Bakers Hall of Fame

Gary Brock was inducted into the WBA Hall of Fame in 2019.

The purpose of the WBA Bakers Hall of Fame is to honor those who have provided 20 years or more of outstanding service to the baking industry, have increased public awareness of the baking industry, its phenomenal leaders, and the continuing presence of bakery as one of the basic foods in their community and on a statewide, regional and/or national basis.


2000

Fred Laufenberg, first full-time executive secretary of the WBA (1935-1960)

Fred was the first paid WBA executive secretary and he served from 1935-1960.  He took the helm during a critical time in WBA history, as during this time the WBA’s name change from Wisconsin Association of Master Bakers to the Wisconsin Bakers Association, Inc.  The make-up of the WBA state board was revised, a new schedule of dues was established, the constitution and by-laws were revised, and allied members formed their own association and applied for affiliate membership in the WBA under a group membership plan.

Joe Pipp, WBA executive secretary (1975-1986)
Joe came in at a low point in association history.  During his tenure, he helped rebuild WBA funds from a very meager to substantial amount enabling the association to benefit from interest earned on investments, he was instrumental in re-establishing WBA conventions, he increased WBA membership and handled his relationships with members diplomatically.

Bob Hiller
Rollin Pin Bakery, Janesville, WI

This was a surprise inductee that year.  Bob is a past president of WBA RBA, concerned bakers and at the time, was acting president of the Valley Bakers Cooperative Association.  He has traveled all over (plus Australia) presenting workshops, and served on and led countless committees related to the baking industry.  Also noted that while he developed into a sharp businessman, he had an infectious enthusiasm, high energy level and a very playful side.

2001

Jim Grebe Sr.
Grebe’s Bakery, West Allis, WI

Jim Grebe Sr. took over the production side of his mother’s baking business after serving in the Armed Forces in World War II.  Since then Jim has served as the Retail Bakers Association (RBA) Treasurer for many years and also as membership chairman, director, and 1st Vice President of RBA.  Jim has also served as President of the Milwaukee Retail Bakers Association and in 1965 as WBA President. 

Jerry Lane
Lane’s Bakery, Madison, WI

Lane’s Bakery has donated many of its products over the years to local charities and community events, such as the recent Dane County Junior Fair.  Jerry has served as President of the WBA from 1981-1983 and has been a WBA Board member for years and as director for the Retail Bakers Association (RBA).  Jerry has also won numerous awards as a quality baker such as the “Best of Madison” award several times, the award for cleanliness from the city of Madison, along with many WBA bakery foods and decorating contest awards.

Dennis Manderfield
Manderfield’s Bakery, 
Menasha, WI

Dennis Manderfield has been a gift to the baking industry since he was a child.  He learned the trade from his father in 1928 and passed on his gift of baking to all seven of his children. Currently, six of his children are still in the baking business.  Manderfield’s Bakery is known for its quality products while Dennis is known for quietly sharing his ideas with others in the industry.  Dennis has served on the WBA Board of Governors and the Valley Bakers Association Board.

Bob Vann (inducted posthumously)
Vann’s Pastry Shop, 
Milwaukee, WI

At age 10, Bob Vann started working in the bakery after World War II broke out.  By age 15 Bob became a full-fledged baker and later furthered his education at Dunwoody.  After mastering the art of decorating, Bob was called on to come up with a cake replica of the Grand Avenue Mall for its grand opening.  Bob served as President and Treasurer of the Milwaukee Area Bakers Association (MABA), as Treasurer of WBA from 1971-1995, was on the Executive Committee for Production Club in 1972, and was also President of the Production Club in 1993.  In recognition of his service for so many years, he was made a lifetime honorary member of the WBA. 

Helen Bessert
WBA Communications Specialist

Helen served as the WBA’s communications specialist and “The Master Baker” newsletter editor for the past 25 years.  “Through three different executive directors in some very turbulent times, she has been the glue that has held our association together. Her determination and commitment has brought a local association monthly newsletter to become the most respected monthly bakery publication in the industry,” said David Schmidt, WBA executive director. 

