By Linda Scherer
WINSTED, MN If the first week of 2011 is any indicator of the kind of year that’s ahead for George Schulenberg, it looks like it could be an eventful one.
The year started with Schulenberg and his wife, Ann, celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary, a milestone he is extremely proud of.
And on Tuesday, he will be sworn in as a Winsted City Council member, his first active role in city government.
He is looking forward to the challenge. His goal for his first year is “to be the best damn city council man I can be,” Schulenberg said.
“I want to make a difference but I want to make a difference to the people of the town itself.”
It’s the small community that attracted the Schulenbergs to Winsted seven years ago, as well as wanting to move closer to their children.
“My wife thinks I am an extrovert. I don’t know, but I really enjoy people,” Schulenberg said. “Just about everybody that I see, I can call them by their first name, and that is important to me.”
Since winning the November election, Schulenberg has been attending meetings, sitting quietly in the back of the chamber, listening to council proceedings.
From what he has observed, the mayor, council, and administrator work well together and it’s something Schulenberg considers a real asset.
“It’s one of the things that really encouraged me to run for city council,” Schulenberg said.
Always having had an interest in government, Schulenberg said the idea of running for office was something that had crossed his mind but it was for sometime in the future.
“Then, one day, I went in to pay my water bill and a young lady at city hall asked me if I had ever thought about running for city council,” Schulenberg said.
The idea stayed with him and he finally decided it was time to become a candidate for city council.
“I had nothing to lose but a $2 application fee and the time it took to fill out the form and mail it in,” Schulenberg said.
The evening of the election he sat up all night, until early in the morning, watching the election results.
“When I saw Winsted and my name up there, I thought, ‘I don’t believe this.’ So I had to wake my wife up to tell her we won,” Schulenberg said.
One of the things Schulenberg would like to focus his energy on is Winsted’s downtown. He would like to be part of a team to bring businesses to main street.
“We could offer them a package that would be very attractive financially,” Schulenberg said. “So they could open their business and know that for the first three, four, or five years they are not going to be bound by taxes and money they do not have.”
Then Schulenberg wants to see the town make the new business welcome.
“Let’s have a grand opening and have everyone in the city of Winsted stand out in the main street and cheer the guy because he is opening up a business,” Schulenberg said. “Make him welcome, because that is how I felt when I came here.”
In addition to being a council member, Schulenberg will also be the Winsted Lions Club president this year, and he is a member of the Winsted Lake Watershed Association.
More about George Schulenberg
Schulenberg has been retired for 13 years. Before retiring, he worked at API in Roseville. API is a privately-owned commercial and residential insulation business, according to Schulenberg. The company also owned Viking Sprinkler, a company that installed overhead sprinklers in commercial buildings.
He was in sales and managed the warehouse.
“I wanted to retire when I was 55, but at that time my two oldest sons were going to college and we said we would try to help them as much as possible,” he said. “So I was unable to retire until I was 62.”
Retirement for Schulenberg is not sitting in front of the television with his feet up.
He loves the outdoors, something he probably inherited from his father.
“I have great memories of my dad, who always took my brother and I hunting, and my father was an avid fisherman.”
“Winter or summer,” Schulenberg said. “In the winter, he would go out on the ice with a five-gallon pail, chisel a hole, and he would sit out there for hours.”
Schulenberg hunts and fishes with his sons and grandsons. They have been hunting in North Dakota for about 10 years and recently, they purchased a house and some property there for hunting pheasants, ducks, and geese.
Golfing is on his list of warmer weather activities. Once the golf course is ready for action, he is out there twice a week.
He enjoys bird-watching, a hobby he and Ann picked up when they lived in Brainerd for several years.
“I have feeders in my backyard and heated pools so the birds can drink,” Schulenberg said. “We sit in the family room in the morning, just watching the birds.”
He and Ann have also had the opportunity to travel. Since his retirement, they have spent time in Arizona, Florida, Hawaii, Alaska, Italy, and Mexico.
“I might add, on a shoestring budget,” Schulenberg said.
He has also started a new running routine to keep himself in shape. He goes three miles, alternating two minutes of running for one minute of walking. When the weather is bad, he runs up and down the basement stairs.
And then, there is his family.
“It’s a nice family.” Schulenberg said. “I just love them and they really keep us going.”
Schulenberg and Ann have four children:
• Mathew is married to Anne and they live in Deephaven.
• Michael is married to Linda and they live in Watertown.
• Elizabeth is married to Jerry Peterson and they live in St. Louis Park.
• William is married to Tammy and they live in Waconia.
The Schulenbergs also have 15 grandchildren.