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Carolina Godiva Track Club

Remembering Gary Schultz

Gary Schultzby Patrick Bruer

Our Godiva Track Club friend Gary Schultz passed away on Friday, July 24th in his Durham home at the age of 81.

One day nearly six years ago, he called me up and suggested we get together for lunch, where he shared the news of his recent diagnosis with linguistic dementia and told me that he might soon be in need of some help. Over the next few years, I got to know Gary beyond the running.

Gary was born on November 18, 1938 in Los Angeles. He grew up in Chicago, and spent summers as a youth visiting northern Wisconsin, not too far from my in-laws’ cottage where Jane and I have gone since we were teenagers. We enjoyed sharing memories from our Wisconsin days.

Gary graduated from Chicago’s Steinmetz High School in 1956, then he served in the military. He once told me the story of the time his commanding officer named him the base’s “soldier of the day.” He related this with a sense of pride mixed with some lingering bemusement about how that ever happened to him.

Gary went on to the University of Chicago, where he receive his Bachelor of Science in Statistics in 1965, after which he began his career at IBM in the Research Triangle Park. In the early 1970’s he returned to school to earn a Master of Science in Computer Science from UNC-Chapel Hill.

While at Carolina, Gary wrote a time sharing operating system that served the Department of Computer Science for more than a decade. One of his course papers, A Stochastic Model for Message Assembly Buffering with a Comparison of Block Assignment Strategies, earned publication in the Journal of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), among the most prestigious peer reviewed journals in the field.

In a career of over 30 years with IBM, his work touched upon telecommunications programming and network protocols, mathematical modeling of data storage schemes, and the development of SNA, the company's proprietary systems network architecture.

Gary was a Renaissance man. Above all a scientist by vocation and outlook, his intelligence and curiosity shone through in all his varied pursuits. He was a serious reader; his personal library of books and journals would rival that of a small college in breadth of subject matter. He was a classicist who studied ancient Greek and Latin texts in the original. He also studied Romance languages. He was an expert chess player, engaging in extended matches via postcard against far away opponents. He wrote poetry, and filled the walls of his home with a variety of contemporary and ethnic art.

Gary at DCCAs he pursued the life of the mind, Gary also strove for a sound body.

He was a swimmer from his high school days in Illinois through masters competitions in North Carolina. He also participated in a few triathlons. But we all knew Gary as a runner and race walker who was a most valued member of our Godiva Track Club community.

For decades there was hardly a Godiva event in which Gary was not involved, as often as not as a volunteer or leader. He took over the Running Start Program after the untimely passing of Bruce “Coach Bubba” Koenig. Later, he took responsibility for directing Godiva’s Marathon Training Program from founders Sam Griffith and Ann Marie Mulhern.  He mentored hundreds of beginning runners and helped many others to achieve their long distance goals. In his retirement, he helped coach the distance runners at Carolina Friends School. All benefited from his generosity of spirit, infused with knowledge and leavened with his wry sense of humor.Gary with Running Start

Gary as Race DirectorHe served for many years as the race director the Geezer Pleezer, perhaps the most competitive of our Winter Series races. This combined his love of running with his penchant for statistics and mathematical modeling. Gary’s refinements of the Geezer Pleezer age/gender handicapping standards stood the test of time. He was also instrumental in devising the Eno Equalizer, the Winter Series event which tests quantitative estimation skills as much as athletic ones.

In time, he became the ideal candidate to serve as the club's historian and archivist. He was our institutional memory personified and defender of our traditions. He was the kind of individual who would fund expenses for a Godiva event out of his own pocket. He was the self effacing character who ran from the limelight. One of the few times he was anything but amiable was when we tried (and we did, many times) to give him an award for his prolific volunteer work. Service, he would say, is its own reward. Period, end of discussion.

In spending more time with Gary, it became apparent that he found comfort in nature, greatly enjoying time spent on the trails of Duke Forest and greenways of Chapel Hill, whatever the pace. He would feed the creatures that visited his wooded property, observing the animals and plants with silent fascination.

One spring day, Jane and I decided to take Gary for a walk on a Duke Forest trail near his home, probably the last one he took. As we got further into the woods, it became apparent that he was having trouble navigating over the rocks and roots. We were sweating bullets, worried that we might not get Gary back home without some catastrophe. We managed to retrace our steps out of the woods, across Mt. Sinai Road, practically to the front steps of Gary’s house when he spotted a bloom on a branch. Leaning to point it out to us, he took a tumble. Fortunately, there was no damage that a bandage couldn’t fix, and he came up smiling.

Another day, we had a talk across the dining room table, and I asked how he was feeling about his situation. Always inquisitive, he had studied his diagnosis and knew what would likely lie ahead for him. Moreover, he had a twin brother with Alzheimer's who at that point was much further along in the disease progression. But where I expected to sense some anxiety and perhaps more than a touch of depression, there was none. Gary smiled and turned the tables, ending up consoling me instead.

Finally, no recollections about Gary would be complete without simply saying that he loved his dogs. He shared his life and home with several lucky companions over the years. Whatever form paradise might take for others, I have a hunch that for Gary it would somehow involve being with his canine friends in spirit.

Gary was a quiet, kind and thoughtful man who will be missed by all with the good fortune to have known him. 

Please take a moment to read these tributes to Gary.