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Ed Stadelman: Rotarian and volunteer extraordinaire

Hometown Hero 2011

When something needs doing, says Floralee Stadelman, her husband Ed is usually the one to do it.

Especially if it's a volunteer job involving Noon Rotary or St. Anthony's Catholic Church in Forest Grove, two organizations Ed has served for decades.

'He likes to socialize, so if there's a job to be done, Ed will say 'I'll do it,' and I'll say, 'Put your hand down,'' Floralee noted with a smile. She's protective over Ed, who admitted he tends to say yes much more than he says no.

A Rotarian since 1980, Ed has volunteered for one group or another at least five days a week since he retired from Stadelman Industries, a storage shed and deck-building company he created, in 1997.

The 71-year-old former farmer has been chairman of the Rotary Steak Feed for seven years and the annual Corn Roast committee for a decade. Ed also helps coordinate the food service at Forest Grove Concours d'Elegance and makes sure the Rotary Garden, sited near the town's large commemorative flag, always looks ship-shape.

He enjoys being a Rotarian because 'it's about commitment,' Ed said. 'It's also about truth, about being honest in your dealings with others,' he added.

The Stadelmans, who've lived on Nichols Lane for more than 30 years, raised their son, Steven, and their daughter, Janet, with those values by modeling community service.

Retirement, he says, can be a rewarding, and active, chapter in a person's life. 'You don't have to be a couch potato,' he said. 'Get off your duff and do something.'

During the winter, they'd often travel to Yuma, Ariz., but even there, Ed's penchant for Rotary projects didn't go on vacation. One year he built a playground in San Luis, Mexico, for school children who previously had nothing more than an old tire to entertain them during breaks from class. 'That was a fun project,' he said. 'Those kids really appreciated it.'

Each Wednesday, he makes the scene at lunch meetings for the local Rotary group, notching a perfect attendance record over more than 30 years.

'I've never missed a meeting, and I've really enjoyed getting to know all the people at Rotary,' said Ed. 'I count them as my friends, and that's something special.'

Even though Rotarians have always been in Ed's corner, they've been particularly attentive over the past few months.

In July, while tending to the flowers in the Rotary garden, Ed started to 'feel funny' and called Floralee, who had just left after delivering some plants. 'He said, 'I don't want to worry you, but I think I'm having a stroke,'' she recalled. Alarmed, Floralee drove back to the garden, but Ed wasn't there. She found him at home in their driveway, leaning against his truck.

'I was so confused,' said Ed, who, after suffering a seizure, was taken by ambulance to a local emergency room. On July 25, he had surgery to remove a brain tumor. 'They got 90 percent of it, but it's a very aggressive, fast-growing cancer,' said Floralee.

Despite his travails, Ed met with Forest Grove Police to organize July's National Night Out event and hang banners to make sure the public knew about it. He had to miss the tractor pull in Banks last month, but aims to work the Corn Roast next weekend.

'I'm trying to deal with it,' Ed said of his uncertain future. 'One of the best things I can say about Rotary is the way my friends have responded. I had to give up my drivers license because I had the seizure, and people have been lining up to offer me rides to the weekly meetings.'

Friends like Tom BeLusko, who, along with Bob Richards and Jim Cain, helped organize a 'petition drive' to get Ed nominated as a Hometown Hero.

'With a guy like Ed, what he does is so much behind the scenes,' said BeLusko, a Rotarian. 'If someone else didn't bring attention to it, you wouldn't know. If a light needs changing or a roof needs fixing, Ed's there.'

BeLusko described Ed as a 'rock-solid individual' who can always be counted on to lend a helping hand. Close to 200 people signed the 'petition,' overwhelming evidence of Ed's influence on their lives.

Becky Pettit of St. Anthony's parish said Ed has been 'a main staple at all our fundraisers, from delivering Floralee's pies for the bazaar to auctioning himself off as a handyman.'

Food hasn't been a stranger in Ed's volunteer efforts. He and Floralee have traveled to Ed's sister's house in George, Wash., on the Fourth of July for the past 10 years to help make a huge cherry pie for the community celebration there.

Ed bakes the crust for an 8-foot pie in several convection ovens at a nearby school, while Floralee dives into the task of making the filling.

Whether the task requires a measuring cup or a measuring tape, Ed doesn't intend to let health issues stand in the way of his convictions, which include an active lifestyle steeped in service to the community he loves.

'Volunteering for me is a big thing - it keeps me active,' he said. 'I can't just sit. That would drive me nuts.'

By taking 'one day at a time and doing the best I can,' Ed said, he'll be fulfilling his personal desire to help others.

Once he's back on his feet after 21 days of chemo and five weeks of radiation, Ed plans to resume his regular schedule, which he summed up in six words.

'I've got more volunteering to do,' he said.