Posted by Ken Stetson - Lake Mills Rotary
Recently Lake Mills lost a life long resident and a truly fine human being in Jim Brey. As his obituary noted he was involved with numerous local organizations and associations, in addition to founding and developing Aztalan Engineering (AE), a high end machine shop known for its precision products. Jim would gladly take people through his plant and show off his workers and their machines.
 
One of his major clients was GE Medical and AE provided control mechanism for that company’s anesthesia machines, one group of which is ventilators. What is remarkable is that the finished product is sent directly from AE to hospitals and other medical sites without going through further quality testing at GE, which is normally required. AE is one of a very few companies that GE allows to ship directly to point of use locations.
 
I first met Jim through our local Rotary Club in 1998. He was fully committed to the Club’s activities so it was no surprise that when the decision was made to build a concession stand/restroom facility at Rotary Park, Jim became the leader, hosting planning meetings at AE and handling all of the construction coordination with the city and contractors. Between 2000-2002 the building was built, largely by Rotarians and it still looks good almost twenty years later.
 
The Club funded the building by undertaking several fund raisers and borrowing the rest so it could be done quickly. The major fund raiser was a fall banquet held annually at Pine Knoll where Jerry Mouldenhauer and his staff provided an excellent dinner followed by cash drawings, silent and regular auctions. One year it seemed like Jim, his family and their guests were constantly going up to pick up prizes, which was true—about 50% of the total. What people didn’t realize was that same group bought 60% of the tickets. The banquets were so financially successful that the Club’s debt was able to be retired in four years.
One of the many negatives of the current pandemic is that large groups may not gather under the “safe at home” order currently in place. Thus, no memorial service is planned at this time. That is most unfortunate as Jim Brey’s life should be recognized and honored. I am sure he was met at the Pearly Gates with the greeting “good job my faithful servant; an excellent life, well lived”.