ALBERT SCHULTZ
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SCHULTZ ALBERT SCHULTZ Albert Schultz, 87, passed away on July 26, 2020, at home with his wife and children at his side. He was born in Philadelphia to George and Belle Schultz and was the youngest of four brothers. 1953 was the most consequential year of his life. That's when he met Susan on a blind date. They spent almost every day of the next 67 years together. If they weren't together, they wrote each other letters every day. Later in life, he wrote that while he thought himself an atheist, he wasn't entirely sure, because "I know for certain that God sent one of his angels" to share life with him. He earned his undergraduate degree at the University of Rochester on an NROTC scholarship. After serving in the Navy, summer work at Bell Labs and earning his PhD at Yale in 1962, he pursued a very successful career in Mechanical Engineering and Biomechanics. He loved teaching and research. He won awards for both from the U. of Illinois at Chicago and the U. of Michigan. In 1983, the U. of M. named him the Vennema Professor of Mechanical Engineering. He helped found and was the president of many professional organizations. In 1993, he was honored to be inducted into the National Academy of Engineering. As a pioneer in the young field of biomechanics, he authored many foundational papers related to the mechanics of idiopathic scoliosis, low back pain and mobility impairments in the elderly. He said that he was able to achieve what he did through a combination of biology, "plain dumb luck" and being born in the right place at the right time. He retired in 1999. He had many passions, including family, food and travel, which were always best enjoyed together. He was a lover of classical, or as he said "serious", music. Yet Susan was able to expand his horizons so that "serious" music somehow included the blues and the Beatles. We always enjoyed his tongue in cheek poems penned for family celebrations. While he had many other passions, his number one passion was doing everything with Susan. Family vacations were cherished. Whether together in the summer at a seashore, or a winter trip to somewhere warm and sunny, as long as his children and grandchildren were around him, he was happy and content. Albert and Susan have three wonderful children, Carl, Adam and Robin, and he leaves them, their spouses Lisa, Marta and Will, and eight grandchildren. Eleven years ago he wrote: "Who else has had a life more blessed than mine?" Despite declining health, his outlook never changed. We will miss him so much. A private service was held at home. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Albert's honor to the American Civil Liberties Union.A private service was held at home. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Albert's honor to the American Civil Liberties Union.

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Published in The Washington Post on Jul. 31, 2020.
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7 entries
August 6, 2020
Al took a chance on me in 1987 when he offered a research assitantship to a new graduate student who expressed an interest in biomechanics, but actually had no clue what he was getting in to. I was fortunate to for the opportunity as I quickly learned that Al was one of the pioneers in this new field and was very highly regarded, though you would never know it talking to him. Al was very modest and just genuinely loved what he was doing. He truly felt he could use his engineering skills to make a difference in orthopedics and later in aging/rehabilitation. He was certainly right. Further, iis impact came from the genuine approach he took to doing things right - being rigorous while keeping things simple and tractable, being exceptionally prepared at all times, presenting things clearly and most importantly, always treating others with respect and dignity. He was an awesome mentor and I learned a lot from just observing how he went about his business. I have continued in the biomechanics field and as an educator/researcher in academia. The example he set was a big part of the motivation. I am thankful for the chance to know Al, to learn from him and help continue his legacy. He will be missed!!
Darryl Thelen
Student
August 2, 2020
I was a young Assistant Professor when Al joined the Mechanical Engineering faculty. He became my friend, my mentor and my advocate. I owe much to his kindness, guidance and friendship. I was very surprised but happy for him when he announced his retirement. I have thought of him many times since that time and will continue to do so. He was a great teacher, researcher and role model. I miss him dearly.
Jeffrey L Stein
Coworker
August 1, 2020
As one of Al's many graduate students, my (then) young family and I benefitted greatly from his kind advice and guidance. When my plans to focus on a gear-head research topic were dashed, Al recruited me over to biomechanics - a field I regarded with suspicion until he convinced me that Newton's laws could still be rigorously applied, even to our squishy living bodies. In the classroom and the lab, he was an effective teacher with a deep well of experience. However, I will always be most appreciative of how he genuinely cared for the people around him. Al would regularly check in on me, sensing when I was floundering on my current dissertation chapter, and usually would succeed in giving me a good kick in the right direction. I was touched when Susan and Al not only invited us lowly grad students over to their beautiful house in Ann Arbor, but thought to give us a baby gift when our first child was born. Lori and I feel that our lives have been enriched by knowing Al, and we will miss him.
James Sprague
Student
August 1, 2020
Dr Schultz was the most influential teacher in my life. He was dedicated to bringing out the best in each of his students and I am always proud to have been a student in his lab for over 5 years at the University of Michigan. He wholeheartedly supported my transition from engineering to medicine and I will miss him tremendously. The many lives he touched including mine are all better because of him. God bless him and his family and may his soul rest in peace.
robert closkey
Student
July 31, 2020
I was a member of the UM Engineering College Executive Committee when I learned that Albert might be available to join our faculty. With the leadership of then Dean James Duderstadt and Associate Dean Charles Vest, a package was presented to Albert that he accepted, and as a bonus, he was able to bring his colleague James Ashton-Miller with him. This was one of the happiest days for me, and I might add, for the College Bioengineering Program. Over the years Albert showed us all how to successfully use elegant mathematical optimization methods to understand the complex ways the human vertebral column was mechanically loaded. His simulations provided clear evidence of how certain types of conditions could compromise the spine and raise the risk of injury. His support and advocacy for a national biomechanics association that would stress a high degree of science has endured to this day. Needless to say, he will be solely missed by us all.
Don Chaffin
Coworker
July 31, 2020
Jeffrey L Stein
Coworker
July 31, 2020
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