Giles Bellin is the 2014 winner of the Waupaca Area Chamber of Commerce’s Service Award.
“No matter what I do or I’m involved in, I give it my best,” he said.
Bellin was honored for his service during the Chamber’s annual awards program, held Jan. 27, at the Waupaca Ale House.
“The service award was started to acknowledge a person/volunteer in the Chamber that has really made a difference, and Giles fits the bill. He has always stepped up when help is needed, whether serving on the board of directors, the Ambassadors or just as a member, and he has done it for well over 40 years. He also promotes the Chamber to other businesses and speaks very highly of our Chamber. He is a true saint,” said Chamber President Terri Schulz.
His involvement in the organization began 40 years ago.
“I moved here in 1974. I was managing the Ron & Lloyd store and got involved in the Chamber almost immediately,” Bellin said.
At that time, the Chamber had a Retail Committee, and he served on it.
“We worked hard, but we had a lot of fun,” Bellin said. “I was president of the Chamber in 1979, and over the years, served on the board of directors. It gave me the opportunity to work with a lot of great people.”
Many of Bellin’s years in Waupaca included working in the grocery store business.
He was a high school student in Algoma when he began working at the local Red Owl.
After Bellin graduated from high school, a full-time position was not available at the store.
Soon there was an opening at the Red Owl in Marinette.
From there, Bellin went to Antigo, Iron Mountain in Michigan and to the Milwaukee area.
In all, he spent a total of 16 years working for Red Owl Corporation.
Bellin described all the moves as challenging but also exciting.
When he and his wife Cleo moved to Waupaca in the 1970s with their family, it was because he had accepted a position at Ron & Lloyd’s.
For about 16 years, Bellin managed the Waupaca grocery store.
Then, for about 8 1/2 years, he was the general manager of their other stores, which ranged from five to seven.
“All my life, I had been in the grocery business,” he said.
When that came to an end, Bellin worked at Sturm Foods for a time.
Then Dick Wanty hired him to help with some home building projects, something for which Bellin is still grateful.
“It gave me a tremendous lift of self esteem,” Bellin said.
He worked for Wanty nine weeks, which was followed by 7 1/2 years at WDUX.
“One of the things I started was the WDUX Breakfast Show,” Bellin said. “And it’s still going.”
Around 2010, Bellin began doing consulting work for businesses.
“It was a natural lead into promotional products,” he said, because businesses often wanted those kinds of items for anniversary celebrations.
That was the beginning of Northstar Promotions, the business Bellin and daughter Mary Burns run together as partners.
“We’ve been at it ever since,” he said. “People ask when I will retire.”
Bellin said he always responds, “I am retired. I work when I want.”
In addition to his Chamber involvement, Bellin is also a member of the Knights of Columbus council at St. Mary Magdalene Catholic Community.
He and Cleo have five children, 13 grandchildren and eight grandchildren.
“I think many of us in this community have been given so much. This is an opportunity and a privilege to give back,” Bellin said. “I really feel it’s been a privilege to live, work and play here in Waupaca. I think more people should take a step back and look at if it weren’t for people putting on things, this wouldn’t be the community we know.”