Jefferson Award Winner, Sister Mary Ann Gschwind

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WXOW) — This month’s winner is a La Crosse woman who says ever since she was a little girl, the Franciscans left a lasting impression on her and influenced her decision to live a life of service.

Sister Mary Ann Gschwind sings like an angel but when she speaks people listen.

Darryle Clott nominated Sister Mary Ann, a woman she calls a friend and mentor to many women in the La Crosse community. “She is an inspiration to me as a woman. I always tell her that she reminds me of an energizer bunny because she just goes and goes. The thing I can’t get over about her is that she is everywhere goodness happens,” said Clott.

Sister Mary Ann says she knew early on that a life of service was the answer to her dreams. “My whole career in grade school and high school with the Franciscan Sisters and of course they were such good role models that I thought maybe I could be like that too,” said Gschwind.

In those days you could only see your family twice a year which was hard for Sister Mary Ann since she was so close to her parents. “On really hard days I’m thinking, ‘I’m gonna dump it all and walk home’,” said Gschwind.

But she didn’t.

And that determination carried over into her work as a Superintendent and years as a teacher where Sister Mary Ann says you were taught to be fair, firm and exceedingly kind.

Sister Mary Ann is a young 74, with no plans of retiring.

However, she does plan on redirecting her energy. Because just like the words in a beautiful song that never get old, neither does the woman who helps others.

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