KENDALL, New York —An Orleans County town can now claim an Olympic gold medal winner as a resident.
Jenn Suhr has settled into a home on Lomond Shore Drive along Lake Ontario with her husband Rick, who is also her coach. They both praised their friendly neighbors.
“We love the people,” said Jenn, who won gold in the pole vault last month at the London Olympics. “The people are just phenomenal.”
Mr. Suhr, a Lyndonville native, said he scouted properties for three years along Lake Ontario between Old Fort Niagara to Sodus in Wayne County. Two years ago he settled on the home in Kendall. The lawn was three feet high at the time and the house needed lots of work.
Suhr remodeled the house, doing most of the work himself, with some help from his wife and brothers.
Rick grew up in Lyndonville and moved the Spencerport when he was 11. He was a state wrestling champion. He also played baseball, but gave the pole vault a try in seventh grade when Spencerport cut the baseball program.
Suhr said a friend encouraged him to try track, which he saw as a way to stay in shape for wrestling. He was hooked on the pole vault and would come to Lyndonville to practice on a home-made vault and a pit made of straw. Suhr set it up behind the tee-off for the nine hole at White Birch Golf Course, which is owned by his brother Harold.
Suhr went on to develop his own coaching style for the vault and built his own training facility in Riga. He spotted the former Jenn Stuczynski when she played basketball for Roberts Wesleyan College, where she graduated in 2004. She gave vaulting a try and with Suhr’s help, she soon was among the best in the world. She won silver in the 2008 Olympics. Now the Fredonia native has the gold medal.
The couple attended the Orleans County Chamber of Commerce awards dinner on Saturday at the White Birch. Jenn signed photos for free for the crowd.
The both said they love small-town life, and they’re happy in Kendall, where Jenn said, “It’s beautiful.”
Jenn isn’t the only big-name athlete to live in Kendall. Former Syracuse University basketball star Roosevelt Bouie also lives in town. When Mr. Suhr was cleaning out the attic on Lomond Shore, he found a program from a Sectional game in the mid-1970s, when the Bouie-lead Kendall team went undefeated.
Suhr’s grandfather and great-grandfather also were butchers in Kendall, family history he didn’t know until he and his wife bought their house.
Jenn is going a tour in Western New York, giving people a chance to see her gold medal. She’ll return home to Fredonia on Saturday for a 5 p.m. celebration at Barker Commons.
She’ll be back at RWC on Sept. 28 for a pole vaulting demonstration at 8 p.m. as part of the school’s homecoming celebration. On Sept. 30, she will be featured in the Buffalo Bills pre-game celebration at 10:30 a.m. inside the Buffalo Bills Fieldhouse.
Suhr said she shares a message when she talks to teen-agers.
“We try to emphasize lifestyles, making good choices and surrounding yourself with the right people,” she said.’
by: Tom Rivers
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