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Joe Stutler, a man who believes in giving back to the community
by Nancy Grindle Correspondent · April 20th, 2017

(Over the last few months, I've heard the name Joe Stutler in connection with major events every so often. Curiosity drove me to find this man and learn more about him and the causes he supports. It has been an interesting search, for Joe is an interesting person.)

Joe Stutler seems like a pretty regular guy until you look more closely. His name comes up every so often in connection with major events - like the political candidate meetings and the Stand Down held each September for vets and other needy people.

Joe has organized and overseen the hot meal at the Stand Down lunchtime with the help of many volunteers. When we asked why he helps with that event, Joe responded, "A good hot meal goes a long way towards boosting one's morale and even self-image." He's all for helping in that way.

He's on the Board of Community Circle of Care, the 501(c)(3) that runs the Sleepout for Homeless. Joe said, "Having been virtually homeless when I moved here, I believe in giving back to the community that has helped me so much."

Joe shared a bit about his earlier life and about other causes he supports.

He was raised in the community of Rome in Upstate New York, an "Air Force and mill town that was central to the Revolutionary War and Erie Canal."

The oldest of three boys, his mom still lives there and his dad passed away a couple of years ago.

He is a self-described science geek: "I was, and still am, a science geek, interested in chemistry and engineering and computers and such. My most influential teacher was in 6th grade - Mr. Passalaqua - who really encouraged my scientific curiosity."

Joe said his folks also encouraged his various scientific pursuits, so he had chemistry sets, high voltage labs, dark rooms and whatever else he could put together with salvaged materials.

He went through the Scouting program - Cubs, Boys and Explorers - as well as participating in theater, track, choir, and of course, science club.

Joe commented, "Early on, I wanted to explore the universe and see what there was to discover. I narrowed it down through high school to the computer field, programming and systems with an interest in man-machine interface. A brief pass through a semester of college convinced me that a growing-up stint in the military would get me better prepared for success in school (not to mention make it affordable), so off to the Army for me."

He joined a delayed entry program and headed to basic training in December 1982. He was trained to be a communications officer. He worked at a lot of different positions (but never in a comm center). Among those were Nuclear, Biological and Defense NCO; Supply Clerk; Unit Armorer; Computer Programmer; and others.

He considers himself fortunate to have been stationed in Germany for seven years and then to Saudi Arabia (Desert Storm), where his exposure to various societies and cultures fed his interest in both people and food, things which stick with him today. (He says he's the least picky eater you'll ever find and loves to cook, especially for others.)

He was discharged after 10 years and stayed in the National Guard for another eight.

Joe said that these days he "tries to make the world a little bit better than I found it." We are convinced of that after we hear about the causes he supports.

In addition to the ones we've mentioned already, here are a number of others and Joe's comments about each:

He serves as Vice Chair of the Marion Civil Rights Commission, a position he's held since the commission was formed a few years ago. "Civil Rights is a passion of mine, an opportunity for me to continue to fight for the rights we all should be able to enjoy. I'm leading the effort to establish a speakers' bureau, folks who can come to various civic organizations and talk about the commission's mission and how it pertains to all the citizens of Marion."

He is on the Linn County Foods System Council, an advisory council to the Linn County Board of Supervisors. "We look at our food systems and what policies the county can implement to improve food security, availability, accessibility, etc."

Joe is the Public Relations Director for Humanists of Linn County. He describes the HLC as "an organization that promotes equality for all, regardless of faith. In addition to the social aspects of an organization that takes the place of church for many secular folks, we raise money for public school STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics) programs, clean a highway we adopted, and lobby our government for equitable treatment, etc."

In fact, HLC recently gave computer-related "stuff" to one of the Cedar Rapids science departments and just Monday went to Des Moines to host "Reason on the Hill Day" at the Capitol, which included speaking with lawmakers. HLC President gave the invocation in the House Chambers around 1 p.m. that day.

Joe is on the board of the Veterans National Recovery Center, which seeks to find treatment for TBI, burns, PTSD and other injuries of wounded warriors.

We asked Joe if he has family here, and he does. His wife Sarah is the Specialty Cheese Specialist at the Edgewood Road Hy-Vee store.

According to Joe, "We met at a political event, got married at the end of a political event and work together on various political issues." They have been married five years. During their spare time they like walking, cooking, reading, music and travel.

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