Fought Through it All

December 14, 2009
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Fought Through it All

Generous, respectful, he would give you the shirt off his back, my grandfather, Robert Schamel is my hero. As a child, Robert was the oldest of four kids. He came from a middle class, hardworking family. In high school he was a cheerleader, but of course, his family didn’t find out until after his funeral. During college at Rhode Island, he was a gymnast, and, thus, was very fit. He was 5 foot 11 inches, strawberry blonde hair, blue eyed, and handsome. Before he graduated from Rhode Island with an undergraduate for business, he was drafted into the army. Later, during dental school at The Ohio State University, he met his wife, Barbara Miller. A year later, they were married. He had four kids, Mary Jo, Sally, Rob, and Steve. As a successful dentist, he had his own practice. Throughout his life, he learned important values such as hospitality, like Odysseus, generosity, goodwill, how to have a positive and upbeat personality, and he learned to have fun, all reasons that make him a hero.

Many people remember Robert for his hospitality and his ability to entertain. He had a tennis court in his backyard and every Sunday he would have a party and they would have tennis tournaments. When friends and relatives were asked details that they remember about him most, what first came to mind was how he ALWAYS offered a beer. While he was in the nursing home, a few friends came by to visit him. They recall following him into someone’s room, that wasn’t his, and them sitting down and he asking, “Do you want a beer?” His love for entertaining was like his love for generosity.

Robert's generosity wasn’t just from giving gifts, he gave his time, risked his life in being in the army, and he often offered his advice. He showered his wife and kids with gifts, he gave a free dental clinic on Saturdays, and he fought in World War 2. He tried to be in the Navy, but he failed the test because he was color blind. Also, whenever his friends’ kids were in a sticky situation, they would have to go talk to “Dr. Bob” so he could teach them a lesson and give them advice. Some frequent advice he gave was, “Birds of a feather flock together.”

The goodwill of Robert is one of his most evident traits. Getting along with people was an easy thing for him to do. He held a free clinic on Saturdays and all his patients loved him. The Thompsons, a close family friend to the Schamel's, had two daughters with Cystic Fibrosis. The medication the daughters were taking turned their teeth grey, so Robert took special training so that he could help them out. The receptionist at his dental practice said you would have thought he was god the way that his patients liked him so much! And of course, he was a great husband, father, friend, and grandfather.

Lastly, one of the other traits that make him a hero is his upbeat, positive, and fun attitude! No matter where he was, his motto was always, “Work hard, play hard.” There are countless stories about how he is so funny. For instance, his color blindness made him unable to match his clothes and eventually he got so tired of it that by the time he was in the nursing home, he wore his ‘girlfriends’ clothes. Even with dimensia, he was funny. When he woke up one morning, not knowing where he was and finding himself in his bed with his wife, he began questioning her. He asked how many kids she had. When she responded 'four', he said, “Me too! We should have them hang out together sometime!” He also suggested that they take it slow until they get to know each other better, even though they were already married!
Later on Barbara was diagnosed with breast cancer. Robert developed dimensia; consequently, these events brought them apart, because he was unable to remember things and she was weak. Unfortunately, Barbara couldn’t take care of him through this time so he was placed in a nursing home. She got weaker and weaker. Even though Robert was confused and wasn’t aware of what was going on, he still showed his devotion to her. Once when he and his roommates were singing in there singing circle, he stood up and said, “Barbara’s dying, I have to make sure our graves are together.” This is significant because Robert hadn’t seen Barbara in months and was beginning to forget who she was. In 1998, Barbara died. Robert broke his hip and couldn’t walk, and soon after was unable to do much other than chew, sleep, and breathe, but through this all he fought as long and hard as he could. He died April 5, 2006, a day before his birthday.

What made Robert a hero is his ability to have fun, his strength through hard times, his hospitality, his upbeat and fun personality, and nearly everything else about him. He was a great person; a husband, father, grandfather, dentist, and friend. Whenever his family, friends, or coworkers needed advice or help, he would be the first one to give it. Whenever they were disappointed because something didn’t work out he would tell them, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again.” Robert never gave up, just like he told everyone else not to.

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