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Mayors of Green Bay
W.C.E. Thomas
Francis X. Desnoyers
H. E. Eastman
Burley Follett
E. H. Ellis
Henry S. Baird
Nathan Goodell
M. P. Lindsley
C. D. Robinson
James S. Marshall
Anton Klaus
Alonzo Kimball
Dr. C. E. Crane
F. S. Ellis
J. C. Neville
J. H. M. Wigman
W. J. Abrams
Charles Hartung
Arthur C. Neville
James H. Elmore
Frank B. Desnoyers
Simon J. Murphy, Jr.
J. H. Tayler
Dr. Robert E. Minahan
Winford Abrams
Elmer S. Hall
Wenzel Wiesner
James H. McGillan
John V. Diener
John S. Farrell
Alex Biemeret
Dominic Olejniczak
Otto Rachals
Roman Denissen
Donald Tilleman
Harris Burgoyne
Thomas Atkinson
Michael Monfils
Samuel J. Halloin
Paul F. Jadin
James J. Schmitt

 

 

 

 

John V. Diener
(1887-1937)

Mayor John V. Diener
Mayor John V. Diener 1929 -1937

Born in Baraboo, Wisconsin, Mr. Diener went through grade school and graduated from Baraboo High School. He entered Notre Dame and graduated from the law course.

He moved to Green Bay and was employed for a number of years as a fireman on the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad, then entered private law practice with Thomas F. Konop, who later was law school dean at Notre Dame.

He enlisted in the United States Army at the outset of World War I, was commissioned a First Lieutenant at Fort Sheridan, and served two years at the front in the 119th infantry of the 30th Division, an American unit attached to English forces.

John Diener married Margaret Wigman of Green Bay on July 1, 1914. They had six children: Mary Jane, Margaret Nora, Ann Katherine, John Vernon Jr., Suzanne, and Patrick Henry.

His political career was noted for his service as mayor. Prior to his election to that office, he had run unsuccessfully for District Attorney on the Democratic ticket. By serving four consecutive terms as mayor, he tied the previous record of Winford Abrams to be re-elected three times.

Washington Street

Washington Street looking north at Cherry Street, 1935. Notice some buildings still exist today. The four-story building on the corner of Washington and Cherry was a hotel which later was torn down.
Neville Public Museum of Brown County

The years of his incumbency were the most troublous since WW I because of the depression and its problems. Throughout his tenure, he battled steadfastly to keep the city's credit sound and its tax rate down. Despite the tremendous increase in relief cost, together with decreased tax returns, it was his boast that Green Bay employees had never missed a payday, and when the city did borrow, it was a "preferred customer," a preference reflected in the low interest rates obtained.

Blunt, plain-spoken, dogged in his opinions, he experienced much bitter opposition, both within and without the city administration, but he never swerved from his idea of getting the best return possible for the taxpayer's dollar, regardless of what is was spent on.

He was a steadfast battler with the state and national governments against the proposal to cut down Green Bay's allotments because of its favorable financial position. Such a policy, he repeatedly insisted, would penalize thrift and efficiency and place a premium on mismanagement. Letters and personal visits to Madison and Washington and activities through the Wisconsin and Fox River Valley Leagues of Municipalities reiterated this view. A personal visit to Secretary Harold L. Ickes, in company with officials of the Metropolitan Sewerage District, was responsible for the PWA grant for construction being advanced from thirty to forty-five percent of the cost, effecting a saving of more than $100,000 to the district.

Turner Hall

Turner Hall, a favorite gathering place. John Diener is in the center foreground.
Neville Public Museum of Brown County

John Diener was the "father" of Sullivan Post, American Legion. It was he who, in 1919, induced a group of businessmen who were war veterans to band together and apply for charter. It was the 11th post in the state to receive a charter. He was the third post commander. Some years later, he became a member of the 40 and 8 Society, a fun-making branch of the Legion and took a leading part in its activities. His experiences made a deep impression on him, and he continued to follow with close interest the military and veterans' affairs. He was a member of the County Indigent Soldiers' Commission for many years and, prior to his election as mayor, was one of the most active workers on the Legion's Memorial Day committee.