A real (estate) passion: Mom, 90, and daughter still biz partners
BY JAIME ANGIO Correspondent February 1, 2012 2:58PM
Mother-and-daughter real estate team Betty Dunn (seated) and Judy Niemann said they enjoy working together. | Jaime Angio~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 3, 2012 8:25AM
Betty Dunn’s vision started with one sign in the front yard of a 160-acre farm in New Lenox.
It let folks know she was open for business as a real estate broker.
That was 1959. Her vision didn’t just turn into a reality, but a way of life that continues and was passed down to her daughter, as well.
Dunn, 90, and her daughter Judy Niemann operate Dunn & Niemann Real Estate in New Lenox. Dunn still holds open houses and helps with advertising and public relations, and their business was honored last week with the 2012 Lifetime Chamber Award from the New Lenox Chamber of Commerce. A ceremony was held at the American Legion Post No. 1977 in New Lenox.
“I don’t think I’ll get out of real estate ever,” Dunn said.
New Lenox Mayor Tim Baldermann and state Rep. Renee Kosel (R-New Lenox) presented mother and daughter with the award in recognition of their contributions to the chamber over the past 50 years of their membership. Dunn has been a member of the chamber since 1961, and Niemann since 1968. This award also grants them honorary membership in the chamber for life.
Dunn still lives on the 160-acre farm on Francis Road. It seems fitting, as Niemann sees her mother as a pioneer of sorts. She takes great pride in the fact that Dunn started in real estate during an era when many women didn’t work outside the home.
“She started out when real estate was really different and slow, and she was the first woman in New Lenox to be in real estate, so I was thrilled for her. I was thrilled she was going to be honored with her time that she belonged to the chamber,” Niemann said.
Niemann credits her mother for her own love of the real estate business.
“I’ve been in real estate for about 45 years, and I would’ve never been involved had it not been for Betty,” she said.
Niemann was born and raised on the farm and has stayed true to her New Lenox roots despite moving to Mokena. In fact, in 2009, Niemann was honored as New Lenox’s Citizen of the Year. The duo also are charter members of the Lincoln-Way Area Business Women’s Organization, and they strengthened their village roots last year when Dunn & Niemann Real Estate celebrated the grand opening of their new location at 132 E. Francis Road.
All along, mother and daughter have enjoyed working side by side.
“We just get along fine; we’ve always gotten along through our lives,” Dunn said.
“We both have our opinions and we’ll voice our opinion, and it’s over,” Niemann said. “At the office, I always call her ‘Betty,’ because I call her ‘Mom’ and people turn their heads. But we’ve always been really good friends and have a lot of fun together.”