Schierl’s death leaves void in Portage County community
By Gene Kemmeter
Stevens Point and Portage County lost one of its “community treasures” Tuesday, April 10.
Anne Gilfry Schierl, a retired Stevens Point physician and community activist, died unexpectedly Thursday, April 12, 2018, at her home, less than a week after attending an event to help raise funds for one of her favorite causes, the Boys & Girls Club of Portage County.
Anne, as she was known throughout the community, was a vibrant woman, willing to volunteer to help the community’s youth, arts and culture, and drug and alcohol prevention.
She had a wonderful example to follow as she was growing up. Her mother was Ruth Gilfry, Portage County’s first public health nurse who emphasized protecting and promoting the health of all citizens.
Gilfry became the head of the county nursing service in 1937 and served until 1973. The Portage County Health and Human Services Department building was renamed the Ruth Gilfry Center in 1978 in her honor, and a mural of her graces the east wall of Kristin’s Riverwalk, 1140 Clark St., in downtown Stevens Point, as one of the 10 most influential citizens in Stevens Point history.
Anne built on her family’s legacy. She was one of the first two women to graduate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Medical School in 1957 and returned to Stevens Point to serve St. Michael’s Hospital as the first female anesthesiologist.
She wound up serving as the anesthesiology department chair for more than 25 years.
She was involved in founding multiple programs in the community, including elementary school sex education, Home Free (Safe Ride Home), MORP (alcohol-free post Prom event), the Portage County Alliance for Youth, Community Capers (to help fund St. Michael’s Hospital), Shoestring Players (a performance theater for children), the Community Foundation of Central Wisconsin, The Community Show (a Community Foundation and CREATE Portage County fundraiser), the Boys & Girls Club of Portage County, Soiree Musicale (a fundraiser for the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point Music Department), ArtsBash (Theatre & Dance/Art & Design departments fundraiser) and Riverfront Jazz Festival.
She also participated in supporting Monteverdi Chorale, Hospice, Central Wisconsin Symphony, Teen Leadership Mentoring and UWSP Theater & Dance students (with several annual Anne Gilfry Schierl student scholarships). She also performed in many Area Community Theater shows, saying she did so with only one thing in mind, “to make people laugh.”
Schierl really got involved in the community as a “professional volunteer” after she retired from the hospital in 1989, spending the majority of her time and energy on the idea of making things better. She always wanted her work and words to make a difference in the lives of others, to “see what is possible, versus what is.”
Anne, the community will miss you. But you have provided multiple achievements to help your memory live on.