GREENVILLE– Gene Schultz, a resident of the Brethren Retirement Community (BRC) in Greenville learned back in September that he would be getting honored for being a 70-year member of the Grand Masonic Lodge.
He hadn’t heard much more until he called recently, and about two weeks ago, the Grand Master of Ohio and Grand Secretary of Ohio came to the local facility, where Schultz has resided the past 7 1/2 years, and presented him with a certificate and pin. His son, Steve, was also there and did the pinning.
Born Sept. 14, 1928, the 93-year-old Schultz is a native of Greenville.
“I started in the Blue Lodge,” he said. “You had to be 21 to get in. Then, I was in the Scottish Rite before I became a Shriner almost 50 years ago.”
Schultz said he had to retire from Van Leer Container in Greenville for medical reasons in 2011.
“I had to find something to do, so I volunteered for the Shriners, transferring youth up to the age of 21 for health care at Burns units and did that for 36 years. I had drivers under me and two went each time a transfer was made.”
“He was also the supervisor of 35 drivers,” said Melissa Harter, supervisor of activities and coordinator of volunteers at BRC. “The amount of time that he volunteered was the equivalent of working full-time for three years and six days. When Gene shares about his experiences, he follows story after story with, ‘Those kids were such a blessing to me!’ Gene was and continues to be a blessing to everyone he meets.”
Schultz explained that whenever he was to make a transfer, he checked on the residence ahead of time to make sure he would get to the right address on appointment day.
He has quite a few memorable trips he made to get these young people help for their injuries.
“There was a one-week-old baby at Cincinnati Burns with a cleft palate; a child whose parents abused him; a nine-month-old girl who was choked so bad, but lived through it; and a 2 1/2-year-old girl burned from the waist down by her mother after being put in two feet of hot, salty water because she wouldn’t potty train. I picked up an 18-year-old boy at the burns hospital who was wrapped like a mummy. I remember a pair of twins we transferred. I saw a 10-year-old Venezuelan boy in the hospital who I helped get the care. He had ashes about his hands which were burned off; and one boy got his toes cut off by a mower driven by his brother.”
His transferrals had him traveling as far as Lima, northern Indiana, Chicago, to Pennsylvania, St. Louis, as well as the Cincinnati Burns and Shriners Hospital.
“I drove more than 200,000 miles,” he said.
Those retiring when he did from the Shrine transfers were Bob Anthony, who is 95; Tom Whitton, who is 98; and the late John Harman.
“No one wanted to do it,” Schultz said. “You had to be strong for that kind of work with the Shriners.”
He went on to explain that these trips never cost the families of the children anything.
“And, we made sure they had something to eat,” he added.
His wife, the former Betty Olendorf, died Oct. 19, 2020, after being married almost 69 1/2 years. They are the parents of three children, Steve and Jeannie Anderson, both of the Greenville area, and Vicki Carrol of London, Ohio. There are eight grandchildren and 20 great-grandchildren.
Schultz likes to keep active so he attends the many activities offered at BRC, including bingo. He especially likes the new addition, Second And Main, which features such activities as games, a fitness gym and the This ‘N- That Shop.
“I feel good,” he said. “I can walk a little but I’m usually on my scooter. Everybody is good to me. Some call me ‘Dad.’ I don’t sit around.”
Schultz, who underwent four bypasses in 2008, has even been able to attend the Great Darke County Fair across the street from his current residence.
Just as he was dedicated to the Shriners, he was just as active in his church, the Stelvideo Christian Church, where he was a moderator for 20 years and a deacon for 50 years. He attended there until last year, but he receives church reports regularly.
“They recognized me in October as the oldest member when they celebrated the church’s 100th anniversary,” he said. “I have been there for 71 years.”