IRONTON – Though she has slowed down considerably after 110 years, Jewell Stehlik still loves music and life.
Iron County and state officials joined Stehlik’s family and staff and residents of The Baptist Home, Arcadia Valley campus, on Oct. 23 to celebrate Jewell’s 110th birthday.
Stehlik can now claim supercentenarian status. Only one in a thousand individuals who reach age 100 reach supercentenarian status, Arcadia Valley administrator Sherri Snider explained.
Based on research she and her staff have conducted, Stehlik is Missouri’s third oldest person, the 26th oldest in the country and the 76th oldest in the world. Snider is in the process of registering Stehlik as a supercentenarian with the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California at Los Angeles.
Stehlik has lived in three centuries. A native of Cave Springs, Kan., she was born on Oct. 25, 1899, to Franklin and Irene McColloch Jones. Her father died in a train accident when Jewell was young, and she lost a half-brother in World War I.
She gave her life to Christ in 1918 and married William Stehlik on April 11, 1925. A stenographer, she worked for a railroad, a law office and a real estate firm. She registered men for the draft in World War I.
Jewell has loved music since a child, learning to play a pump organ at 5 years old. She received her first mandolin in the 1930s. At 99, she purchased her fifth mandolin and took lessons to refresh her skills.
An orchestra member at one time, Stehlik also played the piano, accordion, electric keyboard and harmonica. She still plays the harmonica. After her husband retired in 1962, they moved to Camdenton and joined First Baptist Church there. She became part of the Mell-O-Dees, a 12-member musical group that traveled the state, playing at political rallies, nursing homes and other venues, including the state fair.
Jewell moved into the Home at Arcadia Valley on Oct. 23, 1996, two days before her 97th birthday.
In a conversation with TBH director of development and communications Jim Nelson on her 106th birthday, Jewell admitted her secret to longevity. “I’m not a worrier. If I can’t fix it, God will take care of it. And I had a good husband of 54 years,” she said.
In honor of Stehlik’s birthday, Willard Scott featured her on his birthday segment of the “Today Show” on Oct. 14, and the Fredericktown Black Cats High School Band played at the Home’s celebration.
Iron County associate commissioner Bradford V.S. Johnson presented a proclamation from commissioners to declare Oct. 25 as Jewell Stehlik Day in the county. She also received a proclamation from Gov. Jay Nixon and birthday greetings from President Obama.