2002

Thomas V. Barger Sr.
Bargers Bakery & Deli, 
Milwaukee, WI

Tom Sr. owned and operated Barger’s Bakery & Deli for nearly 50 years until his retirement in 1996.  Tom Sr. and his late wife, Rose, were very dedicated to the bakery—the first 25 years the bakery prospered and the couple never took a vacation.  Tom Sr. was an active member of the local WBA and the national association, The Retailer’s Bakery Association, for many years.  Over the years Tom Sr. helped train many of the neighborhood kids to become bakers, some of who continue to work at such places as V-Richards.  “My parents made everyone that came into their bakery feel at home.  My mother new everyone’s name that walked in the door,” said Linda Kirchen, daughter of Tom and Rose Barger.  Tom Sr. was also known to always help other bakeries’ when they ran short of supplies or were in need.  Their kind spirit led Barger’s Bakery & Deli to become well known in the Milwaukee area and the surrounding suburbs until closing its doors in 1996. 

Ray Olesen
O & H Danish Bakery, Racine, WI

Ray managed O & H Danish Bakery from 1949 until his retirement in 1996.  He was the second generation out of three generations who operated the family bakery.  Ray’s three sons currently run O & H.  “Although my grandfather founded the bakery, my father is credited as being the person that made the bakery flourish,” said Erich Oleson, one of Ray’s sons, “he was the driving force behind the bakery, always looking for ways to improve the bakery, its quality and variety.”  His dedication to the family business was just as strong as his commitment to the baking industry.  From 1971-72 Ray served as vice president on the WBA Board of Governors and moved on to president serving from 1973 until 1974.  Ray also was president of the former Bakers Dozen group.  Furthermore, he was also a member of the Racine/Kenosha Bakers group, the Downtown Racine Rotary Club since 1964, and a former board member of the Racine Area Manufacturers and Commerce.

2004

Charles J. Kremer (February 26, 1864-October 18, 1933)
Kremer’s Bakery, Milwaukee, WI

1st President of Milwaukee Bakers Association (now Wisconsin Bakers Association)

Founder of the Dairy Bakery at the Wisconsin State Fair in 1924

The late Charles J. Kremer owned and operated Kremer’s Bakery in Milwaukee, WI prior to becoming a senior food inspector and dairy and food commissioner.  It was during this time when Kremer was a food inspector that he got the idea to start a dairy bakery.  He wanted the public to see the relationship between the dairy industry and the baking industry and he felt the dairy bakery at the Wisconsin State Fair would be the perfect place to get the message across.  His message stands clear today as it did when he was alive, “We stand for good bakery goods, honorable business methods, clean shops, and living prices.”  Cream Puffs were born and the legendary puffs continue to be a State Fair tradition today. 

Kremer’s son, Philip Kremer later managed the bakery alongside Fred Laufenberg, secretary of the Wisconsin Bakers Association from 1952-1965.  Kremer is survived by his seven grandchildren, Emily Kremer Hlavac, Charles Kremer, Philip Kremer, Marie Drzycimski, Philip Rozga, Betty Reuter, and Mary Hopper, as well as many great-grandchildren.  Kremer was an orphan at the age of 14 after his mother died giving birth and within eight months of her death his father, brother, and sister passed away.  Considering the tragic deaths of his family and the trauma this must have caused, “[Kremer] accomplished a lot in his lifetime,” his granddaughter Emily Hlavac said.  

On Saturday, August 14, 2004 the Kremer family was presented with a Hall of Fame plaque and a special inductee plaque to honor the memory of Charles J. Kremer on WBA Day at the Wisconsin State Fair.  A duplicate special inductee plaque was made to permanently display at the Dairy Bakery at the Wisconsin State Fair.  The WBA hopes to keep the memory of Charles J. Kremer alive for years to come by sharing his story with fairgoers and bakery visitors.

