member story

Mary Tonneberger

Public service and Russian novels are just the tip of the iceberg

By Jennie Berkson

The old adage, “if you want something done, give it to a busy person,” might apply to many people in Leelanau County, but it would be hard to find one more personified by the quote than ShareCare member Mary Tonneberger.

“Unfortunately, I have been and still am involved in way too many organizations,” Mary quipped.  Fortunately for ShareCare however, Mary’s involvement has extended to more than just membership.

“I have been a driver of the day, served on the board, chaired the membership committee and now am on the Strategic Planning Committee and a Friendly Caller. When on the board, I was the representative to the Bay Area Seniors Association and to the Area Agency on Aging,” she said.  “I enjoy representing ShareCare and spreading the word about its mission. Driving and calling allows one to meet other seniors who need assistance, and this reinforces the mission of ShareCare,”

Mary first got involved with ShareCare through the encouragement of “good neighbors, the Sarvises and Baileys who were founders and from Omena.”  Mary and her family have even been able to use ShareCare services themselves.

“Our father, Carl Tonneberger, moved in with us when he was 100 years old,” Mary said.  “And then, Anne Kelly helped us relocate him to the Cottages at the Grand Traverse Pavilions when three of us could not take care of him.”

Mary’s current and former community involvement has spanned a wide range of responsibilities, skills and arenas and included non-profit boards and elected office.  She’s been a Commodore for the Omena Yacht Club, a County Commissioner, and is the Membership Chair of the Suttons Bay Rotary chapter and the Treasurer of the Omena Women’s Club.

It’s hard to imagine that Mary would have much of an opportunity for what the rest of us would call leisure activities, but remarkably, she finds time to be an avid reader.

Her Omena-based book group recently read Women of Copper County, a historical novel about the mining industry in the Upper Peninsula.  While social distancing over the past year and a half, Mary pursued an interest in lengthy Russian novels – “Tolstoy and Dostoevsky!” as well as other literary classics – “I just finished my fourth Edith Wharton novel!”

Knee injuries have kept Mary from some favorite sports like golf and pickleball but she enjoys kayaking in Omena Bay.

Like many of us, Mary is looking forward to the opportunities for connection that will expand as COVID-related restrictions ease.  “My husband and I have travelled a lot and hope to resume this in late summer or fall. We have one daughter and four grandchildren who are in different parts of the world, so we thoroughly enjoy catching up with them,” she said.

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