Connie Polzin Dornfeld, age 87, longtime reporter for the Daily Citizen and other area newspapers, passed away peacefully on Thursday, April 21, 2011 at Marvin”s Manor in Horicon with her family by her side. The writer, photographer, artist and mother suffered a stroke in November, 2009 and had been in declining health since then.
Constance Eleanor Dornfeld was born in Sault St. Marie, Ontario, Canada on Nov. 6, 1923 to Neil and Mildred (Gibson) McGregor. The family soon moved to Upper Michigan, where Connie graduated from high school in Ishpeming. As a young adult, Connie became a naturalized United States citizen and served in the Navy WAVES during World War II, attaining the rank of Yeoman First Class and receiving an honorable discharge.
Following the war Connie married Bill Polzin, with whom she had 3 children. While living in Berlin, Slinger and Fox Lake, Wisconsin she worked as a secretary in a law office, doctor”s office, and for the Fox Lake Public Schools. In Fox Lake, she also began occasionally writing articles for local newspapers.
After moving to Horicon in 1963, she briefly worked in the offices at John Deere. Soon, however, Connie began her newspaper career in earnest. She felt that there must be more going on in the city than she was reading about in the local weekly newspapers, so she contacted the Fond du Lac Commonwealth Reporter and offered to write about Horicon and vicinity for them. Within a year, that paper”s circulation in Horicon grew from a few copies to requiring the services of three high school boys to cover vast paper routes throughout the city.
Through her long career, Connie also wrote for the Horicon Reporter and the Beaver Dam Daily Citizen, until retiring in May of 2009 at the age of 85. Along the way, she received numerous awards from the Wisconsin Press Women and the National Federation of Press Women, for whom she also served at various times as President, Secretary and Treasurer. In 2009, she was awarded the Communicator of Achievement Award, the organization”s highest honor “bestowed upon those members who have distinguished themselves within and beyond their profession.”
As the usual age for retirement came and went, Connie was happily married to Harley Dornfeld and saw little reason to give up what she saw as her life”s purpose. Nothing motivated her as much as the opportunity to tell the stories of her friends and neighbors, making certain that their accomplishments, and all the school and government actions that affected them, were duly noted in the local press.
Although she dutifully sat through thousands of hours of school board and city council meetings for her stories, nothing made Connie happier than writing a report about a local student”s special achievement or a feature story about an area resident”s particular hobby or passion. Retirement was a choice that could wait; Horicon”s story had to be written today.
Connie received numerous local area awards for her reporting and community service, the latest being the Paul Harris Fellow Award from the Horicon Rotary Club in 2009. In May of 2010 she was among the WWII Veterans taking the Stars & Stripes Honor Flight to Washington D.C.
During the 1970s, Connie took up oil painting and through the years became quite accomplished, creating hundreds of attractive canvases, many of which were sold at regional art fairs throughout Wisconsin.
Connie was a member of St. Stephen”s Lutheran Church of Horicon, the St. Stephen”s Ladies Guild, the Horicon Historical Society, Collector”s Clique of Wisconsin, the Fond du Lac Artist”s Association and Horicon American Legion Post No. 157. She enjoyed volunteering at the St. Stephen food pantry and Bethesda.
Connie is survived by her children Jeff (Jana) Traintime of Burbank, CA, Cherie Polzin of Horicon and Lori (Casey Van Dyk) Hefty of Oregon, WI, as well as three grandchildren, Jessica Hefty, Bryan Hefty and Cassie Polzin, and one great-grandchild, Gunther Roundy. She is further survived by other relatives and many friends.
Connie Dornfeld was preceded in death by her parents, her only sibling, Robert M. McGregor, and her loving husband Harlan Dornfeld, who passed away in 1992.
Connie”s family extends many grateful thanks to the staff of Marvin”s Manor for their outstanding care during Connie”s illness. Also thanks to Generations Hospice and Dr. Luy Tan.
Memorials may be made to St. Stephen”s Food Pantry, 505 N. Palmatory St., Horicon, WI 53032 or the Stars & Stripes Honor Flight, PO Box 636, Port Washington, WI 53074.
Visitation for Connie will be at St. Stephen Ev. Lutheran Church in Horicon on Tuesday, April 26, 2011 from 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM. Funeral services will follow at church on Tuesday beginning at 5:00 PM. Rev. Daniel Seehafer will officiate. Military honors will be provided by the Horicon American Legion Post #157. Cremation will follow.
The Murray Funeral Home, 716 Clinton Street in Horicon, is caring for the family. To leave condolences, for directions, or for other information, please visit our website at www.MurrayFH.com.
Tuesday, April 26th, 2011, 1:00pm – 5:00pm, St. Stephen Ev. Lutheran Church-Horicon
Tuesday, April 26th, 2011, 5:00pm