SOLON– Jean Stinocher had no clue how to bake a kolache when she first moved to Solon– but if anyone knows a thing about kolaches, they know the Czech pastry is difficult to make just right on the first try.
“The first ones were hockey pucks,” Jean said with a grin. “But I’ve got it mastered and I make pretty damn good ones right now.”
“And pies,” barked her husband, Bob Stinocher, who said he stashes a slice away before others eat the rest. “If you don’t believe it just ask some guys at the Legion.”
Jean’s mastering of baking kolaches is analogous to her and Bob’s service as citizens in the surrounding Solon community, and they are the recipients of the 2013 Solon Senior of the Year award. The couple was surprised when Senior Advocate president Sandy Hanson phoned them one evening to explain the news.
“There’s other people that probably deserve it as much as we do,” Bob said, swatting a fly away from the brim of his cap.
Perhaps the award is a sign of gratitude for all the community work they’ve done over the years, or maybe it’s a gesture of honor towards two true patrons to Solon. Whatever it is, the Stinochers never expected a thing in return.
“I’m not one to get the glory,” Bob said. “I was told to come here, but as far as gettin’ and tootin’ your horn– that ain’t it for me.”
He said Hanson explained that they were chosen specifically, which still didn’t add up in his mind. Bob wants to know why they were chosen, but people in Solon understand. The Stinochers have been benefactors to the Solon community since around the time the two married 60 years ago.
Still, despite his genuine humility, Bob is thankful. “I enjoy everything I get,” Bob said.
“Me too,” Jean added promptly.
When the couple moved to the area around 1953, they were young and unaware of the future impact they would have on the community. They lived on a mud road in a home with no electricity, a place known as Horseshoe Bend. In 1956, they moved to where they live now.
“I didn’t get involved in Solon activities right away,” Jean said. But when she did, it was major.
From 1975 until 2012, Jean served 15 separate terms as president of the American Legion Auxiliary in Solon. She’s worked at the feed mill, farmed the fields while Bob was at his second job, and raised three children, which some might say is a job of its own. Bob has been a fixture in Solon as well, and has been dedicated to the legion along with his wife. He is one of the founding committee members of Solon Beef Days, worked diligently in construction for 30 years, and delivered Santa Claus around town each Christmas for 40 years.
Today, the couple still makes an impact, and faithfully volunteers with the community. Year in and year out, Robert and Jean Stinocher are there to make sure that, each third weekend in scorching July, Beef Days goes on without a hitch. For 43 years running, they’ve done just that.
“It’s a good source to give money to the community,” Bob said, citing delicious grilled meats, free-flowing beer, and open-air music. “[Beef Days] has made Solon,” he added.
Jean, 79, remembers the earliest Solon Beef Days, and still owns the original wooden sign that pictures a large steak. Each year she cooks her famous vinegar burgers, which leave the mouth watering after only hearing the description. Bob, 86, said he’s been on the Beef Days Committee since it started– he’s been trying to retire since he turned 80 but they see him as an indispensible piece to the success of Beef Days.
“They had a nice little birthday cake there, and they said okay… You gotta go ‘til you’re 90,” Bob said. “I said I don’t know if I’ll be around here at 90 but I’m getting pretty close.”