2021 Mrs. Oktoberfest Ilene Kernozek

Before moving to La Crosse 25 years ago, Ilene Kernozek did her homework.
Her husband, Tom, had received his PhD from the University of Minnesota and
had been offered a job at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. Ilene, a native
New Yorker, asked the folks at UW-L for contacts at area businesses so she could
ask each one a simple question: Is La Crosse a great place to live?

“I spoke with everyone on the list and was surprised to learn roughly eight out of the ten
individuals moved here with no intention of staying,” the 2021 Mrs. Oktoberfest says.
“Most indicated they accepted positions in La Crosse as a ‘stepping stone’ in their
careers. They never thought they would be here more than two or three years, yet they
remained 10, 12, 18 years later.

“All shared similar stories about what a wonderful place the La Crosse area was to work
and raise a family. We were sold! As a result, Tom accepted a faculty position at UW-L
and we moved here in October of 1996.”

Our community is better served as a result.

Ilene, a Certified Trust and Fiduciary Advisor at Stifel in La Crosse, has served a wide variety of
boards and initiatives that have made our community stronger.

She is known and respected as a quiet, selfless leader who brings people together
to focus on service and achievement to make La Crosse even a better place to live.
Ilene got her start volunteering more than 20 years ago.

“When our daughter, Nicole, started Girl Scouts, I wondered why we had to pass State
Road Elementary in our neighborhood to drive to another school for Scouting,” she
says. “I quickly learned the answer: It took mothers to volunteer to be troop leaders.
I really didn’t know what I was doing, but I jumped right in.

“But that’s how you start – you jump in, figure it out and give back.”

She has been giving back ever since – serving on boards, supporting education, the
arts, delivering meals, and helping those in need.

Whether advocating for her clients as a financial advisor or advocating for
the people and the organizations that need help in our community, Ilene believes
service to others is a means to give back to a community that has given so much to her
and her family.

As she told attendees at the Mrs. Oktoberfest banquet when her selection was
announced, Ilene considers herself very humbled by her selection – and feels fortunate
to be included among a group of community leaders.

“I’m honored and appreciative for all of those opportunities and more,” she says. “I’m
grateful for how this community has shaped me and my family. I’m simply doing my part
to pay back to a community that has given me so much.

“As Mrs. Oktoberfest, I want to live up to this honor – doing the right things, the right
way,” Ilene says. “I want to build on the sense of family that all of you understand and
exemplify. I always want to be in service to others.

“I want to be a great ambassador for our community in the best manner possible. I will
continue to be the hub in the wheel – doing, connecting, and networking.”

Mission accomplished, Mrs. O.

Ilene Kernozek file:
Certified Trust and Fiduciary Advisor at Stifel – Monson and Kernozek Wealth Management Team, La Crosse.
Grew up in East Northport on Long Island.
Met husband Tom, who is from Schenectady, at the State University of New York – Cortland.
Tom is a respected professor, researcher and published author in Physical Therapy and Biomechanics at UW-L.
Two children: Erik and Nicole, both live and work in Salt Lake City.

Volunteer work:
• University of Wisconsin La Crosse Foundation, Director, 2011 – present,
Board Chair, 2016 – 2018
• La Crosse Symphony Orchestra, Director, 2019 – present, Committee
Member, 2016 – 2018
• University of Wisconsin La Crosse Chancellor’s Community Council, 2011 – present
• La Crosse Symphony Orchestra, Conductor Wannabe Winner – 2015
• Women’s Fund of Greater La Crosse, Director, 2018 – 2020
• Rotary Club of La Crosse Downtown, Member, 2015 – present
• Mobile Meals, delivery volunteer 2015 – present
• FSPA Community Prayer Partner, 2016 – present
• League of Women Voters of La Crosse, Member, 2018 – present
• Coulee Region RSVP, Who Will Be Smarter Than a 5th Grader? Contestant – 2017
• La Crosse Community Theater, Nominating Committee, 2018 – present
• Central High School Booster Club, Treasurer, 2010 – 2016
• Coulee Region United Soccer Association, Team Manager, 2003 – 2010
• Riverland Girl Scouts, Troop Leader, 2004-2010

Former Mrs. Oktoberfests

YearMrs. OktoberfestMr. O
2019-2020Darryle ClottMarv
2018Mary MickelsonRandy
2017Lynn GundlachDan
2016Sue WeidemannMike
2015Peggy HerlitzkaDoug
2014Sue DillenbeckJim (Dilly)
2013Kenna ChristiansRoger
2012Julie BartelsTerry
2011Florence AlieschMike
2010Karla StanekJohn
2009Barbara LarsenTerry*
2008Robyn TankeMike
2007Sue SchultzMarc
2006Earlamae DahlbyJim
2005Rosemarie LinkCharles
2004Sharon ImesRoger
2003Jane SteingraeberPaul
2002Rita SanchezJim*
2001Joanne LitzowDavid
2000Jean Marck*Bob*
1999Eleanor St. JohnPerry*
1998Mary Patros*
1997Birgitta Linnert*Peter
1996Sandra McCormickDick
1995Patricia BogeJerome
1994Joyce WicheltRay*
1993Dorothy Boschert*Hugh
1992Jan MooreDuane
1991Kathy VehrenkampDave
1990Marita SmithGeorge
1989Jean Gitz Bassett
1988Judy BouffleurDave
1987Geri Houlihan*Don
1986Carol TabelDuane*
1985Kay TaylorRollo*
1984Olive Lawson*Eric
1983Jeanne ConnellyMark
1982Sandy KapellasTom
1981Ellen HeineckeJim
1980Alma Burns Zahn*
1979Ruth RebhanCully*
1978Marge Tierney*Bill
1977Bea Zielke*Pat*
1976Evelyn PertzschDavid*
1975Leona Amundson*Richard
1974Ione JohnsonBob*
1973Jean WesterfieldNorman*
1972Irene Lynch*Edward
1971Betty StollWally
1970Carol Bluske*Wayne
1969Leisel Peterslie*Oscar
1968Joyce LindsethLarry*
* Fondly Remembered

Who will represent La Crosse as Mrs. Oktoberfest?

Nominations for Mrs. Oktoberfest 2022 are now open!

The requirements for a nominee should be a person who:

  • Actively involved in the La Crosse Community
  • Married or previously married
  • At least 50 years old
  • Living within 20 miles of La Crosse
  • Able to devote her time to numerous Oktoberfest activities throughout the upcoming year
  • A La Crosse and Oktoberfest enthusiast
  • Aware that you are nominating them to be Mrs. Oktoberfest

The deadline for nominations is Friday, April 1, 2022 at 5:00 p.m. All nominations must be made online, through the form link below. Nominees shall remain active in the candidate pool for three years, starting with the year of the original nomination. If you have questions about the nominating process, please contact Mrs. Oktoberfest 2018 Mary Mickelson

Click here to nominate someone as Mrs. Oktoberfest