Palm Desert, Calif. - Richard F. Schneller, 90, passed away Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2013, at his home in Palm Desert.
Schneller was born in New York City, the son of Julius and Helen (Efros) Schneller. His only sibling, Marjorie, died in 2007. He spent his first 13 years in Plainfield, N.J. The family moved to Essex in 1935, where his parents relocated The Verplex Company, manufacturers of lampshades. Schneller graduated from Mount Hermon School and Yale University
with a bachelor's degree. During World War II
, he served with the Amphibious Forces of the U.S Navy, participating in several major South Pacific D-day Island Invasions.
His wife of 56 years, Nancy (Suisman) Schneller, predeceased him in 2002.
He leaves his loving wife, of recent marriage, Mary Patricia (Conley) Schneller; three daughters, Deborah Pepper of Amsterdam, Holland, Dr. Juliet VanEenwyk of Olympia, Wash., and Marie Palmer of Charlton, Mass.; three sons-in-law; six grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.
Following his military discharge, Schneller went into the family business, becoming president in 1952. In addition to lampshades, the company added decorative home lighting and wire merchandising display racks, as well as factory locations in Scranton, Pa. and Pasadena, Calif. The company was bought by U.S. Industries in 1970.
During his daughter's early years, the family enjoyed sailing and skiing. Richard and Nancy were members of the Old Lyme Country Club, Tumble Brook Country Club and Charter Members of The Old Saybrook Racquet Club. Schneller served as chairman of the Essex Democratic Town Committee, 1971-1978, was a member of the Essex Board of Finance, past member and chairman of the Regional District # 4 Board of Education, trustee of the University of Connecticut, 1958-1965, and a former trustee of the Connecticut Conservation Association, Middlesex Hospital, Connecticut College, Yale-New Haven Hospital, Mount St. John's School and the Middlesex County Y.M.C.A.
He served as the public member from Connecticut on the executive committee of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. He was the charter president of the Essex Rotary Club
and founding treasurer of the Essex Community Fund. Schneller also served on the Board of the Goodspeed Opera House since 1973, during which he filled terms as president and chairman. Currently he is an honorary life trustee of the Goodspeed, as well as a trustee emeritus of Connecticut College. The former Senate Majority Leader served five terms in the Connecticut State Senate from 1975 to 1984 representing Connecticut's 20th Senatorial District. During his Senate tenure he served successively as senate chairman of the Legislature's State and Urban Development Committee (1975-1976), Education Committee (1977-1978), Appropriations Committee (1979-1980), and Senate Majority Leader (1981-1984).
Funeral services will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 10, 2013, at Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek, 55 East Kings Highway, Chester. Burial will follow in the Riverview Cemetery in Essex with Full Military Honors.
Memorial contributions in his name may be sent to Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek, P.O. Box 438, Chester, CT 06412 and The Goodspeed Opera House, P.O. Box A, East Haddam, CT 06423.
To share a memory of Dick or to leave a condolence for his family, please visit www.rwwfh.com
Arrangements by the Robinson, Wright & Weymer Funeral Home in Centerbrook.