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Solda celebrates 100th birthday today

NORWAY SENIOR CENTER hosted its monthly birthday party Thursday to celebrate patrons with birthdays in May. From left, guests of honor were Carol Kimichik, Gelindo “Geno” Solda, who turns 100 today, Charles Zanon, Dennis Stanford and Joyce Oleksy.

By TERRI CASTELAZ

Staff Writer

NORWAY — It’s rare to be able to celebrate a full century on this Earth

Even fewer who reach that 100-year mark can say they are as active as Gelindo “Geno” Solda.

The Norway resident, who turned triple digits today, still lives on his own and drives.

Terri Castelaz/Daily News photos GELINDO “GENO” SOLDA of Norway celebrated his century on earth with a party Thursday at the Norway Senior Center. He will also be honored by family and friends Saturday at a special celebration at Oak Crest Golf Course in Norway.

Solda was born May 17, 1922, in Loretto, to the late Guilo and Mary (Povolo) Solda. He is the oldest of three boys. His youngest brother, Leroy, resides in Milwaukee and his younger brother, Bruce, passed away in 2018 at the age of 94.

Geno attended school in Loretto and worked in the Civilian Conservation Corps before being drafted into the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1942. He worked as an airplane mechanic on B-24 bombers, serving until 1945.

During this time, he met actor Jimmy Stewart, who was a pilot in the Army Air Corps. “He (Stewart) joked with him that if his plane was cleaner it would go faster,” said his son, Mike Solda. “When he watches his films, he always says, ‘There’s my Army buddy.'”

Geno also took part in the U.P. Honor Flight in 2013.

In 1943, he married the former Maxine Marchetti in Sioux City, Iowa. They celebrated their 50th anniversary in October 1993. Geno later married LaVerne J. Baril in 1997 and they were married for 23 years. LaVerne passed away in 2020.

Geno retired from the Niagara Paper Mill in 1984 at age 62 after 38 years.

In addition to his son, Michael (Kristi) Solda of Norway, he has two grandsons, Matt and Tony; four stepchildren, Linda Baril of Kingsford, Laurie (Brian) Whear of Iron River, LuAnne (Jim) Batti of Kingsford and Lee (Pam) Baril of Eau Claire Wis.; several stepgrandchildren and stepgreat-grandchildren.

Geno was a longtime avid golfer and a member of a local golf league. “We were partners in a golf for years and now has passed that honor on to the next generation,” said Mike Solda, noting Geno still comes and enjoys watching Mike and his grandson play together.

Geno loves following his grandchildren’s activities or sports events. “He never misses anything,” he added.

He has also been an outdoorsman all his life, enjoying fishing and hunting. “He still was able to go hunting last fall,” Mike Solda added.

In the 1970s, Geno coached Norway Little League teams. His son also noted that in his younger years he was known to be a “good catcher” on the local baseball teams.

He is also an active patron at the Norway Senior Center. In addition to enjoying meals with his friends, he plays cards during the winter months.

“We really enjoy ourselves here (center),” Geno Solda said.

His son said Geno also looks forward to his trips to the casino. “And he’s lucky, too,” he added.

Geno is a longtime member of St. Mary Catholic Church of Norway.

When asked about his secret for a longevity, he responded that his doctor always says, “One Manhattan is good, but don’t take the second one. But I don’t listen to him too often,” he said with a laugh.

His son said he’s always been exceptionally healthy his whole life, including never having any major surgeries. “He also had COVID and never had a symptom,” Mike Solda said. “So, there’s something to those Manhattans.”

Solda’s family will host a party in his honor this weekend at Oak Crest Golf Course in Norway.

Terri Castelaz can be reached at 906-774-2772, ext. 241, or tcastelaz@ironmountaindailynews.com.

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