Robert J. Weber (Bob)
Weber’s Bakery, 
Lodi, WI

David Weber presented the WBA Bakers Hall of Fame plaque to his father, Robert J. Weber, at an awards dinner on Monday, September 13, 2004 honoring WBA Hall of Famers and the Bakery Operation of the Year. 

Bob Weber has been involved with the family bakery business for over 50 years.  He took over Weber’s Bakery in Lodi, WI from his father, John Weber, in 1954.  John Weber emigrated from Switzerland and later founded Weber’s Bakery in 1921, bringing his Swiss recipes and techniques and later passing them on to his son, Bob. Weber’s Bakery continues to pride itself in European style for American tastes.  You can find 30 varieties of cookies, 15 varieties of bread, the world famous Susie cookie, special occasion cakes of any kind, and Holiday specials at the bakery.  Although Bob Weber has “retired” he continues to work 4-6 hours a day, 6 days a week, at the family bakery helping his son David who is now the third generation to own and operate the family business.  Bob Weber also has two daughters, Suzanne and Jenny.

Bob has been involved with many civic groups.  Among his community activities past and/or present include:  the Lodi and Lake Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce, Lodi Community Band, All that Jazz Band, and more.  He was president and secretary of the Lodi Golf Course, President from 1967-68 of the local Jaycees Club, and was also chairman of the 1978 Bakers Convention.  He was also a board member for the local hospital and a coach for numerous youth sports teams.  From 1950-54 Bob played for the UW-Madison basketball team and was also captain of the team.  He was a member of the Lodi Curling Club and an avid bowler—both of which his bad knees forced him to give up—but he continues to be a passionate golfer.

2005

Joe Kuras (Feb. 12, 1910 – Sept. 20, 1994)
Dainty Bakery

The late Joe Kuras started working for Dopke’s Bakery on Milwaukee’s northside and for another bakery in the Milwaukee area, before starting his own business on Milwaukee’s southside in April 1947.  His business name: Dainty Bakery.

“He gave the bakery this name because of his own four dainty daughters,” said Kevin Kaiser, bakery manager at V Richard’s in Brookfield, Wis.  Kaiser accepted the award on behalf of the family.

Kuras was in business until 1980, when he sold the bakery.  He was a member of the Milwaukee Bakers Association, and president of the Association from 1964-1965 and again from 1971-1972.  He also was a member of the Wisconsin Bakers Association.

Kaiser said he worked for his grandfather from 1971 through 1976.  “During my employment at Dainty Bakery, I not only got my start in the baking industry, but I learned a lot from a baker who was my mentor and grandfather,” Kaiser said in his nomination letter to the Association.  “He taught me to work hard and do my best.  He also told me that in this industry, you don’t become rich, but you will make a decent living.  He was right.  I am still making a decent living being a baker.”

2007

Norman Graham, nominated by Fred Tausend

“Norm was a salesman for King Midas Flour Co. for many years.  I knew Norm as one of the finest human beings anyone would want to represent your industry.  I could fill this page with those ‘things’ you would want any representative to do as part of your business, but I won’t.  Norm earned the honor of being in your HALL of FAME!”

Frances E. Quigley, nominated by Mike Manderfield
“Fran was very instrumental in helping so many bakers open their bakeries and helping them purchase the product they needed cost effectively.  Some of these bakers included my own dad and grandfather.”

As taken from the March 2003 issue of “The Master Baker” following Fran’s passing:  “His leadership helped Valley Bakers grow from a seven-member, $92,000 business in 1949 to the 420-member, $26 million company it is today. Quigley will long be remembered for his initiatives to help bakers become more profitable by pooling their purchasing power.”

Joe Vann, nominated by Harold Fessenbecker

“Joe Vann started his bakery in Shorewood, Wis. in 1928.  He moved to Milwaukee in 1929 and opened a bakery on Park Place.  In 1936, he moved his bakery and himself to Murray Avenue where he lived by his bakery.

