GUILFORD, Maine — Nearly 90 people packed into the Mount Kineo Masonic Lodge on Tuesday afternoon to remember Sangerville’s Udo Schneider during a ceremony celebrating his life.
Friends, relatives, co-workers and employers told stories of how they best remembered Schneider and what kind of impact he had on their lives. Pastor Stephen Dean of the Guilford and Ripley United Methodists Churches led the gathering.
Schneider, 53, was shot to death by Michael Curtis at Hilltop Manor, an assisted living facility where Schneider worked, on Nov. 29. Curtis later was shot and killed by Maine State Police Trooper Jon Brown.
“We all have acquaintances. We have many, many acquaintances,” said Charlotte Hawkins of Dover-Foxcroft. “But how many true friends do you have that accepts you how you are, the way you are? He’s one of those people.”
Hawkins said her nephew Tom Ricker and his stepson Peter Price were killed in an accident in 2003. Schneider was there to console her.
“The minute he knew that this happened, I got a call from him,” said Hawkins. “He was kind of like my rock at that time. There was so much I could talk to him about and feel safe that it wasn’t going to be spread and more made out of it than it was. He was a very special person.”
Schneider grew up in Germany and served in the German army. He is survived by five children, three who live in Germany and two who live in Sangerville, and eight grandchildren.
Schneider’s employer, Chad Cloutier, talked about Schneider’s physical size and the size of his heart.
“He was a big man to me,” said Cloutier, CEO of Davis Long Term Care Group. “With a name like Udo, he just struck me as a man who could move mountains. One thing I noticed about him was his dedication. Not dedication to us as an organization, but a dedication to the residents that he deeply loved; his family, which he talked about all the time; his friends. He was dedicated to doing well and doing right in his life.”
After Cloutier concluded his speech, Hawkins spoke up about an early Christmas present.
“[Schneider] said to me, ‘You have to wait until Christmas to get your Christmas present. I got mine already,’” said Hawkins. “I said, ‘What do you mean you got yours?’ He’s laughing and he said, ‘I got a new plow truck [from work].’
“To every single person that really knew him… hugs. Did he give hugs? How are your ribs, Chad?” said Hawkins with a laugh.
Big hugs were a big topic during the gathering.
“I’ll tell you, I’ve never known anyone to have the hug he had,” said Hawkins. “You want to talk about strong. It’s like he’s going to break my ribs. He just loved people. It didn’t matter who you were, he loved people. And he loved life.”
Tom Carone of Sangerville stood and spoke about how polite Schneider was.
“He was always grateful. He always said ‘thank you’ and he was always polite all the time. Very considerate,” Carone said.
Neighbor and friend Carol Easler of Sangerville remembered the first time she saw Schneider. It was a scene she said she would never forget.
“The first time I saw him coming up the road [he had] a chain saw. I didn’t know what he was going to do with that chain saw, but it scared the devil out of my kids and I,” said Easler, who received laughs from the audience. “We didn’t know what he was doing because he was just cutting bushes. We thought he was going to do ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre.’”
As much as he liked being outdoors and being with his family, he also loved being an American, said Carone.
“He was very proud of his German heritage. He always flew the German flag and the American flag outside of his house,” said Carone. “He was very proud to be an American also.”
Paul Mosley, president of Penobscot Executive Search, talked about Schneider’s favorite day.
“One of the things he enjoyed the most though was the first Tuesday in the month of November when he could go and vote,” said Mosley.
Cloutier summed up how most seemed to think about Schneider.
“It didn’t matter if you met him once or 100 times, the first time it felt like you’ve known him forever,” said Cloutier. “That’s how he made me feel when I met him. For that, I’m eternally grateful.”