Award a fitting tribute to Sultan’s leading light

SULTAN — The legacy of giving continues.

Before dying in a U.S. 2 crash on May 2, Genevieve Jelinek, 65, spent countless hours helping other people in Sultan. At her funeral, about 300 people celebrated her community spirit and vowed to do their part to improve Sultan.

Now, Early Words Toastmasters, a Sultan group that had Jelinek as a member, has created a new award to honor her life. The award, called Inspirational Toastmaster of the Year, is being presented to the Jelinek family at a community award ceremony today at Sultan High School.

The 10th annual event, which the Sky Valley Chamber of Commerce played host to, also honors other people who contributed to the community in 2007.

Toastmasters and the city also plan to plant a tree in honor of Jelinek near the city’s western entrance sign on Feb. 23.

“My family is just thrilled,” said Clyde Jelinek, who was married to Genevieve Jelinek for nearly 49 years. “We are very pleased she’s recognized like this by the community. It’s very gratifying.”

The tree is expected to be a pink dogwood.

“One of my wife’s favorite trees,” Clyde Jelinek said, adding that the couple used to have a pink dogwood in their back yard.

A pink dogwood grows slowly and bears beautiful pink flowers in spring, Mayor Carolyn Eslick said.

“It just makes sense to use that tree for Genevieve because she lit up the room when she walked in,” Eslick said. “She was always involved in the community.”

Jelinek was involved in so many activities that her friends have a hard time citing examples of her achievements.

Genevieve Jelinek was one of the first female volunteer firefighters in Sultan. She was a board member of the local chamber of commerce. She was a nurse at Valley General Hospital in Monroe and tended many residents. She rooted for the Sultan High School soccer team for years and donated gears for players.

Jelinek, who lived near the city’s police department, volunteered to do some clerical work, former Police Chief Fred Walser said. She would bring cinnamon rolls to cheer up police officers as well.

The day she was killed in a head-on collision on U.S. 2 east of Monroe, Jelinek talked about the dangerous, congested highway, Walser said.

“She wanted to join the (U.S. 2) Safety Coalition,” he said.

Donna Murphy, the city’s grants and economic development coordinator, said she had known Jelinek for about 30 years. Jelinek loved Sultan. When the city celebrated its centennial birthday in 2005, she baked cakes for the celebration.

“All she wanted to do was to give and give and give,” Murphy said.

Reporter Yoshiaki Nohara: 425-339-3029 or ynohara@heraldnet.com.

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