First things first.
Mary Shanle isn’t a Wolverine or a Spartan – she’s a Husker now.
But she’ll always be a Yooper.
The newest agent to join the Walter Insurance and Real Estate team, Mary is a native of Hancock, Michigan, a small town in the beautiful Upper Peninsula (UP).
The residents of the UP are called Yoopers and the Yoopers refer to everyone else in their state who lives below the Mackinac Bridge as ‘Trolls’— and somehow the Trolls are OK with that.
She’s had to explain a few Michigan peculiarities to us. But we’re glad she is here. She has the makings of a fine, loyal insurance agent and Husker.
Back in the UP, Mary grew up in a family of five, whose parents owned a Chrysler Dodge Jeep dealership. Their home overlooked Lake Superior and they spent their free time on the Great Lakes, fishing, boating, skiing and swimming. (If she could change one thing about Nebraska, she would move it closer to the Great Lakes or put Lake McConaughy on steroids.)
Mary earned a Business Administration degree from Michigan Technological University. Then, her fiancé’s job transfer brought her to Norfolk, Nebraska. The engagement didn’t work out, but Nebraska did. While working at a Norfolk real estate office, she met her future husband, Joe Shanle, a native of St. Edward.
In 2004, they purchased the livestock sale barn in Blue Hill. Joe came from a farm background and completed auctioneering school. Mary came from a place dubbed “the focal point of Finns”, a land of forestry and formerly, mining. “If there were farms within a two-hour radius I’d be surprised,” she says, laughing.
But she is a quick learner who was up for the challenge. She found most cattle stop when you get in front of them, and that Nebraskans are patient teachers. Blue Hill welcomed them and helped them. She developed cattle skills, learned the business and took care of the books. They were sad to leave their endeavor when it was time to move on in 2007.
Mary’s next career move was to various roles in banking – from teller, to loan clerk and compliance officer – and then motherhood to son, Noah. Joe earned his undergraduate degree in chemistry. They moved to Oklahoma, back to Grand Island, Nebraska, and ended up in Geneva in 2013, for Joe’s job at Bioiberica.
Walter Insurance approached Mary about her role as insurance agent and office accounting manager in mid-2014. She is the first person customers see when they step into the Geneva office, answering their questions, diagnosing bills, troubleshooting issues, and offering advice. She has enjoyed the chance to put her previous experience to work and likes “being able to help people when they need it,” she says of her venture into the insurance field.
She has exceeded the lofty Walter Insurance and Real Estate customer service standards.
And last fall, she passed our football standards. She wore red. She expressed disappointment at the Huskers five-point loss in Spartan Stadium.
She even confessed to a Nebraska faux pas: When she first moved to the Midwest and ate dinner at a restaurant in Yankton, S.D., she shook hands with a tall U.S. Congressman. She didn’t realize it was Tom Osborne. She didn’t realize that Tom Osborne is a BIG DEAL.
(How does one respond?)
We asked ourselves: WWTD (What Would Tom Do)?
Be gracious of course.
Besides, the Shanle name has graced Husker rosters.
And before we met Mary, we didn’t even know what a Yooper was.
Licenses: Property and Casualty
Community service: Member of Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church. Former secretary of the Blue Hill Community Club.
Family: Husband, Joe, and son, Noah, a pre-schooler.
Hobbies: Four-wheeling, swimming, boating, fishing and being outdoors in general. She also loves music and the piano.
Little Known Fact: She once met Fabio and Willie Nelson at the same function in Las Vegas. (Update: Mary is the winner of the office’s strange and little-known fact contest. It wasn’t even close.)