Beloved mother, grandmother, Ingeborg Marie Shuler went Home on May 18, 2020. Finally Home, Inge is reunited with her dear husband of 70 years, Harry Hibbard Shuler, Sr.
Inge Shuler was born in Chicago, Illinois, on June 18, 1927, to her parents Martin and Katie Zahn. She grew up in the small town of Moline, Illinois, on the banks of the Mississippi River. An only child of hardworking immigrant parents, Inge was taught at an early age the importance of hard work and education. She worked diligently in school, an honor student with hopes of going to college. Her mother schooled her in the arts of cooking, cleaning, and sewing; however, the role Inge enjoyed most was that of her father's hunting and fishing partner. She always felt most at home in the outdoors, especially by the water.
Vivacious, pretty, and popular, Inge was gravely affected by the advent of WWII. (Indeed, her young picture for this memorial was taken on December 7, 1941, the day Pearl Harbor was bombed.) After her high school graduation and the end of the War, Inge looked forward to the move to California where International Harvester transferred her father. Never one to dawdle, Inge took secretarial courses in typing and shorthand (120 words per minute at top speed) while looking around at college prospects. When she was offered a job as an executive secretary to one of International Harvester's leaders, Inge jumped at the chance to earn her own money and contribute to the family coffers-and to travel. She worked hard, enjoyed life, and blossomed again in California.
Indeed, Inge was engaged when she met her future husband Harry Hibbard Shuler, Sr. at an office Christmas party hosted by her father for some of his employees, one of whom happened to be Harry's father, Vernon Shuler. It seems providential that his son Harry tagged along, home from USC where he was studying civil engineering on the GI Bill. Inge's engagement notwithstanding, Harry was smitten, and he won Inge's heart with his character, charm, and ambition. On April 16, 1950, Harry and Inge were married at Morris Chapel in Stockton, CA.
Harry and Inge moved around a bit as he worked as an engineer for San Joaquin County, then in the private sector for Nomelini Construction, and finally settled at the helm of his own company, Pacific Plumbing and Heating, Corporation. The young couple settled and built a home in Stockton, CA, near to Inge's parents and Harry's mother. (Harry's father passed in 1949, and Rose Shuler worked as an LVN in the nursery at Lodi Memorial Hospital. Yes, Rose Shuler went back to school after her husband's death in 1949 at the age of 51 and became a nurse to support herself. The Shulers know all about hard work and grit.)
Both Harry and Inge were wonderful parents. They welcomed 3 children: Janet, Julie, and Harry Jr. Their lives centered on their children. Inge was a "stay-at-home" mom, but was always involved in the lives of her children and community. When they were in elementary school, she helped start their school library at Tully C. Knoles. When her daughters were in Blue Birds and Camp Fire Girls, she was, of course, a group leader. (And when Harry's son became a Boy Scout, he was just as active with his son.) Even after Inge's girls left Camp Fire, Inge continued to serve and volunteer on its local board. Inge was also a wonderful cook: her pie crusts, her Sauerbraten and potato dumplings…: she had a gift, a refined palate and touch inherited from her mother Katie. She was an exuberant decorator-and we are not talking home furnishings. Every holiday was an occasion for Inge to change and brighten our landscape. Of course, Christmas was her centerpiece, and the Christmas tree had to be perfect. Every year Inge and Harry went searching for a flawless tree, and they failed to find it, so Harry would buy 2 trees. He would soak the trees as long as possible until it was time to create the perfect tree. On that day, Harry would study, measure, cut, hollow out, use iron rods, and telescope the two trees together into the quintessential Christmas tree. We called it an Ingeborg tree. It was Christmas; we named our gifts-this one for many years. Summer vacations were spent in Rio Del Mar or Aptos, Harry shepherding his family there, working during the week and joining them on the weekends of their usual two-week stay. Once again, Inge was by the water, and she was content. Early morning walks: hot chocolate at the sunken ship. Grandparents visiting, Digging for sand crabs, building sand castles. Inge having a chance to read. Harry back for the weekend teaching his children how to body surf. Good times at the ocean, her children's youth, passed on to her grandchildren. Sunsets and memories, care and endings-all God's majesty manifested in the ocean, the seashore: the landscape of our lives.
