It all started 70 years ago in the town of Linz, Austria where our beloved, Rita Shisler opened her eyes to see the world in front of her for the very first time. Rita was born on August 12th, 1946 to her parents, Ludwig and Henrietta Baumgartner. Rita spent the earliest years of her life in a Displaced Persons camp in Ebelsberg, Austria. Her father Ludwig, worked for the American soldiers in Ebelsberg while her mother, Henrietta, went to nursing school. Having lived in Ebelsberg for 6 years, Rita had run into a major health scare as a child, developing Diptheria, a serious infection of the nose and throat. The infection had become grave to a point where doctors questioned her survival because of it. Rita went on to say, “During the Diptheria outbreak, there was a large room where children with the infection would stay, eat, sleep and receive their medications. During the night, several kids were shipped out because they had gone to heaven.” Later on, Rita was sent to another camp for food and medications in an effort to battle this infection. Miraculously, Rita pulled through and conquered the odds.
In 1952, Rita and her parents moved to Germany when her sister, Minnie, was born. Following their stay in Germany, her father thoroughly enjoyed the work he did for the American soldiers back in Ebelsberg that he wanted to bring his family to America. In an effort to come to America, they applied through the Catholic Church and eventually found a sponsor in New York. Growing up, Rita’s time was dedicated to school while taking care of the children, the cooking and the cleaning at home, while somehow managing to carry on her duties at work at Akron City Hospital. Rita belonged to the German Club after coming over from Germany, where she participated in youth group events such as singing and dancing.
A time later, as a senior high school girl, Rita tested out of the Akron City Rubber Company. The Akron City Rubber Company was testing senior high school girls in office practice for shorthand and typing. From there, Rita was placed with the BF Goodrich program, but instead decided to move to Defiance, Ohio, where she continued her collegiate education as she had wanted to go to law school. As part of her collegiate resume, Rita continued classwork at The University of Akron and Kent State University in the years following. She also worked for the Holiday Inn where she was sent to the Culinary Arts program at Cornell University. Soon, thereafter, Rita met Dan Shisler, and it was a match made in heaven and the beginning of the marriage of Rita and cheese.
THE BIRTH OF A CHEESE HOUSE
Shisler’s Cheese House was originally owned by a gentleman named Fred Biery and was then called Biery Cheese. Dan’s father, “Grandpa Shisler” bought the cheese store from Fred Biery when he retired from the railroad, after Biery traveled with his wife to Switzerland to convince Grandpa Shisler to do so. Eventually, Dan bought the cheese store from his father, and Shisler’s Cheese House stands today at the corner of Kidron Rd and US-30.
As the cheese store was in its infancy stages, Rita didn’t quite have that firework passion for cheese that she has today, and rightly so with anyone that is initially put into foreign waters. But, overtime, Rita developed a passion for business, customer service and of course, a burning passion for cheese as Shisler’s Cheese House has become her livelihood. The work, the customers and the cheese keeps her coming back for more. As Rita said “I am too old to start a new career” and why should she tamper with something that isn’t broken. Never mess with a good thing, or in this case, a great thing! More importantly than the cheese she sells to her customers, are her customers themselves. She treats them like royalty, because they are royalty. She has built rapports and lifelong friendships with countless customers over the years and they continue to come back knowing that they will have a personalized touch to their purchase, and more importantly, their visit with Rita. “I feel like I have an audience when I’m out there”, as Rita always delivers for her customers, no matter the day or time. She always has room, in what seems like an unending schedule, to talk with her customers and make them apart of her family, something you cannot find these days.
Last Christmas, the store was overflowing with customers, as is the norm for that time of the year for the store. Rita noted that it was the greatest thing seeing three generations of Shislers working in the store that day… herself, her son Dennis and her granddaughter, Natalia.
Wishing you a wonderful, beautiful, Happy 70th Birthday, Rita! May the day, the smiles and the cheese be amazing on your birthday and every day that follows!