Marianne Hondel was born in Milwaukee on August 1, 1934, and grew up in her current home in Sherman Park. She has been with the community from the beginning and has seen how it has changed over time. She is a first generation American, as both of her parents emigrated from Germany.
Ms. Hondel has very fond memories of growing up in Sherman Park and remembers when there were many empty lots and green spaces. She spent lots of time playing outside and in the streets with other kids in the neighborhood. Her parents had a victory garden in a lot across the street where they grew all sorts of vegetables. When the polio epidemic hit Milwaukee, Ms. Hondel was in eighth grade, but even that didn’t stop her and her friends from playing games outdoors, between their fences.
Ms. Hondel has a degree from Marquette University and worked for many years as an elementary school teacher in Milwaukee Public Schools. She has travelled the world and reminisces about visiting her family in Germany when she was in college.
When she got married, Ms. Hondel moved to Hales Corners. She liked it there, but wanted her son, Michael, to have a different experience growing up — so they moved back to the city. Once her son moved out, Ms. Hondel moved back in with her mother in her childhood home. They enjoyed a wonderful camaraderie until her mother passed away at 104. However, she now has plans to move into a retirement community in the future.
Ms. Hondel loves how diverse her community is. Her neighbor on one side is a Rabbi, and on the other is a young African American man, who she calls “Mr. Fixit.” Ms. Hondel is very involved with her block club, the Norwood Neighborhood Group, as well as her parish, St. Catherine’s, which has a strong focus on social justice.
Ms. Hondel believes that human beings are made to love and care, and that we function best when we support each other.
Marianne’s Childhood in Milwaukee
Why She Moved Back to the City
St. Catherine’s Parish
Falling in Love with the Neighborhood