It’s All In The Family! – Celebrating Father’s Day

Wally Bronner and family from Bronner's CHRISTmas Wonderland.

This Father’s Day, Bronner’s family and staff are paying tribute to late founder … and father, Wally Bronner!


Maria Bronner-Sutorik, Wayne Bronner, and Carla Bronner-Spletzer pose with a life-size memorial ornament of father and Bronner's CHRISTmas Wonderland founder, Wally Bronner.

Having each worked in a field of their own before making a career at Bronner’s, we asked Wayne, Carla and Maria about working with their Dad:

What is one valuable lesson you learned?

Wayne: “The importance of all people, no matter their role in life.  Wally liked to make everyone smile.” 

Carla: “The most important lesson that I learned from Dad and Mom is that Jesus is our Savior, and He is the Reason for the Season.  All who have faith in God will have eternal life.” … And it’s this lesson that is the very heartbeat of Bronner’s CHRISTmas Wonderland!

Wally Bronner's library of books to learn different languages.
Wally Bronner’s library of foreign-language books.

Maria: “Dad taught by example how important it was to learn and use at least a few words of several foreign languages. People love hearing a few words in their native tongue. He also emphasized taking a foreign language or two in school, which I did with German and Spanish. ”

What is one memory you have of (working with) your Dad?

Wayne: “Wally would often say,  ‘You never stand so tall as when you stoop to pick up a piece of trash.’  He was well known in Frankenmuth for stopping to pick up random pieces of litter to keep our town looking pristine.” 

Carla: “There are so many wonderful memories I have of Dad.  I am so thankful that I was able to work with him on a daily basis.  I miss him every day.  Dad was a true people person … a real ‘Mr. Personality.’  He was very caring and interested in people from all walks of life, and he could easily talk to anyone anywhere.  He knew a few words from many languages, and he would often share a few of those words with people from various places … including ‘Merry Christmas’ in many languages.”

Maria: “Wally went to many business functions and their various social gatherings.  He would not be shy to stoop down on the way to the building entrance to pick up trash or pull some weeds. Now I have a hard time passing those by as well.”


One man has the ability to positively impact so many lives.

Dads are like a wellspring of wisdom and love. But much like our heavenly Father, the heart of a great father’s love knows no bounds. That’s why, as a father, step-dad, adoptive father, mentor or role-model, one man has the ability to positively impact so many lives – just as Wally Bronner did during his lifetime.

"Mr. Christmas" poses with a life-size Santa in a photo taken by the Saginaw News.
📷 Credit: Saginaw News


Like an extended family, our team members also share Wally’s imparted wisdom and character:


“I only had a couple of seasons to get to know him, but nothing beat his personal touch he had for his business and the people.  He always called you by name and always asked how the family was. In one season of working he knew my kids by name and that I was homeschooling them at the time, and he would ask how their studies were.  Family was everything to him.” 

Vintage photo of Bronner's Children's Christmas Party celebrated at Zehnder's Restaurant.
📷Bronner’s archives: Children’s Christmas Party.

“I didn’t get to work with Wally, but I was lucky enough to know him from [attending] the kids’ Christmas parties. My last year I could go, he wanted to sing Silent Night in German and I had just learned that from school so I shot my hand in the air when he asked if anyone else knew it in German expecting others to and I was the only one. He came over so excited and asked me to sing with him. I was so scared but he kept saying it will be okay and that its okay to be nervous but that shouldn’t stop me from trying something new. Which singing Silent Night in German was very new to me especially at 10 years old. I sang with him, very shyly of course, and he was so happy that I did.”


“I had no previous experience in design and display work and he patiently worked with me to teach me what he knew in the showroom.  I worked on projects directly with Wally from 1977 until 1984.  Several clients have asked me what design school that I’ve attended and I always tell them the Wally Bronner School!  He taught me to give items space, not line them up in a line like pigeons on a wire, and to always use odd numbers.  I’ve benefited from his mentoring!”


“When taking a photo of Wally and a customer, I learned not to put the bathrooms as background.”


“There are so many wonderful things to say about Wally! God’s spirit truly radiated through him. With a pep in his step he took time to greet me and the other staff members with conversation or a jolly joke daily! LOL! Wally made it a point to remember everyone’s name and their family members. Years after perusing a different career, he greeted me and my husband by name. ALL people were important to Wally!”


“What I remember most is that Wally was blessed with people skills and a remarkable memory and always made everyone feel special by recalling something about a person’s interests or where they grew up. He was quick with a joke but was deeply religious and was not afraid to share his faith with others.”


“Wally has taught me the value of taking pride in your work and treating others like they would want to be treated.  He has always treated us all as equal and made our day by cracking a joke. His pride in taking care of cleaning up Frankenmuth and Bronner’s has always inspired me.  He would always pick up garbage or scraps on the floor and throw them away and always encouraged us all to as well.  Now whenever I see garbage on the ground anywhere I will always help out and pick it up.  Everyone can help keep the Earth clean.”


“The Good Lord will be with you since all things are in ‘His’ divine hands.”


“I recall my first encounter with Wally as a new 17-year-old employee when I greeted him as ‘Mr. Bronner.’  Big mistake. He immediately corrected me by saying while he appreciated my respectful upbringing, I needed to call him “Wally” because everyone at Bronner’s is equal and works together as a team.  (‘Mrs. Bronner,’ who is just as genuine, also insisted on being called Irene.) For the next quarter century until his death, I watched Wally walk the talk on a daily basis.  Whether he was introducing me to Governor Engler and other dignitaries at WJR’s annual Saint Patrick’s Day Celebration in Detroit or a new high school co-op student from Millington, he treated everyone with an equal amount of dignity and respect. I’ve told numerous people I have two degrees: a bachelor’s  from Michigan State University and a master’s from Wally Bronner U, since he taught me things that could never be learned in a classroom.”


“Wally’s little speech he always gave, at different times, has always stuck with me. He always emphasized that ‘There is no ‘I’ in TEAM’. It rings true in every situation in our decorating department.”

Wally and Irene Bronner celebrate their 80th Birthdays with staff of Bronner's CHRISTmas Wonderland in Frankenmuth, MI.
Bronner’s team gathers to celebrate Originator Wally’s and Irene’s 80th Birthdays in 2007.


We know you’d give your children the moon if you could!

Love You To The Moon And Back metal ornament made in the USA from Bronner's CHRISTmas Wonderland.
Featured: Love You To The Moon And Back Metal Ornament (1213251)

We want you to know we love YOU to the moon and back, too!


Looking for more Father’s Day ideas? Our DIY pocket shirt Father’s Day card is perfect for giving Dad a gift card and sentiments from your heart!

DIY Father's Day card with gift card holder.

Or enjoy these unique gift ideas and the story of one Father’s love!

Father and daughter at Niagara Falls.

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