East Aurora Advertiser

Elaine Schiltz Retires from Aurora Department of Recreation After 27 Years

For Elaine Schiltz, it began back in 1994 as a request from her sister, Donna Bodekor George, present-day director of the Aurora Senior Center, for help with some exercise and ceramics programs at the senior center, then on Oakwood Avenue where the can and bottle return is now. It ended a month ago 27 years later when Schiltz retired as the special events coordinator and recreation specialist for the town’s Department of Recreation. Well, “ended” might not be the precise term. She still speaks with the enthusiasm of one who is deeply passionate about the town, recreation, kids and senior citizens.

“And,” Schiltz said, “I’m still at the Senior Center on Tuesdays teaching my ceramics and crafts classes. I could never give that up. Some of those folks have been with me since I started 27 years ago.”

She speaks fondly of her years with the Department of Recreation.“I have had the privilege to work for this town and I loved every minute of it. I was truly blessed. I started helping Donna and gradually I took on more responsibilities once Sue Peacock (former department director) realized I could handle different aspects of the programs pretty well. By 1998, when Peggy Cooke took over, I became the special events coordinator and recreation specialist.”

Her duties covered the whole range of town-wide activities, including the summer camp at Hamlin Park. 

“That was so much fun for me, working with the young campers, but also working with the teenage counselors who were as young as 15. For many teenagers, it was their first job. I had to teach them how to have a job, how to show up, how to show up on time, how to be respectful. And they had to learn the patience and understanding it takes to spend the whole day with little kids, as well as how to deal with discipline. I still keep up with these former counselors. I get invited to parties and weddings. One couple actually met as Hamlin Day Camp counselors and now they’re about to have their third child.”

Aktion Club, the Kiwanis-sponsored club for developmentally disabled adults, holds a special place in Schiltz’s heart. 

“I love Aktion Club. I set up all the sports activities for the club—kickball, floor hockey, baseball at Community Pool. So much fun.”

The success of the Independence Day festivities is another of Schiltz’s accomplishments. 

“It can be hectic,” she recalled, “with a big organizing committee and as many as 60 marching groups for the parade, getting them in order at the staging area so the parade runs smoothly. Then there are all the activities at Hamlin, the fireworks. But when it’s over and everything has run the way we hoped, there’s a real sense of satisfaction.”

Then there were the softball leagues that play at JP Nicely Memorial West Falls Park. She was in charge of coordinating the four or five leagues, making sure the diamonds were ready and calling off games when it rained. And the Easter Egg hunt, the Red Cross babysitter course, all the summer programs for kids, the father-daughter dance, field trips, Winter Fest and the Five Alarm Chili Challenge. Until 10 years ago when the Aurora Highway Department took over, the town parks came under the Recreation Department’s supervision.

Schiltz admits that the pandemic put a damper on some of the fun parts of the job in the last year, but she was ready to back away regardless. “We [she and husband Terry] have five grandchildren now, age one to six, and they’re all local, so that keeps us busy. We have some plans to travel. I’ll still referee field hockey, and I have my ceramics classes.”

Said recreation director Chris Musshafen, “For nearly three decades Elaine Schiltz has had an incredibly positive impact on recreation in Aurora that will no doubt echo for many years to come. She continually strived to do the best for our community and children by instructing, collaborating, and facilitating activities that enriched our lives. I am honored to have worked with her and to have been a part of the sunset of her career. I wish her the best in her well-deserved retirement.”

Elaine Schiltz stepped down from her role at the Aurora Town Recreation Department after 27 years on the job.

As far as succession goes, Schiltz is confident that the string of strong recreation leaders—Cal Potwin, Sue Peacock, Curt Herrmann, Jeff ‘Train’ Transki, Cooke, Chris Musshafen, and the late Muffy Stephenson—will continue. “Meaghan Tent, who took over for me, has already been working with the department in several programs. She’ll do fine. I’ve left complete files and notes for Meaghan. She knows she can call me anytime as she gets up to speed.

“But,” she says, with a smile, “It’s only been a few weeks. It still feels like a vacation. We’ll see if I stay retired.” 

 

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