Robert Cumming Schenck Sr. | PostIndependent.com

Robert Cumming Schenck Sr.

Robert “Bob” Cumming Schenck, Sr., of Carbondale, Colorado, died on Friday, April 1st, 2016. Bob is preceded in death by his wife, Betty Lou Schenck. Robert, Bob, or to his friends, “The Big Bear” was 89 years old.

Bob was born on August 29, 1926, in Syracuse, New York and was adopted at birth by Paul Andrew and Lillian Martin Schenck. Bob and his adopted brother Bill were raised by this loving couple who gave the two brothers a legacy of Colorado heritage that was always present throughout Bob’s very full life. Bob’s father, Paul, grew up in Colorado at the turn of the century and left Denver in 1903 to obtain his degree in engineering from Cornell in 1907. Bob spent his early years in Rome, New York where he finished high school at the Rome Free Academy. Bob began his collegiate career at Paul Smiths in the Lake Saranac region of New York before he transferred to the University of Denver’s Hotel and Restaurant School.

The Schenck family legacy drew Bob to the Roaring Fork Valley as his grandfather, Charles Meigs Schenck, founded the Colorado Supply Company, which supported miners in Redstone and other camps on the Western Slope of Colorado. Photographs documenting these historic Coloradoans can be seen at the Redstone Museum. The Schenck family always treated Bob as if he were a blood relative and Bob felt extremely fortunate to have been raised by parents who gave him a connection to the history of and family legacy in Colorado.

Bob could never resist the call of Colorado, and graduated with a degree in hotel and restaurant management from the University of Denver. Bob began managing the Old Town Club in the late 1940’s in the Mile High City. In addition to his career in hotel management, Bob was also very proud of his military service. He received an honorable discharge from the US Army (34th Infantry) on May 30, 1947, and was a life long member of the American Legion, Post #100, in Carbondale, Colorado.

While running the Old Town Club in downtown Denver, Bob met his wife Betty “Betsy” Lou Schade when she stopped into the club looking for a place to use for a recital. Bob and Betty were married at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Denver on December 17, 1951. Bob and Betsy were married for 63 years until Betsy’s death on March 1, 2015.

In the early 1950s, Bob and Betsy moved to New Braunfels, Texas, where Bob took a job as a civilian consultant for the US Air Force. Bob was stationed at Randolph Air Force Base where he managed officers clubs across the United States. Bob and Betsy made New Braunfels their home for a number of years, and it is the city where all six Schenck children were born and many wonderful life-long friendships were formed. Bob always spoke fondly of his 15 years in Texas, however, Bob could not stay away from Colorado for long, and he and Betty moved the family back to Carbondale in 1968, where they made Missouri Heights their home. Bob’s wish was to live out his final years in the home he built for his wife and six children.

Both Bob and Betty thrived upon their return to Colorado-while Betsy taught music at Colorado Mountain College, Bob used his ingenuity to invest in real estate up and down the Roaring Fork Valley. In the early 1970’s, Bob read that oil shale exploration was being planned in the Rifle, Colorado. Bob took this information and made several successful investments in real estate in the in Rifle, New Castle, and various surrounding areas during the several booms that occurred in the Western Slope region of Colorado. In addition to real estate investment, Bob was a very talented contrarian stock market investor, and he loved blue chip dividend stocks, buying low and rarely selling.

Though Bob thrived in business, he was first and foremost an outdoorsman who enjoyed nothing more than hunting and fishing. Bob took his family on many weekend camping trips throughout the Carbondale area to fish, hike, and explore in the outdoors. He especially enjoyed the Lead King Basin area above Marble, Colorado where he loved fishing the South Fork of the Crystal River and camping at Geneva Lake, often in the rain. Any time he drove next to a cliff Bob would joke, “we could fry our fish on the way down to the bottom” if we slipped off the side. In later years, Bob’s love for “the Lead King Loop” was supplanted by his interest in the Raggeds above McClure Pass where he made his home away from home. Bob undeniably knew how to handle himself in the outdoors, and before it was hip to do so, he was extremely careful with, and protective of, the environment.

Bob Schenck will be remembered for his hard work, gregarious nature, great sense of humor, infectious laugh, his love for his wife and family, the mountains, and especially the outdoors of Colorado, what he would lovingly refer to as “the high country.” One of the few remaining mountain men has passed on to an area of Columbines, Indian Paint Brush, where there is always a timberline in the distance and the sound of mountain stream waters roars louder than the elk bugles, and where all of this is mixed with the occasional mischievous slap of a beaver tail. This is where Bob ha rejoined his wife Betsy, and where his family know he has found eternal peace.

Bob Schenck was predeceased by his wife, Betsy (Betty Lou Schade 5/12/1927-3/1/2015), his brother Bill Schenck, and his daughter-in-law Kellie Schenck. Bob is survived by his six children, daughter Susan Schenck of Denver (husband Ed Drummond, granddaughter Meriel), daughter Barbara Hale of Grand Junction (husband Russell, grandsons Robert, David, and Jonathan), son Bobby Schenck of Albuquerque (wife Tricia, grandchildren Lillian, Gus, Helen, George, and Marian), daughter Patty Naft of Paonia (husband Skip Naft), daughter Paula Byra of Denver (husband Andy Byra, granddaughter Betsy), and son John Schenck of Carbondale (grandchildren Dara, Rand, Paul, and Dayton). The entire Schenck family is extremely grateful for all of Bob’s care givers, and those who helped around the house; and a special thanks to Susan Schenck and Paula Byra for their amazing spirit of love and hard work they displayed while caring for their father, Bob Schenck, Sr. in the months preceding his death.

A celebration of life will be held Memorial Day Weekend at the American Legion in Carbondale, Colorado on Saturday, May 28, 2016. There will be a ceremonial wreath service on the banks of Bob’s beloved Roaring Fork River on Monday, May 30, 2016. Details of the celebration will be forthcoming and all are welcome to attend and celebrate Bob’s life at that time. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made in the memory of Bob Schenck to the American Legion Scholarship fund, Post 100, 97 North 3rd St., Carbondale, Colorado 81623.


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