“He belonged to the Milwaukee Retail Bakers Association, the Wisconsin State Association and the National Bakers Association.  He was president of the Milwaukee Bakers Association and the Wisconsin State Bakers Association.  He was instrumental in getting an apprenticeship for the G.I.’s after World War II.  He was also instrumental in getting two national bakers conventions into Milwaukee. He had four apprentices himself, one of which ran one of his shops for two years.”

Joe served as the WBA’s 2nd vice president from 1945-1946; as vice president from 1953-1954; as president 1955-1956; and as treasurer from 1961-1968.

2008

Al Toeller
Sweetheart Cakes, Port Washington, WI

This award was kept a surprise from Toeller until he was inducted March 11. Nominated by his boss and owner of Sweetheart Cakes, Susan Runkel, Toeller has been involved in the baking industry since he was 13.  He worked at a bakery before he went to school and it was then that he fell into his life’s work.

“Al enjoys sharing his stories of how the industry has changed in his 64 plus years in the business,” Runkel said in her nomination letter.  “Back when he started, the only machines used were mixers and everything else was done by hand. Later he owned his own bakery called Toeller's Butter Crust Bakery located in Grafton, Wis. from August 1958 to September 1965.”

Toeller traveled the country selling Rondo sheeters and many bakers recall working with him and appreciated how knowledgeable he was about the industry.  After his position with Rondo Equipment, he worked in various bakeries, including his current roll at Sweetheart Cakes. 

“We have the pleasure of working with Al at the young age of 76, and he still has a passion for baking, guiding our younger workers and serving our customers with top notch pastries,” Runkel said in her nomination letter.  “Al is one of the best bakers we know. We consider ourselves privileged and very fortunate to be able to work with and know such an outstanding individual in the baking industry.”

2009

Harold J. Wirth
Hill Top Bakery, Kaukauna, WI

Nominated by his daughter, Lynn Engel, Wirth has been involved in the industry for more than 63 years.  He started his career in the industry working at Kalupa’s Bakery in Kaukauna in 1946, which is now Hill Top Bakery.  Other employers through the years included Elm Tree Bakery in Appleton, Wis., Omar Bakery in Milwaukee, and Mason’s Bakery in Florida. 

“I think my father should be included in the Bakers Hall of Fame because he has spent the majority of his life in the bakery field,” Engel said in her nomination letter.  “Harry has worked in and owned bakeries since he was 16.”

Wirth and his wife Diane, raised eight children, all of whom worked in the family bakery.  Engel was in attendance at the WBA membership dinner to talk about her dad before he received the award.  Engel and her husband Mark now own Hill Top Bakery.

“Over the years I couldn’t have asked for a better teacher.  Thank you Dad,” Engel said. 

Dino Paielli
Paielli’s Bakery, Inc., Kenosha, WI

Paielli was nominated by all 65 of his employees. They listed many reasons why their boss should be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

“He is a second generation baker who took what his parents started and grew it to what it is today,” the employees said in the nomination letter.  “His love and passion for baking is so great that he currently is training the third and fourth generation to continue that legacy.  He takes great pride in everything that he does.  He strives in putting out a consistent, top-quality product.

“He is always willing to work with customers, honoring special requests.”

Paielli also has left a mark on his employees.  “Some employees started here as the first job they ever had and have never left,” the nomination letter stated.  “He takes great pride in making every employee and every job an important part of our bakery’s success.  Many past employees stop in for a visit when they return to the area.”

Paielli thanked his family, and past and present employees for the award.  “I appreciate everything they have done through the years,” he said.  “Because of this award, I’m never going to stop!”

