Karl C. Schantz of Odessa died at Hospicare in Ithaca on March 8, his 79th birthday.
Karl was an artist, teacher and community-builder throughout his life. He was born in East Greenville, Pennsylvania, the youngest of 11 children of Allen Schantz and Katie Wasser Schantz. After military service as a medical technician, Karl attended the Philadelphia Museum School of Art (now University of the Arts), becoming the first member of his family to graduate from college. While he was a student, he met and married Helen Nasmith and began teaching art in public schools before completing his degree in 1955.
Karl taught in elementary schools for 25 years, mainly in the Pennsbury School District, where he also served as art coordinator. Throughout his career, he worked to improve students’ learning experiences. For example, in the late 1960s he initiated flexible scheduling for art classes so that students had longer periods to work on their projects.
Karl and Helen were original residents of Concord Park in Bucks County, one of the first intentionally racially integrated communities in Pennsylvania. While raising a family of four with Helen, Karl was active in the civic life of the community, especially as a volunteer for children’s recreational programs. Graduate courses in ceramics prompted him to set up his own pottery studio in his home. During his years in Pennsylvania, Karl exhibited and sold his pottery as a member of the Bucks County Guild of Craftsmen and taught ceramics to children and adults.
At the age of 50, Karl relocated his family to upstate New York. Karl and Helen, their daughter Sarah and her husband Eric Hilton, and Concord Park friends Frank and Caroline Pineo started a new communal living venture on the site of a former farm in Odessa. There, Karl established his own business, “Mid-Lakes Pottery.” He sold his work at the Handwork Cooperative Craft Store in Ithaca and at craft shows throughout the region. Along with building his own house in Odessa and heating it with wood he harvested, Karl grew vegetables and fruit on the property and made wine, living out his beliefs about conserving resources and serving as a steward of the land.
He was an early proponent of civil rights—supporting local efforts to integrate other communities while he lived in Concord Park and attending national vigils and marches for racial equality. He also counseled conscientious objectors during the Vietnam War and worked for nuclear disarmament. As a young teacher he was often called on to justify his actions and beliefs. The values that he and his wife shared were nourished by a long association with the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in Southampton, PA, and in Ithaca.
When symptoms of Parkinson’s disease made it impossible for him to continue producing pottery, Karl turned to watercolor painting and paper sculpture, and finally to oil painting, using a palette knife. His paintings were exhibited in group shows at the Trumansburg Conservatory of Fine Arts and at the Community School of Music and Art in Ithaca in 2005, and in joint shows with his grand-daughter Erin Schantz-Hilton at Moosewood Restaurant and at the Leidenfrost Vineyards in 2006.
Karl greatly inspired his family and many others with his creativity, humor and strong spirit, despite being afflicted with Parkinson’s disease for 20 years and more recently with cancer. In the last weeks of his life, he completed his final painting, and received a note of thanks from a former student, one of many such tributes over the years to a well-loved teacher.
He was preceded in death by sisters Viola Schantz, Marian McAlpine and Betty Amenheuser; brothers Clifford, Lawrence, Ralph, Herbert, William and Russell; and granddaughter Lila Schantz. He is survived by his wife of almost 55 years, Helen; his brother Earl of Seminole, Florida, and Canton, PA; his daughters Sarah Schantz of Odessa, Faith Schantz of Pittsburgh, and Karen and Jane Schantz of Ithaca; grandchildren Erin and Kyle Schantz-Hilton, Asa Fox, and Beyvan Schantz; step-grandchildren Matthew and Molly Bargar and Elizabeth Bargar-Talmadge; and sons-in-law Eric Hilton, Tom Pandaleon, and Alan Bargar; as well as nieces and nephews.
A memorial service will be held at 2:00 p.m. on March 24th at the Trumansburg Conservatory of Fine Arts, 5 McLallen Street. Memorial contributions for pottery and art for the Hospicare Residence may be sent to Hospicare and Palliative Care Services of Tompkins County, Inc., 172 E. King Rd., Ithaca, N.Y., 14850
Page submitted by: Joseph L. Sibley, Director