A woman who remains an active volunteer at age 92 and a grocery store manager who helped start a community kitchen have been recognized as the Lompoc Valley’s top citizens of the year.
Marie Schlueter was named Woman of the Year while Jules Hain was named Man of the Year during the Lompoc Valley Chamber of Commerce’s annual awards banquet Wednesday night in Vandenberg Village.
“Very worthy winners and a great testament to all they've done for our community for many years,” Chamber of Commerce CEO/President Ken Ostini said. “As they both stated at the presentation, it’s about their love for the Lompoc Valley and helping make it a better place to live.”
Additionally, Bumatay Jewelers was given the 2014 Small Business Excellence Award, and Heather Bedford was recognized as the chamber's Volunteer of the Year.
Schlueter remains an active docent at La Purisima Mission, serves as the outreach chairwoman conducting tours for local and visiting school children, cares for the Mission animals, and provides outreach for local schools, parades and special communitywide events.
In fact, the morning after receiving her award, Schlueter was at the Mission caring for the animals.
She also is an active docent at the Lompoc Museum, where she has served for more than 20 years, “happily training new docents, leading children’s tours, sharing knowledge of the Chumash Indians and supporting special events and filling in wherever needed and accepting any challenge presented to her,” chamber officials noted.
Schlueter has lived in Lompoc for more than 30 years and has been active in her church in several roles, including as deacon, usher, greets and more.
She is a volunteer at the Lompoc Valley Medical Center, working two hours a week and supporting various events to raise money for hospital foundation.
Schlueter earned her private pilot’s license and worked at Douglas Aircraft before World War II and married Harry, her husband of 73 years, one week before the war.
She was a ski patrol member until age 65 and gave up skiing at age 80. She still golfs — when she isn’t busy volunteering for community projects.
She and her husband have two daughters, six grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
The Man of Year has deep roots in the Lompoc Valley, having been born and grown up there.
Hain began working at the Central Coast-based Williams Bros. Market at age 18 as a box boy and climbed the career ladder to eventually be promoted to store manager of Lompoc’s Vons, the successor to Williams Bros.
Chamber officials noted that Hain “over the years has supported with compassion and without fanfare several dozen local businesses, nonprofits, schools, churches, families and children in need and community-wide special events through donation of foodstuffs, merchandise manpower and funds.”
Specifically, Hain assisted with the establishment of the La Purisima Community Kitchen and served food to the homeless alongside his family. He continues to support the program with donations of food.
The store manager has assisted in apprehending shoplifters “who he counseled and ultimately employed at this store,” chamber officials noted.
Hain, who provides his personal time and energy to help local events, “is highly respected throughout the community for his compassionate support for those who are less fortunate and the organizations that serve them,” according to the resolution recognizing him.
He is a husband, father and grandfather, chamber officials said.
Also at the dinner, the city’s Economic Development Committee issued its first Economic Vitality Award to recognize local businesses launching Lompoc into the 21st century. Monthly EVA winners have been named since March, and the committee presented D’Vine Wine Bar and Bistro the first of what the members intend to be an annual award.