So God made a farmer…
How does one sum up the life of a great man in a few hundred words? It seems impossible, yet we try.
David Wallace Schaal passed into eternity on Saturday, May 18, 2019, at the age of 78. We know for sure two of the first people he met up with inside the pearly gates were his grandson, Wyatt, and his great-granddaughter, Jalyn. No doubt Jalyn gave him the biggest bear hug ever, and Wyatt probably has him at an auction already. He was greatly looking forward to seeing them both again, and that gives those of us left behind some comfort.
Dad was born March 9, 1941, in Shawano, Wisconsin, the firstborn of two sons born to Wallace and Helen (Brock) Schaal. His younger brother came along several years later, and anybody who knew Dad surely knew his brother Ben, for the two were rarely apart for long.
When God made a farmer out of Dad, He got one of the most dedicated farmers to grace the fields of northeast Wisconsin, and, not to be presumptuous, but perhaps in all of America. Nobody loved farming quite like Dad did. He had the optimism of a farmer, that’s for sure. Who else could bring the farm back from the brink of bankruptcy in the 80’s, when farming was desperate (much as it is now)? Dad did. Not only did he save the family farm, his innovations helped it to prosper, enabling his eldest son, three nephews, and two granddaughters to join the family farm as they reached adulthood.
Dad did his very best to instill a love of Jesus Christ in his children. He was the spiritual leader of the home, and made sure his kids were steeped in Christianity, and the character and integrity he firmly believed went with it.
Dad was the father of six children, and he was never shy about letting them know how proud he was of the adults they have become. He was especially gratified that all of his kids are independent business owners. He rarely passed up an opportunity to tell people about his kids and their business ventures, right up until the end.
We would be remiss in not mentioning how Dad was a father figure to so many more kids than his six. Dad has been an excellent uncle to his brother Ben (and Patti’s) seven children. Having his kids and his nieces and nephews on the Schaal side all grow up side by side was a gift for every single one of us. Indeed, we are more than cousins. We are like cousin-siblings, thanks to the way Dad helped raise us all.
Dad, alongside Mom and other dedicated parents, helped establish the Gillett Youth Wrestling Club, and made the club a powerhouse for many years. He fostered his boys’ love of wrestling, encouraging them to do their best, which enabled them to be successful in the sport.
Although he never sang a note, he encouraged his daughter’s enjoyment of music, and she earned her bachelor’s degree in music, so all those piano lessons he paid for (that she never practiced for) did eventually pay off.
In addition to taking on church responsibilities, Dad served two terms on the Gillett School Board. He also looked forward to deer hunting season and spending time at the hunting shack every fall with the Sinkhole Gang.
Dad loved and adored his wife of nearly 55 years, Sharon, nee Page. They were a perfect complement for each other, and a wonderful demonstration of how a healthy, loving marriage should look. Indeed, they made it look easy.
No matter what his kids, nephews, nieces, or grandkids were involved in, Dad was always an encourager of and supporter for them. The optimism he showed in his farming career spilled over into every facet of his life. Even weeks ago, when his health was failing, he stated, “I think I turned the corner. Things are looking up.” Spring was an exciting time of year for Dad, with planting season, calving season, and the newness of life all around. He loved that, and we are sure it’s because spring is a time of renewal and renewed hope, and why wouldn’t an optimist love that?
Left behind to grieve him is his steadfast wife, Sharon, who so lovingly cared for him as his health declined in recent months.
His children Brad (Julie), Tom (Janelle), Tammy (Pete), Bret (Lisa), Ben (Michelle), and Dallas (Michelle), will surely feel an emptiness in their hearts for a long time.
He leaves behind a gaggle of adoring grandchildren: Justin (Angela), Jeremy, Stephanie, Shannon (Cameron), Sammy (Tyler), Brett (Cindy), Kyla (Jordan) Nicole, Caleb, Colton, Baldwin, Elijah, Kaitlyn, Karissa, Jordyn, Jensyn, Sylvia, Kasey, and Lily.
He also leaves behind several great-grandchildren, including Josalyn, Madalyn, Lextin, Gracie, Kenley, Oaklyn, Lara, Conor, Dean, and one on the way.
Greeting Grandpa at heaven’s gate are his parents, his grandson, Wyatt, and his great-granddaughter, Jalyn, in addition to numerous brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law.
In addition to his wife and children, Dave’s brother, Ben (Patti) Schaal, brother-in-law and sister-in-law, Mel and Lou Vandenberg, and sister-in-law Shirley Martin, survive him, as well as numerous nieces and nephews.
The family would like to express sincere gratitude to Dad’s daughter-in-law, Nurse Practitioner Janelle Schaal, for her persistence in helping get dad diagnosed and cared for. Also, thanks go to Dr. Genaldi Maltinski for his care and concern these past few months.
Per Dad’s wishes, there will be no service.