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Longtime resident, volunteer reflects on life in Citrus Heights

Jerry Still sits down for an interview during his 80th birthday celebration, held on Sept. 17 at his house, with about 100 attendees. // M. Hazlip

By Mike Hazlip—
San Juan High School graduate and community volunteer Jerry Still, who turned 80 last month, was just six years old when he moved to Citrus Heights with his family not long after WWII had ended.

His father had loaded the family and belongings into a Packard with cardboard on two of the windows and headed to Oregon for greener pastures when their vehicle broke down along what was then Highway 40.

“The truck broke down and, he just, he decided just to stay here and I don’t know why,” Still said.

The family rented a room from a woman who lived on Twin Oaks until Still’s father purchased some land to build a home. Today, that stretch of road is Auburn Boulevard, and a shopping center now sits across from where the Still family decided to settle.

“We broke down there across from Grand Oaks Shopping Center and they bought that property there, put a couple of lodges, you know, rooms and stuff, but nobody told them about the new freeway coming through,” he said describing plans to open an inn at the location.

Still describes growing up in the area as an idyllic countryside. His father worked for the railroad and was often away from home.

“I mean, it was just wide open,” he said of Citrus Heights in the 1940s and 1950s. “Nobody ever locked their door, you know, everybody knew everybody. It was just the white picket fence and a family and go to work every day.”

During his youth, Still learned the value of service to others through attending Lions Club meetings with his father, an impression that stays with him today.

At 14, Still learned the trade of plumbing and went into business for himself at 19, just after graduating high school.

“So my wife helped me and figured ‘what the heck we can do it,’” he said. “So I went for it and I did it… (until) I started falling off too many roofs and getting stuck under too many houses.”

His business was based in Roseville, and Still says he has taken on jobs as far away as Texas, Tennessee, and Idaho over the five decades he worked.

Through the years working his business, Still continued to participate in the Lions Club. He recalled traveling to Yuba City after a flood, and says the organization is one of the first to volunteer during times of crisis.

“It was just human nature,” he said. “It was just as what you did. You didn’t ask questions or anything; they needed help, you just went for it.”

Still’s last job was about three years ago when he worked on the plumbing for the kitchen of a nonprofit organization. He fell from the roof and broke his leg, putting a stop to his career.

Today, Still stays busy with the Citrus Heights Historical Society and the San Juan Alumni Association. He looks back fondly at the five decades working as a plumber, saying that helping others is the most rewarding part of the job.

“Just giving and watching the smiles on their faces,” Still says. “You know, and the ‘thank you’s.’ It makes you feel good that you did something worthwhile.”

Editor’s note: This article is part of an ongoing Sentinel project to feature interviews and profiles of local community members and volunteers. If you would like to nominate a local resident for a feature, please submit your recommendations via our news tips page.

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