The world lost a great man on April 11, when Dr. John Schneider, known as Jack, Dad and GranJack to his family and friends, passed away after a brief illness. I have spent 95 amazing years with us and will be greatly missed.
Jack was a true son of Austin. He was born in 1927 and grew up swimming in Barton Springs, riding his horse around Travis Heights, and delivering groceries for the Schneider Store, his family’s dry goods business at the corner of Second and Guadalupe streets. I have attended Stephen F. Austin High School and the University of Texas. He watched the last great flood of the Colorado River, which devastated Austin, and told stories about watching Lake Travis fill up after Mansfield Dam was completed in 1942. His only regret was being born too late to have ridden along the Chisolm Trail like his favorite characters in Louis L’Amour novels.
As the grandson of immigrants, Jack wanted to show his love for his country by joining the United States Navy in 1944. His training as a Navy Corpsman was his first job in medicine. He returned to the University of Texas on the GI Bill after leaving active duty in 1946. He was the first in his family to attend college, and graduated Phi Betta Kappa in 1949. He attended Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans. He interned in urology at Philadelphia General Hospital from 1952-53, followed by a residency at the prestigious Mayo Clinic from 1953-56. He was a surgeon at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston for two years before he returned to Austin in 1958 to open his own medical practice.
When taking a month-long break from medical duties in 1953, Jack was home in Austin when his sister Frances introduced him to Eleanor Luckett, Sweetheart of the University of Texas. They were married one year later.
Jack and Ellie were best friends and partners in everything they did. They always enjoyed one another’s company and loved every moment of their 68 years together. At a special mass to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary, the priest asked them to renew their vows in front of their family. Jack replied, “No thank you, I’m still good with the original ones I made.” He often told his grandchildren that the secret to a good marriage was to never go to bed angry with one another, but that it also helped to be married to someone who rarely got angry and was so nice all the time.
Jack and Ellie had six children, 20 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren (so far.) As a doting parent and grandparent, “GranJack” loved to talk about his family to anyone who would listen. He was an early adopter of cell phone technology and made brief, but entertaining, phone calls to his children and grandchildren all day long. He was most happy at family gatherings where he could tease his grandchildren, tell jokes with his “boys,” and be doted on by his “girls de el.”
His circle of friends was wide and deep. He could be found eating breakfast with his buddies at the library in Garfield, chatting with the guys at Bert’s BBQ during lunch, or telling stories with other veterans during his monthly WWII meetings. He made friends everywhere he went. He would introduce himself with a handshake and start conversations that would often lead to years’ long friendships.
His passion for medicine and being a doctor was Jack’s true calling. It was his hobby and his vocation. I have never stopped learning and studying. He purchased cutting-edge equipment on his own dime and would donate it to the hospital after seeing demonstrations at medical conventions. A visit to his office often meant you waited well past your appointment time. But once he had you in the examination room, Jack’s attention was on you for as long as he was needed. He visited patients at home, treated multiple generations of families, and was known to show up at the hospital late at night to check on a worried or scared patient.
No patient ever went home without having Jack’s personal phone number and he always said, “If I’m not available, my wife Ellie can help you.” A testament to the respect and commitment he showed others is the fact that many of his employees worked for him for more than 20 years.
A voracious reader with eidetic memory, Jack loved history and exchanged books with like-minded friends after his retirement and move to the Querencia at Barton Creek. He was always enthusiastic about learning a new subject and meeting someone who was a specialist in his or her field of him. Both Ellie and Jack thrived at the Querencia and felt they were surrounded by the most interesting people.
Over the years Jack joined and was honored by many organizations. He was proud to have been the Chief of Staff at St. David’s Hospital in Austin, President of the Texas Association of GU Surgeons, President of the Texas Urologic Society, Travis County Medical Society Executive Board, Vienna Austria Medical Society, the Advisory Council for the School of Information at the University of Texas, and the Chancellor’s Council Executive Committee at the University of Texas.
Jack was a devoted Catholic. He was a member of the Knights of Columbus, and he received a Papal appointment to the Equestrian Order of Knights of the Holy Sepulcher.
Jack is survived by his wife, Ellie Luckett Schneider; son, John, and his wife, Mary Pat, of Austin; Son, James, and his wife, Mary Frances, of Austin; daughter Mary Schneider Pitts, and her husband, Will, of Austin; ella’s daughter Phyllis and her husband ella John Russell of Winnetka, Illinois; and daughter, Catherine Schneider, of Austin. He was preceded in death by his oldest daughter, Frances Schneider Mertz, and remained close to her husband Len Mertz and his wife, Trish, of San Angelo, Texas.
In lieu of flowers Jack’s family would be honored with gifts to the John P. Schneider Excellence Endowment for Annual Lectureship at the University of Texas https://give.utexas.edu/?menu=OGPGL**
and The Society of Saint Vincent de Paul https://ssvpusa.org/donate/
The funeral will be held at St. John Neumann Catholic Church on Saturday, April 23 at 12:30 pm Reception following at the church’s event center, Morris Hall. https://sjnaustin.org/
Remembrances may be shared at www.wcfish.com.
Posted online on April 15, 2022
Published in Austin American Statesman