By Becky Cook

How many couples do you know who reach the occasion of their 70th wedding anniversary, or even more are still able to participate in any celebration to be had? When the date October 18, 2017 drew near, some folks noticed that Tom and Jean Pawelko’s anniversary was at least an occasion worthy of notice. Better yet it was considered a milestone event calling for real celebration!!

Right off the bat, party planners set in motion the preparation of a memory album: photos, notes, cards, and other memorabilia. In the years our lives intersected with Tom’s and Jean’s we each have our own treasured anecdotal records of fun experiences, shared labor, mostly happy, some sad. Tom used his construction skills to build all sorts of projects, like beautiful shelving, bird houses, even yard signs. Jean gave huge amounts of volunteer hours with a variety of resort hospitality activities. When fire (and water) did extensive damage to Fairfield Mountains Chapel, including stored music, The Pawelkos were right in the midst of the clothesline drying/saving of many individual pieces of music hung with clothespins on “lines“ strung across the choir room. It would take many pages full to tell you of all the ways this couple has contributed to this community and entered our hearts. However I would predict that the most unique facet is their life long and HUGE identity with the world of Disney, especially Mickey and Minnie, figurines and a limitless collection of Disney artifacts and valuable keepsakes.

In the spring of 2002, our granddaughters were visiting us. They took advantage of the invitation from The “Mickey Mouse Lady” to visit and have a tour of her Mickey Mouse House. Sarah was ten the time and was totally enthralled. When she went home to Kentucky she wrote a paper for class describing her experience. [She is now 25, almost three years out of college, working as a pediatric nurse at Norton Children’s Hospital in Louisville, KY.] She has given permission for me to share a couple of edited excerpts from her childhood piece:

“Miss Jean has been collecting Disney figurines for 30+ years and has tons of stuff you wouldn’t believe it. I forgot, she also has big stuffed animals and wood carved things of Mickey Mouse It is so cool!!! While we were there she gave my sister and me each a bar of soap with Mickey on it out of her collection!!!! Can you believe that? I am going to save it forever because it is so special. She is a very nice lady. She even has a sewing kit of Mickey Mouse in her living room. I thought it was very neat that I got to go. She also has a toaster that prints Mickey’s face on the side of your toast and plays music.

Well, this is my story of getting to see wonderful things from somebody who really cares about her collection but is going to have to sell some in a few years because she is getting older.”