John “Skip” Schwellenbach (1924-2013)

I knew next to nothing about my father’s father. I knew his name. I knew he liked golf and fishing. I didn’t know how old he was, although now that I do, I suppose it’s safe to say that longevity runs in both sides of my family. Which is good. Unless you’ve watched someone age and die over several years, in which case you might favor an earlier expiration date. All of what I know comes from this obituary, which was e-mailed to me this morning, and was pulled from the Salinas Californian. It’s factual to state that my grandfather was survived by me, though there are probably people–friends, golfing buddies, colleagues–who are more deserving of the title of his survivor.

I guess I wish I’d known him better, though family circumstances and my own introverted tendencies and social awkwardness made this all but impossible. I’m left to wonder whether I’m like him, how I’m like him, what he thought of me, whether he thought of me, and whether he ever contemplated how little he knew of me.

This is what the Californian had to say, most of which I didn’t know:

John “Skip” Schwellenbach, while surrounded by his family, was peacefully taken to the pastures of Heaven on SCA014432-1_20130722Saturday, July 20, 2013, at the age of 89. Skip was born April 30, 1924 in South Dakota, to John and Gladys Schwellenbach.

He and his family worked their way out to California in the 1930s. Following his graduation from Chico High School, Skip served as a Naval Seabee during World War II in the South Pacific and Alaska. He was honorably discharged at the end of the war.

While attending Chico State, Skip lettered in and became captain and quarterback of the football team and played shortstop and center field in baseball. He graduated from Chico State in 1951 and was later inducted into the Athletic Hall of Fame. During this time, Skip met Dorothy Dickenson, whom he married on June 10, 1949 in Oroville.

He continued his education at Chico State, receiving a Masters Degree in Mathematics. Skip’s first teaching position was at Watsonville High as a math teacher and football and baseball coach. In 1956, he became a math professor at Hartnell Community College where he also continued to coach the football team that won multiple league championships. Following his retirement as Dean of Agriculture School in 1984, he continued to enjoy his hobbies.

Skip loved fishing and camping trips to Alaska and Klamath River with family and friends, poker with his buddies, coaching the downtown Merchants little league team, and golfing at Corral de Tierra where he was president from 1988 to 1989. He was also a loyal fan to the 49ers and Giants, cheering them on through the torture with his family. Skip will be greatly missed as a husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, and friend, but we celebrate Heaven gaining an exceptional golfer, fisherman and man.

He was preceded in death by his son, Johnny; brothers, Bud and Eugene; and sister, Mavis.

He is survived by wife of 64 years, Dorothy; children, Jan, Jim (Jane), Don (Emily), and Patty (Pat) Marchello; and grandchildren, Brett and Heather Dang; Ashley, Joel, Sierra, Skye, and Orion Schwellenbach; Blake and Samantha Schwellenbach; and Jennifer and Stephanie Marchello.

Skip’s friends are invited to attend a Memorial service on Thursday, July 25, 2013 at 1:30 p.m., at First Presbyterian Church, 830 Padre Dr., Salinas, CA 93901.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Skip’s honor to your favorite charity.


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