The family of Mary L. and John I. Brodman, a couple from Kirby, are starting a new
scholarship fund to help students from Wyandot County attend Marion Technical College.
Fairy Wagner, the oldest grandchild, and Dr. Amy Adams, the youngest, wanted to pass
on their grandparents’ focus on the importance of education.
“Grandpa wanted one of us to go to college. That was drilled into our heads!” said
Dr. Adams, Vice President of Planning and Advancement at Marion Technical College.
The Brodmans raised their family on a farm outside Upper Sandusky where they had worked
since the 1800s when the family immigrated from Switzerland. That farm is still in
the family today. The Brodmans raised Belgian horses, dairy cows, and sheep.
“They were very hard workers. They loved Wyandot County and passed that on,” said
The Brodmans married in 1927 and took a three-month honeymoon through Europe. Then
they came home to Wyandot County where they raised their four children: Paul, John
Junior, Mary Catherine Thiel, and Janis Collet.
This devout Catholic family attended mass in Kirby at least once a day. They enjoyed
going uptown to Upper Sandusky on a weekend night. The girls would go to the movies,
the boys would play cards, and the parents would visit and get the local news, their
The Brodmans hoped one of their children would be able to attend college. As that
wasn’t possible, they hung their hopes on their grandchildren being able to further
their education. Many of them did attend college. Wagner grew up in the house across
the street from her grandparents and visited often. They loved their grandmother’s
baking, especially her German sugar cookies, as treats when the work was through.
John Brodman Senior died in 1960. Janis and her husband, George Collet, bought the
family farmhouse from Mary. Janis Collet was born in the farmhouse and died there.
Wagner went to work at Whirlpool, which she retired from. Amy’s father, George, also
worked at Whirlpool in addition to farming. Amy’s brother, John, won a scholarship
for the children of Whirlpool employees that helped him attend college.
Both of Wagner’s children graduated from Marion Technical College. One became a nurse
while another went into real estate. Wagner’s son, Paul, has recently purchased the
family home and is trying to restore it to its original condition when it was built
around 1912 after a fire destroyed the previous home.
“We’re excited to help other first-generation college students get ahead,” Wagner
said. “This is a great way to honor our grandparents and keep their values alive.”