, parks, city signs, the LuCille Tack Center for the Arts in Spencer, the ShowCase Players, the Colby Choir Parents and the Wausau Community Theater.
"We’ve made it a point to invest our money in CDs and local communities," he said. "We’ve never invested in the stock market, because we feel we earned the money in these communities." A lot of the foundation’s money goes to the Lions Eye Bank, Wisconsin Lions Foundation and the Lions Camp in Rosholt, which offers free retreats for kids and adults with seeing, hearing and cognitive disabilities as well as those suffering from diabetes.
Evidence of the couple’s contributions can be seen throughout Abbotsford, Wis.
While Jim was serving as an alderman on the Abbotsford City Council, the city invested in a nursing home, which was paid for in full before being sold. The money from the sale has been reinvested in the new Abbotsford Municipal Center and the proposed public safety building.
"We still have a building that was very well-built and probably one of the best nursing homes in the area," he said. "And now they have built on with the Alzheimer’s unit, which is a positive thing."
The couple was also instrumental in bringing a pool to the Abbotsford High School in the late 1960s, going door-to-door as Jaycee members to generate support for the project. Pauline said they initially encountered a lot of opposition from farmers and others who didn’t see the need for a pool in Abbotsford, Wis.
"I went to school board meetings as a Jaycee member at least 10 times and got voted down," Jim said. "They wouldn’t even put it on the referendum."
Eventually, after a new superintendent came on board, the board put the pool question to a referendum, and it passed despite many board members’ reluctance.
Overall, though, the Schiferls said the Abbotsford community has been generally supportive of providing new amenities for the public.
"I would say that Abbotsford has always been a progressive community," Jim said. "We’ve always been very active in furnishing parks and activities for the adults."
The Schiferls raised four kids in Abbotsford and now have eight grandchildren. "I think it’s a very excellent place to live," Jim said. "We are very happy with the school system. It educated my brothers and sisters and our four children."
The Schiferls remain humble about their contributions to the Abbotsford area, preferring to spread the credit around then take it all for themselves.
"There’s a lot of people in the community who we feel have done a lot of things, and that’s what makes the community go," she said.
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