Otto L. Schumacher

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  • "Whenever I think of Otto, I think of an ear to ear smile,..."
    - Erinn Howell
  • "Diana- Otto and I were fellow Geological Engineering..."
    - Thomas Lien
  • "I could always count on Otto to talk to the teachers in the..."
    - Ernie Gilmour
  • "I worked at the Bureau of Mines back in the early 1980's..."
    - Christine Dolle
  • "Truly an inspiration. I loved that guy and it was an honor..."
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Otto Schumacher, age 76, died at his home in Spokane, Washington on Thursday, September 27, 2018, surrounded by loving family. Otto was born in St. Paul, Minnesota to Joseph and Gladys Schumacher and grew up in the house his father built on Summit Avenue in South St. Paul, Minnesota. Summit Avenue, perched high above the Mississippi River and adjacent to “The Ravine”, where the neighborhood gang hunted agates and spent hours playing out fantasies of wild adventure, fostered a lifelong love of the natural world and a yearning for adventure.

This sense of adventure, a patriotic call to serve his country through science, and a love of nature led Otto to enroll in the University of Minnesota and later the University of New Mexico for degrees in Geological Engineering and Geology and onto a passionate love of a career in Mining and Geology. He was highly accomplished and respected in his field and among his colleagues, not just for his work, but for his kindness, intelligence and rational thinking. His career led him to multiple locations including Michigan, Arizona, Germany, Idaho, New Mexico, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, and Washington, where he met many of his closest friends and colleagues. Among his multitude of accomplishments was participating in planning for the Wild and Scenic designation for the Missouri River Breaks region in central Montana while employed by the BLM; working alongside miners in Wallace, ID, San Manuel, AZ and Bad Grund, Germany; working with the Bureau of Mines Mineral Availability section; acting as President of the Northwest Mining Association; and taking a leap of faith to start his own mining cost analysis company, Western Mine Engineering. He grew that business from a basement office to a company respected on every continent and still in business after 35 years.

His book, Magnificent Journey, a Geologic River Trip with Lewis and Clark through the Upper Missouri River Breaks was a labor of great love for Otto who lived it and wrote it with his good friend and mentor, Dr. Lee Woodward of the UNM.

While his career was impressive, his greatest accomplishment was that of a devoted family man. In 1965, while working at the San Manuel mine near Tucson, AZ, he met his wife of 52 years, Diana, with whom he fell in love immediately and eternally. After a six month working vacation in Germany, then travelling through Europe in a VW Bug with just a tent, they settled down and raised a family of three girls, Jill, Robyn and Erin. Otto shared his love of nature and travel with his wife and children and provided steady, compassionate guidance until the day he died. One of his greatest joys was time spent with his grandchildren, Dylan and Lyndsi.

Though Otto lived for 35 years with periods of poor health due to cancer, he chose not to be defined by his limitations, but rather pursued his love of learning and adventure despite those limitations. His thoughtful conversation, spontaneous discussions of local geology, mischievous sense of humor, and ability to make all feel welcome and valued will be greatly missed. He is survived by his wife Diana Schumacher, his daughters Jill (Steven) Streeter, Robyn (Kim Lan Tisdale) Schumacher, and Erin (Stevie Stephens) Schumacher, his grandchildren, Dylan and Lyndsi Streeter, and his sister Corinne Person, as well as many much loved extended family members.

A celebration of life will be held October 19, 2018 at the Kalispell Golf and Country Club, 2010 West Waikiki at 11:00 am.
Published in Spokesman-Review from Oct. 3 to Oct. 9, 2018
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