As their family grew up and went off to college, Harry's time was not just taken up by his company, but by giving back to his industry. He served as President of the San Joaquin Valley SMACNA Chapter, and in 1982 was elected as the President of California SMACNA. In Harry's role as an ambassador for his industry, Harry and Inge began to travel the world. Mom was traveling again; she thrived. (Inge never met a stranger. She would, quite literally, make friends in grocery store lines.) Harry spent much of their time abroad visiting with contemporaries, sharing and receiving trade practices and protocols from throughout the world. Mom was socializing, seeing the sights, shopping, and improving international relations. They traveled throughout North America, South America, Europe, China, Japan, and Australia.
Back at home, Harry again devoted his time to Pacific Plumbing and Heating Corporation, Inge to a new passion. Having always loved the outdoors and animals, Inge became a docent a Micke Grove Zoo. She had truly found her calling. She adored the animals, and she loved being around young children again. Inge volunteered for over 15+ years at the zoo, putting in almost 10,000 hours. She led elementary school classes through the zoo sharing her animal friends with eager, young souls. She often went out to the schools in their mobile unit. She especially loved handling and showing off Rosie the Boa constrictor to debunk scary myths about snakes to her nervous students. She and her compadres traveled the country to zoos and zoological conventions. She was in her element. Ultimately, Harry put together a dream vacation for his wife Inge. He took her to Kenya on African Safari. I don't think Harry could have given his wife a more precious gift than that adventure…, except maybe the house he designed and built for her in Lodi on the banks of the Mokelumne River. Inge lived by her life-giving water again. One of her favorite features of the home was the sunken conversation pit, which juts out at the back of the house. Here Inge had her morning coffee, read the morning paper, and watched her Riparian habitat wake up each day. With the sunrise, comes the sound of thousands of birds singing. The nocturnal raccoons crawling back to their dens. The beavers beginning their work. Her geese honking and swimming from their overnight coves and nests. For 34 years Harry and Inge shared this earthly home with God's creatures-so full of Joy they were. The last, almost 3 years without Harry, were hard for Inge. In the fall she became sick, and her family cared for her. It was difficult. But we are happy for our parents, grandparents: Inge and Harry are now both together again at Home.
Inge is preceded in death by her husband, Harry Hibbard Shuler, Sr.; her parents, Martin and Katie Zahn; her husband's parents, Vernon "Pops" and Rose Shuler; her brother-in-law, Vernon Shuler, Jr.; her very dear daughter-in-law, Jeanette Shuler; and her husband's niece, Meridith Shelstead. She is survived by her children, Janet Shuler (William Brewer), Julie Shuler, and Harry Shuler, Jr.; her grandchildren, Abby Hoover (Ryan), Rachel Roeschen (Joe), Harry Shuler III, Daniel Shuler, and Joseph Shuler; and her great-grandchildren, Madeline Hoover and Maximus Roeschen.
Harry and Inge's children and grandchildren owe so much to their parents and grandparents. They were happy and grateful to return the love they gave to all of us growing up. While one of the most difficult tasks in our lives-taking care of those who first took care of us; it is the Circle of Life as God designed it-we are grateful for the chance to say goodbye and see them onward. We all love Harry and Inge, miss Inge especially now: we carry them in our hearts and lives. They helped shape who and what we are as children of God. Godspeed, Inge Marie Shuler. We are so glad you are finally Home with Harry. We'll see you-Inge, Mom, Grandma-when we get Home.
Memorial services for Inge Marie Shuler will be private. God richly blessed our family with our mother and father, our grandparents. On behalf of the family, may God bless you as generously as He has us.
Published in Lodi-News Sentinel from Jul. 11 to Jul. 18, 2020.