For Mary Wetterauer, giving to others is simply how she was taught to live her life. The 75-year-old Worthington resident always tries to go above and beyond for everyone—values instilled in her from a young age.
“I think I came to want to help people from my parents,” she said.
Wetterauer said her father, Thomas Funaro, worked for the Pennsylvania Railroad Co. as she grew up in Columbus’ Linworth and Northland neighborhoods. Even though her family didn’t have a lot, she said her parents always did what they could for others. The family had a pear tree, and her mother, Rose Funaro (also known by her maiden name, Merendo), used the fruit to bake pies and cakes for the nuns and priests at St. Peter Roman Catholic Church on Smoky Row Road in North Columbus. Wetterauer also said she worked as a nurse for decades, which inspired her to help others.
Many of Wetterauer’s contributions came after she joined the Worthington United Methodist Church, 600 High St., 52 years ago. She said she grew up Catholic but became a Methodist after meeting her late husband, Damon, who died in 2013.
Over the years, Wetterauer said, she has volunteered for the church and served as a paid secretary. She said she “has a great relationship with everyone” at the church.
Laurie Schmidt-Moats, a resident of the Worthington Hills neighborhood in Columbus, was one of several people who nominated Wetterauer as an Everyday Hero. She said she met Wetterauer through the church in 1987.
Schmidt-Moats said Wetterauer has “a special place in heaven” because she is the most selfless person she knows.
She added that she noticed Wetterauer’s ability to step in when others needed her.
“They need help, and she’s just right there to kindly and quietly be a comfort to people,” she said.
Schmidt-Moats said Wetterauer took piano lessons from Janice Cook, who also taught both her sons. “[Wetterauer] was always at the recitals and very supportive of all of the kids,” Schmidt-Moats said.
Cook, who lives in the Olentangy Highlands neighborhood on Worthington’s western border, also was among those who nominated Wetterauer as an Everyday Hero.
She said she, too, met Wetterauer through the church and has taught her piano lessons for 20 years. During that time, she has witnessed Wetterauer help others many times. “She’s just one of the most special people on Earth,” Cook said.
Wetterauer began the piano lessons when she was caring for her husband, who had Alzheimer’s disease. “We had this music bond,” Cook said.
Through everything, Cook said, she was impressed by how Wetterauer continued to live a life of service dedicated to others. Furthermore, Cook said, she wanted to nominate Wetterauer on behalf of all of the people Wetterauer has helped over the years, many of whom were ailing and received care and assistance from her until their deaths.
Wetterauer also finds value in doing the little things. Schmidt-Moats said Wetterauer volunteers to make meals, shop for groceries and run other errands.
Wetterauer said she gives friends rides to medical appointments and plays with her grandchildren for a few hours to give their parents a break. She said she also takes care of several “fur babies” for neighbors and friends.
Wetterauer said she refuses payment for her help. Instead, she tells those she helps to “go do another good deed.” She said she hopes to pass on her perspective to her family, which has 40 members when they all get together. “I’m trying to instill this in my grandsons,” she said.
She said they have helped her volunteer with the church and other activities. When it comes down to it, Wetterauer said, she just simply “tries to be a good person.”