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Robert Franklin Schumaker, "Bobcat", 79, died from brain cancer peacefully at home on April 19, 2018 with his loving wife and faithful cat at his side. His last 3 months were increasingly difficult as he continued to lose his physical and mental abilities, but he bore it with dignity.
Bob was born on January 7, 1939 in Alexandria , Louisiana to 0.F. (Frank) and Edith Bender Schumaker. His dad was a forest ranger stationed there and later in North Carolina but eventually the family moved to Hamilton where Frank was the ranger for the Magruder District. The family spent every summer for many years at the Magruder Ranger Station along the Selway River in Idaho, and Bob had such fond memories of sleeping out in a tent with his two older brothers (his parents and two younger siblings slept in the cabin), climbing the mountains, hiking, fishing and helping his dad. He was proud that Schumaker Creek in Idaho and the Schumaker Campground at Twin Lakes in the Bitterroots were named after his dad, Frank.
After graduating from Hamilton High School, Bob attended the University of Idaho where he majored in mechanical engineering. He was president of his senior class, a member of Delta Tau Delta fraternity, and received many awards for scholarship, activities and service to the school. He earned his commission in the R.O.T.C. program there. During the summers when he was in college, he was a Smokejumper and this was one of the most favorite parts of his life. His rookie year was 1959 at the base in Missoula. He loved to tell people that the first plane he ever went up in, he jumped out of! There is a special bond among Smokejumpers and he loved going to the reunions and after he retired, participating in the Smokejumper T.R.A.M.P.S. program (Trail Restoration & Maintenance Project Specialists). He enjoyed the work, but most of all he loved sitting around the campfire with his buddies, sharing the bottle, and telling and listening to the "silk" stories as they relived their glory days.
After graduation, he was stationed in Germany and was a Battery Commander in an artillery battalion, earning the rank of Captain. While there he married Diane Taber who was also from Hamilton, and together they had two children, Kirstin and Brian who he took great pride in and loved deeply. After he was discharged from the Army, he worked for the Sandia National Laboratory in Livermore, California, and then as a civilian with the Navy at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, Washington as a mechanical and nuclear engineer. Although he and Diane later divorced, they remained friends and he would always say that no matter what had happened in the past, she was the mother of his children and he would always care about her. While he was in Bremerton, he used the G.I. Bill to realize his dream of learning to fly.
He also started mountain climbing, summiting most of the "big" ones in the Northwest, some in Mexico and Europe, and the one he was most proud of, Mt. McKinley (as it was known then). He was a member of the Seattle Mountain Search and Rescue and participated in many of their missions.
After his retirement he moved back to Hamilton and built the house that he had designed. He resumed flying, renting planes and taking anyone he could find for rides over the valley and the mountains. He loved to land at the wilderness air strips, especially Moose Creek.
He was also a member of a gliding club and spent many hours soaring over the valley in the glider.
He loved downhill skiing and thought there was nothing better than zooming down the slopes and through the trees on a perfect powder day. At Lost Trail Powder Mountain he was known as "Bread Bob" because every Thursday he brought up all the bread for the kitchen in exchange for a season pass. He was on the Nordic Ski Patrol, and assisted with the building of the Gordon Reese Ski Hut at the Chief Joseph cross-country ski area.
In 2001 he met Barb Allen on a group hike to the Blodgett Arch . Neither realized it at the time, but they had both met the love of their life. They got together 9 months later when he finally got around to taking her flying, and after a trip to McCart Lookout they were a done deal. On Valentine's Day 2003 they were married and spent the next 15 years doing all the outdoor activities that they loved: flying, skiing, camping, hiking, backpacking, biking, kayaking, traveling to foreign countries and all over the U.S. (including Alaska) and Canada. Bob was a founding member of the Selway/Bitterroot Foundation and on the board for many years. For 15 years he and Barb were part of the volunteer group that manned the Salmon Mountain Lookout.
People who knew Bob often said that he was "a good man". And he was a good man: he was loving, kind, generous, a good neighbor and friend, and would do anything for anyone. He could also be stubborn to a fault, but give him a problem and somehow or other he would get it taken care of no matter how long it took. He was loved and will be missed by many.
He is survived by his wife, Barb, daughter Kirstin Schumaker (Wendy), son Brian Schumacher (A'Dora), stepdaughter Amy Allison (Mike), stepson Brad Wilson, grandchildren (who adored him) Sepha Schumacher, and Tyler, Brooke and Gavin Allison. Others include his brothers Ted (Ursula) , John(Vera) , and Bill(Teresa), sister Mary Alice Holloway (Mel), numerous nieces and nephews, extended family including Barb's family, and special friends Jeannie and Ken Green, and Dale Dye.
The family would like to thank Partners in Home Care & Hospice for their compassion, incredible service and support during this difficult time. It made it possible for Bob to stay home where he most wanted to be. Thanks to those who called, sent cards, flowers and food and most of all those who came to visit him. Those visits brightened his days so much. Even as his mind and body failed him, he was able to enjoy the company of friends and family almost up to the end.
The family suggest memorials to the National Smokejumpers Association Good Samaritan Fund, c/o Chuck Sheley, 1O Judy Ln., Chico, CA 95926. Condolences may be left for the family at dalyleachchapel.com.
Cremation has taken place and there will be a private family service during the Schumaker family reunion in Hamilton in July. No other services are planned at this time, though a gathering to celebrate his life will take place next fall.