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Oldest Adventist lives for family, friends

by JOSA SNOW
Staff Reporter | June 27, 2023 1:09 AM

At 110, Coeur d'Alene resident Hazel Schultz is the oldest woman nationwide in the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

That's according to some family-funded research and local Area Agency on Aging ombudsman Roseanna Lewis.

“Everybody’s been so good,” Schultz said.

Schultz was born Jan. 10, 1913, according to her last driver's license, which she had until she was 100.

She may be the oldest person in Kootenai County.

A spunky creature of habit, Schultz meets her daughter, Cheryl Pegel, once a month for pedicures, for hair appointments on Fridays and for church on Saturdays.

She likes to nibble a few pieces of Hershey’s chocolate each day and loves bright red, leopard prints and sitting in the sun.

Schultz’s secret to a long and happy life is eating well, enjoying the chocolate and staying active, but she gives most of the credit to a higher authority.

"The good Lord has decided to keep me here a little longer," Schultz said.

Her longevity could also be attributed to her strong relationships.

“I think everybody is my friend,” Schultz said.

Nearly 100 friends and family celebrated her 110th birthday party, said her friend, George Ciccone.

Ciccone manages and owns the Country Comfort Residential Care and Assisted Living facility, where she’s lived for the last year. The two often chat on the patio while Schultz bathes in the sun.

“I could spend hours with her. I do,” Ciccone said.

Ciccone talks to each of his nine residents but spends a little extra time with Schultz.

“I like him,” Schultz said. “He’s my friend.”

Ciccone likes to keep track of some of her favorite things and honor that in her home.

“I think you’re really centered on your religious beliefs,” Ciccone told Schultz, and she agreed. “She loves Tennessee Ernie Ford. She grew up listening to Ernie Ford.”

Ciccone plays that and religious music occasionally to watch Schultz light up. Just talking about the singer makes her beam a bit.

Schultz's favorite things are visiting her daughter in Post Falls, her son, Doug Schultz, in California, or Walla Walla tomato sandwiches with onion.

She’s lived through the world wars and other historic events, but what she remembers most is family.

She does recall the tornado that swept away the family farm when she was 10, causing her family to move from their home in Canada south to the U.S. Or a bit about how Joe DiMaggio’s nephew used to do her hair when she visited California. And she’s a big baseball fan.

But she beams with pride talking about her son Doug, the minister, her son, Gary Schultz, who followed the family business before he died of Crohn’s disease and her daughter.

Her husband, Herbert Schultz, who died when he was in his 60s, managed a retirement center, and son Gary Schultz owned and ran a nursing home.

When Hazel Schultz went away to boarding school, she learned to cook in a church medical facility, before cooking for nursing homes. Later, she worked in hospitals before doing administrative work in senior centers.

“Her spirit is good,” said Schultz’s nephew-in-law Ron Hessel, who is also her pastor at Northwest Ministries in Post Falls. “Her husband was a real curmudgeon and she was always a bright spot.”

Schultz commends her friend Ciccone on how well he manages his facility. Ciccone likes that she doesn’t complain about his cooking.

“Thank God she’s not a food critic,” he said.

Ciccone helped her take her sweater off as the sun got a bit too hot.

“I don’t know how much longer the good Lord’s gonna keep me,” Schultz said.

Ciccone hopes it’ll be a long time.

“Health-wise, she’s better than a lot of other people that are younger than she is,” he said.

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JOSA SNOW/Press

Hazel Schultz is the oldest female member of the Seventh Day Adventists at 110.

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JOSA SNOW/Press

Hazel Schultz, 110, keeps a photo on her wall from her youth, next to a picture of her husband Herbert Schultz.