Donald Ray Schaack passed away September 1, 2021 at the age of 84. He lived an amazing life filled with family, friends, community, and of course, love.
He was born in Percy, IL to Devona and Arnold Schaack and raised in Steeleville, IL, where he made the first of many life-long friends. A devoted Lutheran, Don attended Valparaiso University where he met his wife Wilma Jean Bartelt. Willie and Don started their love for each other and of travel with a somewhat secretive trip to Cuba in 1959, “chaperoned” by Willie’s older sister. They married in Walla Walla, WA later that year. They settled in Mascoutah, IL and raised three daughters. Don began what would become a long career at the First National Bank of Mascoutah. He started as a teller and eventually served as President, Director and Trust Officer until the bank ultimately merged with Magna Bank, NA (now Regions Bank.) He served as Senior VP until his retirement nearly 40 years later.
To say that Don was an active member of his community would be a spectacular understatement. He was a long-time member of the Mascoutah Chamber of Commerce and Mascoutah Lions Club, serving as President of each of these organizations. Don chaired the Gateway East Jr. Achievement Board and was a member of the Belleville United Way Board, Mascoutah Development Committee, School Board, School District Treasurer, and served as City Treasurer. He was a Deacon at Zion Lutheran Church and as a young man also served as an US Air Force Reserve Officer. He served as President of the St Clair/Monroe County Bankers Federation, and as Director of the Illinois Bankers Association, and, not surprisingly, was a Mascoutah “Person of the Year.” Meanwhile, he managed to develop and nurture many more life-long friendships and be a fully-involved dad to his three girls.
Don did “slow down” a bit after his retirement, when he and Willie moved to White Salmon, WA, by leaving his career in banking behind.
Service to his community continued as they became active members of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Hood River, OR. He quickly became involved in the White Salmon/Bingen Lions club and ultimately was named the 2016-17 Melvin Jones Fellow for dedicated humanitarian services for the Lions Clubs International Foundation. After Willie’s death in 1998, he became involved with the hospital, serving as a Skyline Hospital Board Commissioner from 2002-2019 and was on the Hospital Governing Boards Committee for the state of Washington from 2010-2012. Of course, there is a “meanwhile” in this time period, too. He added to his repertoire of friends and started dating again – and after a 5 year courtship, Don finally popped the question. Carol Claussen-Harris and Don married in 2005 and enjoyed 16 years together, including many travel adventures, to such places as the Galapagos and Europe.
For those that knew him though, these lists of accomplishments don’t come close to describing his real impact on his communities. Here are a few examples of his community service in action:
* Don organized free community concerts in the park in Mascoutah every summer, feeding his love of Big Band music.
* He regularly took on the task of cooking for crowds, large or small – from being the “chef” for his fishing buddies to frying huge batches of onion rings for anyone who would ask. He loved to cook for people.
* Don helped to organize an annual canoe/camping trip for about 40 Mascoutah couples. (Including having T-shirts made: Der Gurmetliche Kanu Ferien – the perfect canoe vacation.)
* He loved a parade and In Mascoutah, you would see him dressed as a clown throwing out candy, while in White Salmon, he was riding in his red convertible. But always – there would be candy.
* Taking full advantage of his build, he dressed as Big Bird at the annual Mascoutah Santa Breakfast, much to the embarrassment of his daughters.
* In White Salmon, he helped start the children’s Easter Egg hunt. Of course, this started every year with the day after Easter, by shopping ALL the post-Easter sales. He loved a bargain.
* If you lived near my dad in either White Salmon or Mascoutah, you probably bought a Christmas tree from him at the Lion’s tree lot.
* Above all, he was a super role model for his kids showing them not only what it means to be part of a loving family, but also how to be a responsible, caring member of a community. It didn’t matter if you were the teller of the bank or the President, you always pitched in no matter the job, and he strongly believed that the only place to be on a Sunday morning is in church.
He is already missed. He was preceded in death by his wife of nearly 40 years Wilma “Willie” Schaack. He is survived by his wife Carol Schaack, his three daughters Deb Schaack (Jutta Schneider), Lorie Waehner (Eric Waehner) and Kathy Schaack (Peter Rieck), his sister and brother-in-law Mary Jane and Tom Waltemate and some of the greatest joy’s of his life his three grandchildren Erin Waehner (Patrick McDermott), Katie Waehner-Keller (Justin Keller) and Daniel Waehner, as well as many beloved cousins and in-laws.
In lieu of flowers donations may be made to the White Salmon/Bingen or Mascoutah Lion’s Club; Skyline Hospital Foundation, Immanuel Lutheran Church – Hood River, or the Alzheimer Association. There will be a celebration of life in Mascoutah in 2022.