100 year old AuGres resident receives degree
AuGRES — Fred Sheill never technically graduated from Michigan State University, but on Jan. 15, the 100 year old from AuGres received an honorary degree from MSU in Forestry, officially making him a Spartan alumnus.
The Degree was presented to Sheill by a three-man party from Lansing consisting of 97th District Representative Tim Moore (R-Farwell), Michigan State Sen. James Barcia (D-Bay City) and 96th District Representative Jeff Mayes (D-Bay City).
“You are the newest member of the class of 1931,” Moore told Scheill as he handed him the degree, which also came with an MSU alumni t-shirt and custom congratulatory cake, courtesy the legislators.
“I never thought it would happen,” Sheill said. “This reminds me of the Forestry Department (at MSU) when I was measuring trees and going to the maple shack.”
“This is long overdue,” Barcia told Sheill. “You’ve made important contributions to the agriculture community throughout your career.”
Sheill, who is known as “The Daylily King” in Arenac County for his longstanding growing and sale of the flowers, which he continues to do today, says the last time he visited his former college was three years ago.
“A lot of things have changed,” he said. He added the MSU library was just being built during his time attending MSU and there were no sidewalks, just paths formed by students continuously walking in the same spots throughout the university.
The process of getting Sheill his honorary degree actually began when George Strelczuk, an Omer resident found out about Sheill coming short of receiving a degree years ago.
“I read Fred Sheill’s book and I saw that he didn’t get his degree because he couldn’t afford it years ago,” Strelczuk said. “I got a hold of Tim Moore’s office. I said ‘Tim, we’ve got a problem here I’d like to get solved.’”
Moore says after that, his Chief of Staff, Jason Wadaga, took on the assignment and made it possible for Sheill to receive the degree.
Barcia, who along with Moore and Mayes actually traveled to Sheill’s house to award him his degree, asked Sheill his secret of living long and staying in good shape. Sheill said running his own business had a large part to do with it.
“It keeps you awake,” he said. “Being your own boss, I could do what I wanted. … As I was older, because I was my own boss, I could reduce my work.”
Sheill says he still distributes approximately 30,000 daylilies per year and prints his own brochures to place in stores for advertising purposes.