Skalicky receives Jaycees leadership honor

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 22, 2002

Lonnie Skalicky is one of two living Minnesota Jaycees legends.

Skalicky and Jerry Hemstad, of Bemidji, were the only Jaycees inducted into the Minnesota Jaycees Hall of Leadership May 11.

What made the award doubly pleasurable for Skalicky was the presenter, his son, Aaron Skalicky.

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"I was nervous," Aaron said. "When they told me the night before that he would receive the honor, I had to keep it a surprise. I didn't sleep that night and at the luncheon I really didn't have a prepared speech so I decided to wing it.

"I was honored to present the award and it made me proud to see dad accept it."

Aaron works for his father, Lonnie, owner of Sterling Real Estate and Skalicky Appraisals in the Sterling Shopping Center, Austin.

Aaron is a member of the Austin Jaycees chapter and, like his

father, looking to the organization to help him develop his full potential.

Lonnie said the Jaycees offers life-time skills.

"Of course, you meet so many people and develop friendships through the Jaycees that last a lifetime," said Lonnie, "but I've also learned lifetime skills such as leadership and time management that continue to help me today."

Skalicky graduated from Blooming Prairie High School and then-Austin Technical College before embarking on a career in business.

He joined the Austin Jaycees in 1976. He and his wife, Bev, owner/operator of the Sterling Cafe, have two children, Aaron and Anne, who works at Sterling State Bank and has a son, Joey, 8.

He joined other organizations through the years, but the Jaycees have been a favorite.

"There is no organization like the Jaycees," Skalicky said, "Over the years, I have looked, scouted and have not been able to even come close."

His regular membership in the Jaycees ended in 1992, but not before he carved a niche for himself as the embodiment of the men and women who practice the Jaycees' creed of service to humanity.

The experience changed Skalicky for the better, he said.

As a candidate for national Jaycees vice president, the former "shy guy " spoke to crowds

of 25,000 at the national convention.

As Minnesota's state Jaycees president, he directed the efforts of chapters throughout the state.

As a member of the Austin chapter, he filled sandboxes with other members for a community service project.

He helped start the chapter's Project With A Hart for senior citizens, recruited members with the Plus One project, earned dozens of awards, held every office and served as an ambassador for the Jaycees wherever he went in life.

He met President George Bush, but remembers aspiring to be like early Jaycees chapter presidents, including District Judge Fred Wellmann and Burt Plehal.

"I remember when I would go to the state conventions and see all the chapters being honored," he said. "I always wanted Austin to be recognized as one of the state's best."

In his Jaycees tenure, Skalicky has seen the state membership fall from 13,700 to 5,500.

He praises chapter president, Frank Soucek for his efforts to grow the organization.

He encourages his son, Aaron, and other Jaycees stalwarts to help the local chapter "put Austin back on the pedestal where it belongs."

Ten years after he grew too old to remain a member of the organization, the Minnesota Jaycees wouldn't have it any other way but to make Lonnie Skalicky an inductee into their new Hall of Leadership.

Lee Bonorden can be reached at 434-2232 or by e-mail at