About Tony Schlise
Tony Schlise grew up in Maplewood, Wisconsin, and served as the pilot and leader of a B-24 bomber crew in the Philippines in World War II. He returned to Door County where he owned and operated a farm implement and home store for 20 years and then opened a realty company and pursued a variety of business interests, including building and operating a motel, assisting his father in the operation of cherry orchards and a cherry processing plant, and marketing the Push Button Cherry Pitter.
Tony was passionate about people and adventure. He owned a Cessna airplane for 60 years and flew regularly, with many tales of excitement. After running out of gas and landing in a harvested corn field, at age 88, he was made King of the Little Rock, Iowa Corn Festival the following summer. Well known for his hospitality, Tony could make a party out of any occasion, treating friends to cheese, beer and bratwurst or a fish boil in his backyard with Lake Michigan trout from his fishing excursions. He made friends everywhere he went. Guests from seven countries and 15 states attended his 80th birthday party, where he rode into the crowd on his new Harley Davidson.
Tony Schlise loved the Cherry Pitter business and getting to know his customers. He sent small gifts like candy, calculators, his chili recipe, and jokes with the orders, which were shipped in recycled boxes from the local liquor store and fastened with duct tape. His customer ledgers are filled with personal anecdotes about each customer including type of farm or store, whether they had had a good year and which jokes he had sent them. He even spent one fall vacation visiting cherry growers on the East Coast including Pennsylvania, New York and Maryland.
Upon his death, we received countless condolence letters and encouragement to carry on the business. Two years after his death, buyers will still say, “We miss talking with your dad” and often: “Tony told me I was his best customer!” Two women even wrote poems: “No one knew for sure, the fun that was in store, when Tony walked through the door” and “Heaven got a little better when Tony arrived.”
See some of Tony’s jokes on 2015 Letter to Customers page.
Tony and his wife Rita on their 50th Wedding Anniversary:
Not as flashy as Tony, but loved just as well, Rita had the idea to market the Pushbutton Cherry Pitter beyond Wisconsin and did so enthusiastically for 10 years before her death.
Here is Tony with his three daughters at his 90th Birthday Party:
And Tony with his great grandson: