2009 Coeur Honorees

Coeur de Cuisine 2009 is pleased to honor Bob and Arlene Shuster and Family – an Escondido Family with a Heart for the Community

Bob joined Escondido Rotary in 1984, “on a wing and a prayer”. Tom Tomlinson talked Bob into piloting his plane on Rotary fly-ins. From there it was a quick flight into Rotary membership. Arlene joined Escondido Rotary in 1994, at the invitation of “Mr. Happy and Enthusiastic”, Doyle Dannenberg. Early on, she became, and still is, the club’s invocation chairperson.

Please join with us in celebrating these wonderful “unsung heroes” from Escondido. Just a small portion of their heartwarming story follows.

Arlene was born in Escondido. Her German immigrant grandfather moved his family here in 1911 when Arlene’s father, Oscar Knappe, was two years old. The family owned a tailor shop and dry cleaners at Grand Avenue and Ivy. Arlene’s mother’s ancestry dates back to the Mayflower.

Bob traces his ancestry back to the Cherokees. He was born in 1933 in Arkansas City, Kansas. Because his mother passed away only two weeks after his birth, Bob and his four siblings were divided between family and friends. Bob was adopted by his grandmother, but when Bob was just nine he was sent to a boys’ farm in Missouri because of hard times. Bob’s grandmother finally was able to sell her farm and reclaim Bob when he was thirteen. In 1948, the two joined her sister in Escondido.

Bob and Arlene Shuster became acquainted during a high school speech class in 1951. For all of those years, although their lives took different paths, they were always connected in some way.

Arlene was on the fast path to graduating from high school in 3 years and holding down her after school job at Gailey’s Photo Supply. Bob worked before school delivering the LA Times and after school as a printer’s devil at the Times Advocate. And he was “going steady” with Marjorie Fish.

Bob was drafted into the United States Army a year after he graduated from high school. He married Marjorie before shipping out to Korea. Marjorie lived with her parents, and bore their first son, Bill. While Bob was gone, Marjorie became the full-time organist at Grace Lutheran Church. Bob says he went over seas in 1953 a Congregationalist and came home a Lutheran.

Arlene’s grandparents were founders of Grace Lutheran Church, where she and her family still attend. The back row of church was reserved for families with small children, and that row is where Arlene and Bob reconnected and became friends, as did their children.

After the service, Bob worked for his father-in-law, eventually buying the business and changing the name to Shuster Oil. He was the sole driver, delivering fuel all over North County. Marjorie took phone orders at home. They added Richard and Cheryl to their family.

Meanwhile, Arlene graduated from Palomar College, distinguishing herself as President of the Associated Women’s Students, and nationally in speech and debate. She married, and once her family was complete with three children, Alan, Ayse, and Jon, she taught middle school in Poway for several years. She “retired” after selling her first magazine article. More than 300 magazine articles and eight published books followed.

Arlene founded Scribbler’s, a local writers group, taught “writing for the marketplace” as part of UCSD’s extension and through Poway’s Adult Education programs. Her dabbling in genealogy brought her to membership in the DAR. Arlene shared her interest in the stock market by forming ten ladies NAIC investment clubs in the 1960’s. Arlene admits to answering to “stock market junkie’.

In 1969, Bob’s business had grown to the point of keeping office hours. Arlene joined Shuster Oil as its office manager, retiring 35 years later. She continues to manage their rental properties.

In 1993, following the 40th radio broadcast on her latest book, she decided that an autograph party at Barnes and Noble was more fun than being stuck behind a computer. She lived alone for several years. She sought more social interaction by joining Mary Kay. She recently “retired” from her Mary Kay directorship. She cherishes the lasting friendships she’s made with clients and sister Christian directors.

Bob’s wife, Marjorie, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 1986 at the early age of 50. She passed away in 2003.

Bob thrives on church and community involvement. He has been a Grace Lutheran School Board member, Escondido Chamber of Commerce director, president of California Independent Oil Marketers, chairman of the Pacific Oil Conference, and on the board of the San Diego Farm Bureau and North County Bank. He also served on First Night Escondido and PPH Foundation boards. Bob is a pilot member and strong supporter of Angel Flight. Since 1989, Bob has served as chairman of the County of San Diego Environmental Health Advisory Board.

Bob and Arlene were married in 2005. While on their Mexican Riviera honeymoon, Bob suggested they take their families on a cruise instead of hosting a wedding reception. It became a reality in July 2005, when 25 family members – all six of their children and spouses, plus all eleven grandchildren, sailed for Alaska. The party hasn’t ended yet!

Bob’s personal passions are flying his Cessna T-210, an annual elk/deer hunting trip to Colorado, fishing and traveling, often to their Utah condo. Arlene relishes the fishing and traveling part and their card games with friends. She also enjoys helping Bob with his famous barbecues.

Bob and Arlene have joined in a commitment of sharing their faith in Jesus Christ, loving their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren to success, and caring for others. These, as well as each other, are the things that make them happiest.

Please join with the Escondido Rotary Club in celebrating this wonderful Escondido couple and their family on March 8, 2009.

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