2012

Donna Nemecek
Artistic Cakes and Cookies, Kimberly, WI

A career more than 30 years in the making and many, many happy customers are just some of the blessings longtime WBA member Donna Nemecek has received from her years in the baking industry. Nemecek owns and operates Artistic Cakes and Cookies located in Kimberly, WI. All of her hard work and dedication to the baking industry was recognized with an induction in the Wisconsin Bakers Association (WBA) Bakers Hall of Fame Aug. 7 at WBA Day at the Wisconsin State Fair.  Surrounded by family, friends and industry colleagues, Nemecek was thankful for such an honor.  She was nominated by fellow WBA member Tamara Mugerauer of Tamara’s The Cake Guru, in Oshkosh, Wis.

Mugerauer wrote in her nomination, “Donna is truly a talented cake artist and baker. With her talent and her business sense, she has taken the concept of a small in-home cake shop that many do as a hobby, and was able to grow it into a successful business.  Donna has done much to promote sugar arts, including workshops for the WBA, for Dairyland Decorators, Edible Etchings and ICES to name a few. She truly was one of the first sugar artists in the state of Wisconsin to introduce clients to the art of fondant well before its current popularity. She is very involved in many industry groups, both in the baking industry and the wedding industry as well.”

Nemecek said news of the honor came as a complete surprise.  “When Dave Schmidt, WBA CEO, called and told me this news, I was completely overwhelmed with emotion and surprise.  This honor was never a ‘goal’ I even imagined.  I didn’t feel I’ve made that big of a difference in the world of sugar art in Wisconsin.  To have this nomination come from Tamara Mugerauer added to the element of surprise, and the emotions I was feeling.  I admire her as a talented sugar artist and a friend of many years.  This honor is surely a highlight of a very blessed career.”

2014

Jackie Scott
Scott's Pastry Shoppe, Middleton, WI

Co-owner of Scott’s Pastry Shoppe since 1982, Jackie Scott is the heart and soul of this Middleton business. All of her hard work and dedication to the baking industry was recognized with an induction in the Wisconsin Bakers Association (WBA) Bakers Hall of Fame on Tuesday, March 11th, during the WBA’s Industry Appreciation Breakfast in Milwaukee, WI.  The breakfast was held in conjunction with the Midwest Foodservice Expo. Scott was honored to be inducted into the Bakers Hall of Fame surrounded by family, friends, and industry colleagues.  She was nominated by her daughter, Dawn Westhoff.  Westhoff wrote in her nomination, “My mom is an inspiration to me and many around her. I’ve been blessed to work side by side with her for almost 20 years.” 

2016

James W. Grebe, Jr.
Grebe's Bakery, West Allis, WI

As the third generation of a now fourth generation bakery operation, James W. Grebe Jr., or “Jimmer”, as everyone in the Wisconsin Bakers Association (WBA) knew him, was recognized for his contributions and dedication to the baking industry with an induction into the WBA Hall of Fame on Monday, March 7, 2016 during the WBA’s Awards and Appetizers Networking Evening in Milwaukee, WI. “I don’t believe he ever said no to one thing that was ever asked for by this organization,” said WBA’s CEO, Dave Schmidt, CMB.  “Throughout the past 35 years, Jimmer’s constant guidance and leadership has been a strong influence on Wisconsin’s baking industry.” 

Grebe served for many years on the WBA Board of Directors and volunteered his time to assist with golf outings and other community events.  Grebe’s sons’ Brandon, Garrett, and Colton were in attendance to accept the award on his behalf.  According to Grebe’s Bakery’s website, “Family-owned and operated since 1937, Grebe’s Bakery is now in its 4th generation and is proud to still call Wisconsin our home!”

2017

Shirley “Sure” Heisler
LaSure's, Oshkosh, WI

The WBA Board of Directors inducted Shirley “Sure” Heisler from LaSure’s in Oshkosh, WI into the 2017 WBA Bakers Hall of Fame on March 13, 2017, at the WBA’s annual awards night. The event was held at the Wisconsin Center in downtown Milwaukee in conjunction with the Midwest Foodservice Expo.

