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Solon Senior of the Year: Judy Shulista

Decades of helping out wherever needed honored by Advocates

SOLON Judy Shulista is always willing to lend a hand.
Whether it was counting the weekly collection at St. Mary Catholic Church or preparing stuffing for a Solon American Legion Auxiliary turkey dinner, Shulista could be counted on for decades as a happy worker bee.
Those contributions were recognized by Solon Senior Advocates, which named Shulista Senior of the Year for 2020.
Advocates President Larry Meister caught Shulista by surprise when he called with the news.
I didnt have a clue why he was calling, she said. I tried to talk him out of it because I dont feel I deserve this.
Shulista said while she was active in the community for a long time, she recently tapered off some of her long-standing jobs.
And he told me thats what everybody tells him and theres no way I can get out of it, she added.
The Advocates started the recognition program in 2006 to highlight the contributions of older residents who have given of themselves in service to the community through volunteerism, enhanced the well-being of others or someone always ready to assist or provide help when needed. The first recipient was Jack Neuzil. Other recipients include Wayne Croy, Milt Hunt, Pat Ikan, Marie Kroul, Bev Noska, Elaine Reynolds, Anna McAtee, Jean and Bob Stinocher, Fred Bark, Rita Brannaman, Don Erusha, Marv Stastny, Larry and Marcy Olson, Jeanne Erhart, Phyllis Fiala, Dave Frisbie, Duane McAtee and Sandy Hanson.
Shulistas award was announced during the May 6 virtual Solon City Council meeting, accompanied by a proclamation of Older Americans Month by Mayor Steve Stange.
There will be no public reception as with previous recipients, but Shulistas just fine with that, and is happy she didnt have to attend the council meeting.
Shes also openly suspicious of her son Scotts nomination letter, which she said is likely biased.
But theres no denying the long list of volunteer activities shes been involved in over the years.
A native of Solon, Judy Meyer graduated with the high school Class of 1961, where she met future husband Jim Shulista. Together they raised three sons, Scott, of Solon; Darin, of Dubuque; and Kurt, of Tipton.
She spent 37 years at Square D. in Cedar Rapids (now Schneider Electric), serving as a lead for several different production lines in the factory. For over a decade, her crew installed special devices into electrical breakers, tested them, packed them and shipped them out.
When it was needed or available, she would work seven days a week, but still had a little bit of a social life and kept up at home, too.
After a couple of years leading a different line for a breaker added from the French side of the business after Schneider bought Square D, the company moved the production to Columbia, Mo., and Shulista went down there to assist with six weeks of training.
She and a supervisor would be gone all week, and while it was fun for a couple of weeks, it got to be long by the end.
Man, we worked long days, she recalled. Wed work 12-14 hours down there.
She retired from the company in 2005 after most production moved out of Cedar Rapids.
She attributes her work ethic to her grandparents, Matt and Tillie Meyer, who she spent a lot of time with growing up, and it apparently spilled over into her volunteer life.
Even though I was 62, I was still going pretty strong, and I think that it just took me a while to slow down after working that fast and that much, she observed.
Shulista is a longtime active member of Solon American Legion Auxiliary and St. Mary Catholic Church, and has been involved in school activities and Beef Days for years and years and years.
I just like to work, I guess, she said. I think my grandparents taught me that.
She joined the Legion Auxiliary in 1971, closing in on 50 years as a member. During that time, she served as the organizations treasurer for 21 years and spent the same amount of time on the groups Beef Days Planning Committee, according to Auxiliary President Jean Stinocher. Shulista volunteered for the Auxiliarys turkey and spaghetti suppers and provided homemade desserts for the Legions Lenten fish fries annually for years.
I loved the kitchen part of it and working in the kitchen, Shulista noted. She likes to bake, so she was always good for cakes or bars for the Legion or pies for the funeral dinners at St. Mary.
I like doing that for families, she said of the dinners. If you dont have that gathering afterward, theres just an empty feeling, I think. Its kind of a closure for everybody to get together and visit a little.
At St. Mary, Shulista has counted collections for years but has served as lector, communion distributor and sacristan, as well laundering the linens from the altar once a week and working in the church gardens. She was also the hall manager for three years.
She also maintained a long involvement in the Solon Community School District. Jim has spent over three decades as a bus driver, and when their grandson Brandon was playing baseball, she began baking chocolate chip cookies for away games, something she continued through last season.
Ive made a lot of friends over the years with those, too, she said of the cookies.
For two decades, she also kept the scorebook for the boys junior varsity basketball team.
Jim Krob was always the varsity guy, but I did the JV, she noted. It was good for my brain.
For about a quarter century, she and Jim worked the kitchen and the Auxiliarys food stand for Beef Days for five hours on Saturday mornings.
We always missed the parade because we were always getting the stand ready, she said. Everybody would comment about how nice the parade was, and we didnt know anything about it, so last year, we watched the parade and it is very nice. We really enjoyed it.
At age 77, she allowed herself to step away from many of her volunteer activities in the last year or so, although shes still very active in the church.
She thanked the community for the honor.
Ive made a lot of friends over the years with all the activities Ive been in, she said. Its very humbling to be chosen. I dont feel that I really did that much to deserve it.