FAIRMONT– A familiar face greets children and parents alike every morning as they step into Lakeview Methodist Health Care Center on their way to Building Blocks Learning Center, which is located inside the facility. Jean Schultz, lovingly referred to as “Grandma Jeannie” can be found at the entrance every morning around 6:30 a.m. and every afternoon around 4 p.m. About 50 children go to Building Blocks and grandma Jeannie makes it her mission to greet each one every morning and make sure they have a good day. However it may just be Jeannie herself who looks forward to this ritual the most.

“I love doing it. I’m down here every morning at 6:30 and it’s a terrific way to start my day,” Jeannie said.

Jeannie remarked how each of the little kids have their own personality. While she doesn’t remember all of the 50 names, she knows that some like to give her a big hug, some give her a peck on the cheek, some crawl up on her lap and some settle for a high five. Jeannie, who will be 92 next week, has been living in Lakeview for a little less than two years. She moved in shortly after breaking her hip in 2017 and has been in a wheelchair ever since.

“I’m not in any pain, I’m not sick. I just can’t walk,” Jeannie explained lightheartedly.

Even though she’s not able to walk, Jeannie still gets around. She’s the minister of visitation at her church, St. John United Church of Christ. Jeannie has held the position for 20 years. She uses Royalty Rides to get to and from church every Sunday.

“I send all of the cards and make all of the phone calls. I love doing it because I love writing out the cards, probably because I have the gift of gab,” Jeannie laughed.

Jeannie has a few classmates still in Fairmont and they get together the third Friday of every month for lunch. Jeannie grew up the youngest of six children. She shared that she had a bit of a rough upbringing and spent some time living with different foster families.

“I’ve had a very interesting life,” Jeannie reflected.

Jeannie spent a number of her teen years living in California and there she worked riveting B17s. She ended up attending six different high schools before graduating from Fairmont in 1945. She married her husband, Don, in 1946. She worked for Cavers Realty for 20 years. She and her husband also owned The Grey Goose in Fairmont for 20 years. The couple had three children, a son who now lives in Texas and two daughters in the twin cities. Jeannie also has five grandchildren and 8 great-grandchildren. Jeannie and her husband also fostered a number of children over the years, some of whom Jeannie is still in touch with. Jeannie has always loved children and gets a kick out of seeing the Building Blocks kids every day at Lakeview.

“What an asset to this facility,” Jeannie remarked on Building Blocks.

In addition to writing cards for members of her church, Jeannie gets around to several of the activities that Lakeview offers including playing bingo during the day.

“I don’t play much bingo at night because I get up early. I want to be down here at 6:30 in the morning to greet those kids,” Jeannie explained.

It’s not just the kids that Jeannie greets. The parents, who Jeannie calls “mommies and daddies,” converse with her every day when they drop their children off.

“She’s a big part of the day. She sees them in every morning and sees them out every afternoon,” said Chad Brusky, a father of two children at Building Blocks. As Jeannie wrote in a letter for her church bulletin about her experience with the children at Lakeview, “Who would have guessed that by moving to Lakeview Methodist Health Center, that I would also win the jackpot?”

About the Author

Brooke Wohlrabe
Staff Writer