Marie Schutz

Date of Birth

April 30th, 1922

Date of Death

August 21st, 2020

Memorial Meeting

Redwood Forest Friends Meeting

Minute

Marie Haves Schutz, 98 on August 21, 2020, died at her beloved Friends House, Santa Rosa, home for the last chapter of her long, full and loving life.

Born on April 30, 1922 she was a fourth generation Californian. A child of the Depression, her early need for glasses went unfilled and she learned to depend on the spoken words of her teachers, rather than the blackboard, flexing the muscle of her memory to extraordinary capacity. Her tenacious mind and love of language stumped many a Scrabble player later in life.

The eldest of six in an Irish Catholic family, it was expected that she would join the convent. This she simply could not do, so she turned to a reluctant option B: school teacher.

The eruption of WWII gave her the opportunity to delay that pursuit with a tour of duty in the Navy WAVES, working to decipher Japanese weather codes. If her experience in the Navy cracked open the door to future possibilities, UC Berkeley’s International House blew it wide open. The vibrant, diverse community there was the backdrop for her departure from the Catholic Church as she heard herself tell her friends, more than once, that she couldn’t volunteer an opinion until she found out what the Church had to say on the topic. It became clear that she had places to go and things to do outside the prescriptions of family and Church.

The same friends who supported her through the life-shattering decision to leave Catholicism helped her make the quieter, but no less profound, discovery that she might prefer the library to the classroom. She remained in touch with several of the friends she made at International House for the rest of her life. It was also there that Marie met Robert Schutz, and together they embarked upon a life of community building and social action.

Marie and Robert raised four children who well remember the love and security she brought to their childhood as well as the stories she told to their delight and horror. Among the horrors was the quality of tomatoes she examined under the microscope at age 16 as a member of the Cannery Workers Union of Santa Clara County.

Everywhere the family went, some library received the blessing of her skills and passion, from Albany and Woodside High Schools, to UC Berkeley to the periodicals department of the Hoover Institution. She built two libraries from scratch, one for John Woolman School in Nevada City and one for Friends House.

While she occasionally mused about roads not taken, like an internship at the Library of Congress she had to turn down, so many of the roads she did take led her to fascinating and fulfilling places. Long after her diminishing eyesight prevented her from reading, she continued to devour books by various means, including a daily reading group at Friends House and the seemingly endless resources of the Library for the Blind.

In the early days of their young family, Marie became involved with AFSC, and found that Quakerism suited her. Realizing it suited her children too, the whole family joined Berkeley Friends Meeting. The Schutzes were long-time members of Berkeley and Palo Alto meetings and eventually Marie and Bob transferred their membership to Redwood Forest Friends Meeting in Santa Rosa where Marie served as Recording Clerk and informal meeting historian. Her role as curator of the meeting library pleased her, and she enjoyed making gifts of books to new members from her own prodigious Quaker library.

Marie mentored many young Friends of Pacific Yearly Meeting and served on Faith and Practice Committee. In College Park Quarterly Meeting she was instrumental in the State of the Meeting Clinics, helping to listen and guide troubled Meetings to wholeness. She was a faithful Friend to Friends General Conference, serving Central Committee and the Ministry and Nurture Committee.

After their kids were grown, Marie and Bob helped establish Monan’s Rill, the intentional community outside of Santa Rosa, now in its fourth generation. With Marie’s death, the last of the thirteen founders is gone.

After 17 years at Monan’s Rill, the pair moved to Friends House where Robert died in 2001 and Marie continued to enjoy a wonderful quality of life until the onset of the Covid pandemic. Her inability to be in the company of dear friends and family, the physical diminishment suffered through lack of pool exercise and her lack of agency took their toll. But her indomitable spirit and gracious generosity persisted and lives on in those who knew her and in the many organizations she supported.

Marie is survived by her children David Schutz, Mico Sorrel, Roberta Schutz, and Karla Herndon, grandchildren Ethan and Brendan Sorrelgreen, Henry and Eva Herndon, Walter, Theodore and Antonia Schutz, and great grandchildren Milo, Desmond, Callie, Avery and Dazen Sorrelgreen.

The phrase ‘a life well-lived’ is perhaps over-used. But assuredly not when it comes to Marie Schutz. Well lived, Marie, well, well lived.

Memorial contributions may be given in Marie’s name to Friends House, Santa Rosa or International House, Berkeley.