Obituaries for Sept. 23, 2011

Union Democrat staff

William Schimmel Jr.

Sept. 21, 1944 - Sept. 19, 2011

Tuolumne resident William Schimmel Jr. died Monday at his home. He was 66.

Born in San Bernardino to William and Barbara Schimmel, he began working as a switchman for the Santa Fe Railroad after graduating from San Bernardino High School in 1963.

He went on to join the U.S. Army Special Forces, where he served with Project Omega in Vietnam as a radio operator and sergeant on joint U.S.-Montagnard six-man reconnaissance teams from 1964 to 65.

After completing his service, he returned to San Bernardino and joined the police department, where he worked as a patrolman, detective and sergeant. During this time he also continued his education, receiving his bachelor's degree in 1975 and master's degree in 1977 from Pepperdine University.

In 1979, he moved to Tuolumne, where he worked as a lineman for Pacific Telephone and then as a state correctional officer at the Baseline fire camp.

After his retirement, he worked for Twain Harte Tree Service.

He enjoyed being outdoors, backpacking, hiking, scuba diving, surfing, motorcycles, white water kayaking, wakeboarding, rock climbing, skydiving and snowboarding.

In 1971, he bought a hang gliding kit and taught himself how to hang glide.

During his life he climbed Yosemite's El Capitan and the Matterhorn in Switzerland, rafted the Futaleufu in Chile, and hiked the north and south rim of the Grand Canyon.

Mr. Schimmel is survived by his father and stepmother, William and Flo Schimmel, of San Bernardino; children, Steven Schimmel, of Oakland, Michael and Michelle Guthrey, both of Tuolumne, and Sheila Soderstrom, of Davis; granddaughter, Saylor Soderstrom, of Davis; and siblings, Jerry Schimmel, of Goshen, Ore., and Liz Gibson, of Severville, Tenn.

He was preceded in death by his mother, Barbara Schimmel.

A celebration of life is scheduled from 1 to 4 p.m. Oct. 1 at the Tuolumne County Sheriff's Posse Grounds in Jamestown.

Donations can be made to Interfaith Community Social Services, P.O. Box 5070, Sonora, CA 95370.

Heuton Memorial Chapel is handling arrangements.


CAMERON - Charles Cameron, 73, of Sonora, died Wednesday at his home. Terzich and Wilson Funeral Home is handling arrangements.

CONNER - Patricia Conner, 56, of Sonora, died Thursday at her home, Terzich and Wilson Funeral Home is handling arrangements.

GEHL - Fred Gehl, 97, of Sonora, died Wednesday at Tuolumne General Long-term Care Facility. Terzich and Wilson Funeral Home is handling arrangements.

SPERZEL - Harriet Sperzel, 95, of Sonora, died Wednesday at Avalon Care Center in Sonora. Heuton Memorial Chapel is handling arrangements.

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