Men & Women of the Year
Meet nine dynamic people we honor for their major contributions to our community.
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PHILANTHROPIST; FOOD MOGUL
“I’m an entrepreneur,” Shelly Stayer says. “Usually, at any given time, I have my hand in five or six businesses. That’s my hobby. I don’t knit. I don’t sew. That’s what I do.”
It’s well known that the Wisconsin transplant and her husband, Ralph, are the sole owners of Johnsonville Sausage—the largest sausage brand by revenue in the United States (as well as 30 other countries). But she is also part owner of Grace & Shelly’s Cupcakes and Sushi Samba, an international sushi restaurant. Pun intended, you’d think her plate was full.
And yet, the 51-year-old wanted to be even busier, so she’s currently working on a book about the relationships between fathers and sons. “All summer I’ve been interviewing famous sons about their fathers,” she says. So far she’s interviewed Cal Ripken Jr. (and Sr.), Alec Baldwin, Willie Davis, Newt Gingrich and Naples’ own Jay Baker, just to name a few. Her excitement about the project is palpable. But then, it’s her unbridled enthusiasm that has made her a favorite on the philanthropic scene, where she’s targeted several needy organizations to support.
It’s a wonderfully eclectic life.
Which is why it shouldn’t surprise too many of us that her top two bucket list items are “Meet the Pope” and “Fish in Alaska.” In that order.
Different career path: I would love to be the person who designs packaging. Sometimes I’ll be in the grocery store for two hours and all I’m doing is looking at packaging. I’m passionate about it. How to improve Southwest Florida: I would have more fun things to do. Maybe movies on the beach? Subject she won’t discuss at cocktail parties: Politics. I’m sick of it. People might not know: My father was one of 17 children. Irish Catholic. A typical wedding in Wisconsin you would have 650 people and most would be relatives. Guilty pleasure: I eat four cupcakes a day—several days a week. We just opened a Grace & Shelly’s in Milwaukee. Greatest regret: I didn’t stay home as much as I’d have liked when my children were young. Greatest success: That my husband, Ralph, and I have raised three amazing children. They are wonderful people.