Dorothy Hanke, a lifelong Packers fan from Milwaukee, has been named the seventh annual honoree to the Packers FAN Hall of Fame.
Nominated by her granddaughters, Traci Zagrodnik, Tami Roman, Wendi Gerharz and daughter, Suzi Schoeneich, Dorothy becomes the third woman to be so honored.
The essay supporting her nomination, penned by her granddaughters and daughter, began, "She was born in 1919, the year the Packers were born. Growing up, my sisters and I spent a lot of time with our grandmother. If it was Sunday, we were watching 'the game.' Losing most of her hearing at an early age, she always sat close to the television on an ottoman so she never missed a play. Ironically, most children learn about football from the men in the family, but our family learned from her."
"Grandma NEVER misses a game," the essay continued. "Family gatherings took place after the game. On Sundays after church, she literally rushes through the door to get home for a noon game. She then surrounds herself with her lucky Packers items, including a Packer rock she rubs when the score is down. If you are watching the game with her, be prepared to see something Vince Lombardi-like in the form of a sweet little grandma.
"She'd rather watch the game at home, but every other year ventures out to Lambeau to be with the crowd. The last game we attended was two years ago. It was winter, about 30 degrees. She was all bundled up and stood with the rest of the fans, dropping her hot chocolate from her hand on a bad call from a referee. I asked her one time why she never got a place on the season ticket list. She just smiled and said, 'I didn't think I would make it this long.' "
The family members described her home as "covered in Packers memorabilia from one end to the other. From her life-size cutout of Brett Favre to her most prized autographs of Bart Starr."
The ladies concluded by writing, "(We) truly believe that this honor would be the best 85th birthday present she could ever receive and to receive it from the Green Bay Packers would literally be a dream come true - or just to sit down and have a cup of coffee with Bart Starr."
In recognition of being selected to represent all fans as the Packers FAN Hall of Fame's seventh honorary fan, Dorothy will receive four tickets to Sunday's game vs. Jacksonville and be saluted on the Lambeau Field TundraVision video board during the contest.
She also will receive a $500 Packers Pro Shop gift certificate and a road trip for two to a 2005 Packers away game (including tickets, air fare and hotel accommodations).
In addition, she will attend and be recognized at the Packers Hall of Fame Induction Dinner next July and be permanently recognized in the Packers Hall of Fame.
In the election process, Packers fans were asked to vote on the 10 finalists - chosen by the Packers FAN Hall of Fame selection committee - whose stories best represented all Packers fans.
This year's finalists, in addition to Dorothy, included Dan Behnke, Highlands Ranch, Colo.; Charles Brown, Milwaukee; Rev. Gilbert Hagin, Marietta, S.C.; Tom Hoglen, Trenton, N.J.; Ted Kosmo, Arcadia, Wis.; Larry Primeau, De Pere, Wis.; Patti Schultz, West Bend, Wis.; Mike Seavert, New Berlin, Wis.; and Dr. Jeffery Smith, Alma, Mich.
Balloting for the FAN Hall of Fame, international in scope, yielded thousands of votes from throughout the United States and countries around the world.
The Green Bay Packers, the first professional football team to have its own hall of fame, enhanced that distinction in 1998 by establishing a Packers FAN Hall of Fame for the purpose of annually honoring a devout and longtime Packers fan.
Mel Knoke of Appleton, Wis., Louis Gardipee of Black River Falls, Wis., Ed Jablonski of Wausau, Wis., Paul Mazzoleni of Green Bay, Wanda Boggs of Brookfield, Wis., and Sister Isaac Jogues Rousseau of Milwaukee were the first, second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth honorees, respectively.
FAN Hall of Fame sponsors are ShopKo, Stein Gardens and Gifts, Best Buy and Bielinski Builders.