Fellow police officer and former Fenwick wrestling coach Sal Gamino ’95 paid tribute to his comrade in this eulogy, given at St. Vincent Ferrer Parish in River Forest this past Saturday.
By Sergeant Salvador Gamino, Berwyn Police Dept.
(Editor’s note: Berwyn, IL Police Officer, Glen Ellyn resident and Fenwick alumnus Charles Schauer was tragically killed on January 20, 2020.)
Thank you all for coming today to remember the life of Charles Andrew Schauer, who was taken from us so very suddenly. Chuck was a man beloved by all as evident by the great number of people in attendance these past several days.
I, Salvador Gamino, am a sergeant with the Berwyn Police Department. Chuck and I have been fellow officers for 10 years, but our relationship began so much earlier, when I was his freshman high school wrestling coach at Fenwick in Oak Park. Chuck has been my friend through all of these years, and as our relationship grew, I actually came to think of him as family.
Chuck was born on January 25, 1986, ironically 34 years ago today. He is survived by his wife Jessa, son and daughter Charlie and Kyleigh, his parents Charles and Mary, and his sister Kathleen. He attended grammar school here at Saint Vincent Ferrer, and then graduated from Fenwick High School. He attended Western Illinois University before enlisting in the Marines to serve our country where he earned the rank of Lance Corporal. He was deployed overseas during Operation Iraqi Freedom serving our country with honor. After concluding his military career, he became a Police Officer with the Berwyn Police Department. Chuck wore many hats during the course of his police career. He was a Patrol Officer, Evidence Technician, Field Training Officer and a Detective.
Over the past days, we have probably heard or read the phrase “one in a million” being used to describe Chuck. From the bottom of my heart, nothing could be truer. Chuck had no enemies. No one ever had a bad thing to say about him.
Chuck and Jessa met as young undergraduates. His military commitments, that took him overseas twice, kept them from having a traditional courtship, as they were apart while he served our country. Despite this, they thankfully persevered and later married, and their union gave Chuck his greatest joys in life: Charlie and Kyleigh.
His children were his world. A lot of new dad’s shy away from their kids in the ‘baby stage.’ Not Chuck! Jessa said he loved every part of fatherhood. He would spend every day off with the kids. When he found out that Charlie was on the way, he was overjoyed. He couldn’t wait to meet his son. He and Charlie were best friends. Chuck and Charlie truly share a love for baseball. Jessa said they spent hours together playing and practicing. Because of Chuck’s military and police background, he was pretty strict with Charlie. Chuck was big on manners, rules, and respect. Then, along came Kyleigh. Strictness went out the window. This little girl stole her daddy’s heart. Jessa said that Kyleigh had him wrapped around her finger. Kyleigh was his social media star. He would often post his videos of the ‘interviews with Kyleigh’ that he took and the ridiculously cute things that she did and said – these of course brought a smile to everyone that saw them. Chuck truly had so much love for his children. He talked about them to anyone who would listen.
People that are described as generous and caring are said to be willing to ‘give you the shirts off their backs.’ Well, Chuck did one better. He literally gave his friend the pants that he was wearing. One day, when Chuck was ending his shift at the police department, another officer had a wardrobe malfunction, and the zipper and button on his duty pants broke, rendering the pants unsuitable to be worn in public. Chuck went down to the locker room, changed his clothes so he could give his fellow officer the pants that he was wearing so that the other officer could finish his shift. With Chuck, stories like that are common.
His sister, Kathleen, described him as a protective and loving brother. The kind of big brother that was selfless, dependable and, occasionally, a bad influence. She told me the story about one time when their parents went out of town and left Chuck in charge. Chuck swiftly planned a party at their house, leaving no detail unturned. He even had a cleaning service scheduled to come the day after the party. He spread the word, and it travelled fast. The administration at Fenwick heard about the party, and let’s just say strongly ‘urged’ Chuck to cancel it. I chuckled at the story, and asked Kathleen how long their parents were out of town. Before she could answer, his mom shouted from the background “ONE NIGHT. We were gone ONE night! You two made it sound like we were gone for a week.”
As much as Chuck was cut from the same cloth as his father, he was like his mother, Mary, in many ways. His selflessness was a trait that he learned from her. Mary and Chuck would communicate without even speaking. Mary was deeply attuned to her son. She could gauge his mood just by looking at him. They were just in tune with each other on a deep emotional level.
As a child, Chuck was a sports fanatic. In grammar school, he spent all of his time caddying, riding bikes, playing sports and going to Cubs games. In high school, he spent his time playing football and wrestling, where he found his niche. His friends remember him as a talker. He turned a quick phone call into a 45-minute conversation about who knows what. Kathleen reminded me that he would often interrupt his own stories with his laughter. It made me smile, because I could remember that sound, that child like laugh that you couldn’t escape. That’s who Chuck was! He had a joy for life that infected everyone around him.
As most of you know, Chuck was a diehard Cubs fan. His family has been season-ticket holders for decades. Chuck spoke often of childhood memories attending Cubs games with his father at Wrigley Field, and his excitement in making the same memories with his own son. When Mr. Schauer passed down ownership of the season tickets, Chuck took on some partners to split up and reduce the overall costs. As luck would have it, in 2016, the Cubs made it to the World Series. We weren’t the super fans that Chuck was. We ticket-holders were very excited with the prospect of selling our highly coveted World Series tickets for profit – but not Chuck. We thought that he was crazy not to sell his tickets. Instead, he told us, we were the ones that were crazy. He was going to attend the World Series with his father and see their beloved Cubs win the championship. Taking money for his tickets was never even a thought for Chuck. The Cubs eventually went on to win the World Series. For years, we would tease him about his lost financial opportunity. But now, as I stand here, it is clear that Chuck was right. He knew what mattered! He chose correctly. He chose to make memories; he chose family. This was Chuck, a family man to his core.
No one doubted that he would follow in the footsteps of his hero, his father. When it came to the job, no one loved police work more than Chuck. Many of us here today can personally attest that modern policing is difficult. Yet Chuck did not feel that way. He loved almost every part of his job. No task was too tedious, no lead was too thin and no effort was futile. He cared, and I mean he truly cared about right and wrong, good and bad. As his sergeant, I knew that I could depend on him; I knew that I could trust him. He was the most dedicated police officer that I have ever known.
Obviously, Chuck lived his own personal dream. Many often fantasize about what we will become in life, but he lived it. Every aspiration that he ever had, he fulfilled. He was a Fenwick graduate, a Marine, a Police Officer and a family man. All of his life’s dreams had come to fruition.
In closing, I’d like to share this poem with all of you:
There are heroes who walk among us
Never looking for glory or praise
They don’t seek recognition
For their thoughtful, caring ways.
Living lives of deep commitment
Providing for those they hold dear
Steadfast with a quiet strength
Through times of laughter and tears.
You are a person like that to me
The most selfless man by far
So Chuck, I’d like to thank you
For being the hero that you are.
Charles Schauer, you dedicated your life to others. You lived for family and friends. You lived for your job. Goodbye my brother, you will be missed. You are loved, and you will never be forgotten.