Due to bad weather conditions, Heisler was unable to attend the awards night.  Instead, WBA President, Tamara Mugerauer made a special visit to La Sure’s Bakery on March 28th to present the esteemed award to Shirley where she accepted the award surrounded by friends and family.

Mugerauer listed many reasons why Heisler should be inducted into the Hall of Fame in her nomination.  “She is the epitome of class and amazing example for the business woman.”  Heisler began the business with her husband, Tom Heisler in 1974 when they turned her cake-making hobby into a bakery.  Heisler also served on the WBA Board of Directors. 

2018

Joseph Crubaugh
Fosdal Home Bakery, Stoughton, WI

For Joseph Crubaugh, baking runs in the family. His introduction to the craft started early, around age nine, at his father's bakery in Dodgeville, Wisconsin. As the sixth of eight children, he was around to help his dad after the older kids had already left the nest -- because of this, he got a wealth of hands-on baking experience at a very young age. He started out peeling potatoes and onions in the kitchen, and eventually his father entrusted him with more delicate tasks. He has fond memories of learning to hand-drop batter for cookies, muffins, and cupcakes with his dad, an old-fashioned technique that requires as much coordination and rhythm as playing music. At heart, he is an artist working with dough; and after forty-seven years of baking, he still finds time to play with his materials and make inventive and delicious new creations.

By age fifteen, he was confident that he wanted to be a professional baker just like his dad, and his grandfather before that. After spending his childhood and adolescence learning from his father, he went to baking school and then cut his teeth at a handful of small bakeries across the Midwest, each of which taught him something different about the craft. Then, he got a job at Fosdal Bakery. He stayed for almost a decade, working alongside Jerry Fosdal, the bakery's second-generation owner. He eventually left to gain more management experience, but following a stint at Everett's Bakery in Fond Du Lac, he got a call from Jerry. Together, they worked out a plan to take over Fosdal's when Jerry retired, and in 2005, he became a business owner.

Now in its thirteenth year under his lead, Fosdal Bakery has gained national recognition for innovating in the baking world while still honoring old-fashioned, made-from-scratch methods and simple, high-quality ingredients. In 2015, the WBA named Fosdal's its Bakery Operation of the Year, and in 2015 and 2016 it was named Madison Magazine's "Best of the Burbs" bakery. 

Throughout his career, he has been an invested member of the Wisconsin baking community. He attended Concerned Bakers meetings with his father, a Southwest Wisconsin bakers' association that eventually became part of the WBA. Within the past decade, he has been a board member, treasurer, and president of the WBA. 

Looking at his nearly half-century career, one understands him as a masterful baker, a driven business owner, and a craftsman of unwavering passion. 

Bob Badura
Bob & Bonnie's Donuts, Fond du Lac, WI

Bob Badura graduated from UWO in 1968- Bachelor of Science in Sociology and Anthropology. He married his wife in 1967. They have 3 daughters and 5 grandchildren. He was a social worker for 10 1/2 years in Fond du lac, Wisconsin before buying a Donutland franchise in 1978 which started an adventure of a lifetime! The retail donut shop transitioned to a wholesale donut and cake shop in 1994. After 35 years in the industry, he retired in 2014. He served on the Valley Bakers Board and was awarded the Community Spirit Award from the Fond du lac Association of Commerce. He also received the ARC employer of the Year award and was very active in the Fond du lac community. One of the things he has become well known for was employing people with disabilities. His greatest successes were having a very special group of people put out a production every single day. The support and input from WBA extremely helpful to him throughout the years and he especially enjoyed meeting other bakers/business people throughout the state at WBA events.

2019

Gary Brock 
BakeMark, Menomonee Falls, WI (inducted posthumously)

Gary Brock was the General Manager at BakeMark in Menomonee Falls. It came as a shock when he passed away in 2019. When WBA’s Foundation received a contribution in his name, the WBA Board of Directors decided to honor his legacy.

John, Tina, Angelo, and Tom from BakeMark received the plaque honoring Gary Brock and inducting him into the WBA Hall of Fame.

 


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