Ralph Alfred Schuler died peacefully at his home in River Forest on July 13, 2021, in the company of his wife, sons and daughters. He loved and pushed them all and wanted everyone to know that his parents, Ralph and Martha, started by loving and pushing him.
A career educator, he taught high school history first at DePaul Academy and then for countless years at East Leyden High School. Besides teaching and being incredibly involved as a teachers union negotiator, he coached high school tennis for both boys and girls. When he retired, he was chairman of the History Department.
He raised his family in the same home he grew up in on Lombard Avenue in Oak Park. He attended Ascension and Fenwick, but all his kids and grandchildren attended Oak Park and River Forest High School. He loved the south Oak Park neighborhood because of its proximity to Barrie Park for his kids, Famous Liquors on Roosevelt Road for himself, and La Majada restaurant for everyone.
His passions besides history and teaching were tennis, poetry and reading. He instilled that same passion for tennis and the Oak Park Tennis Club for many family members and friends. His poetry, which did not always rhyme, was most often composed in Nags Head, North Carolina and usually after a couple of frosty beers. He loved his reading group, the Old Bulls, and their discussions. One of his favorite quotes was, “Don’t let a few facts get in the way of a good story.” His stories were as legendary as his jokes were bawdy. No story would be complete without a mention of his lifelong best friend, Don Gancer. Ralph and Don met at Ascension School and were still sharing beers just days before he left us. He had way too many friends to mention but he did want a shout-out to his best man, Terry McCarthy.
His wife Donna was the love of his life. They shared many interests, their top priority being their five children, whom they exposed us to historical places, battlefields, presidents’ homes, great music, copious amounts of food, great friends and mentors and most importantly their love for the ocean and Nags Head, North Carolina, where his children and most of his grandchildren are headed for over the 50th time this summer.
He was compassionate, interesting, funny, an incredible host, a great listener, a better storyteller, an advocate for civil rights, and a prolific White Sox fan.
His last White Sox game was won in the 10th inning and he celebrated with ice cream.
Ralph is survived by his wife, Donna Rae; his sister, Jane Cutt; his children Rich, Laura (John) Reardon, Bill, Stephen (Mary Jo) and Stacy (Eric) Wettstein; his 11 grandchildren, Matt, Nate and Ellen (Schuler), Keith, Audrey and Caroline (Reardon), Andrea and Ryan (Schuler) and Julia, Henry and Anna (Wettstein); and his great grandchild, Presley Reardon.
He will be remembered at a celebration of life in late August at the Oak Park Tennis Club, where great stories will be told, memories shared, and of course, a little tennis played. He will be watching.
In lieu of flowers please see below links for a few charities that he supported.