Obituary: Rev. George Schler

Longtime Pilgrim, great grandfather, volunteer, man of faith


George Schler died peacefully the evening of August 7, 2017 at Pilgrim Place’s Health Services Center in Claremont. He was 98.

Mr. Schler was born on a farm near Boonville, Missouri on February 22, 1919, the middle child in a family of 11. His parents, Anton and Catherina (Gerhardt) Schler, were first generation Americans of German descent. Mr. Schler was the first in his family to graduate from high school and to attend college. He earned degrees from Elmhurst College in Elmhurst, Illinois in 1941 and Eden Theological Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri in 1944.

In June 1944 he married the love of his life, Elsie Saeuberlich, a graduate of the Evangelical Deaconess School of Nursing in St. Louis. He was ordained in the home church of his childhood, St. Johns United Church of Christ in Boonville, Missouri, and soon after heeded a call to his first congregation, St. Paul United Church of Christ in Marshall, Oklahoma.

From there, Rev. Schler touched the lives of congregants at churches in Arrow Rock, Missouri; Ohlman, Illinois; Wentzville, Missouri; Westminster, Colorado and Long Beach, California.

Rev. Schler welcomed congregants to come as they are and was known for bringing the best out in everyone he encountered, his family related, adding that young people found his ministry an exciting and adventurous foray into religious belief. During his theological career he fully immersed himself in the communities where he held pastorates, serving on city councils, boards of education, engaging as a social worker for Los Angeles County and volunteering for a burgeoning Head Start program in 1967.

After the end of World War II he became an active leader and participant in the CROP Organization. Rev. Schler was a Sea Going Cowboy in 1955, where he accompanied a shipment of heifer cows to war torn countries in Europe for Heifer Project International. 

In 1981 he retired to Yuba City, California to be close to his grandchildren. The locale provided enough land to nurture his love of gardening. There he proudly served as a police and sheriff’s department chaplain as well as a volunteer hospital chaplain.

In November of 1984 he and Elsie relocated to Pilgrim Place in Claremont. He lived there for 33 years, actively attending Claremont United Church of Christ, which provided them both welcome fellowship.

Retirement did not end Rev. Schler’s commitment to serving others. In 1990 he helped to build 100 homes in one week in Tijuana, Mexico for Jimmy Carter’s Habitat for Humanity, which compelled him to join a task force to organize the Inland Valley Habitat for Humanity chapter.

He had a great love for woodworking, gardening and continually supported the Pilgrim Place Festival, working throughout the year on projects to be sold at festival booths. He happily donned a pilgrim costume, greeted attendees and posed for pictures with children at each festival.

Rev. Schler was enthusiastically involved with various groups working toward holistic health—body, mind and spirit. His focus on staying fit continued throughout his life. His beloved Pilgrim Place family provided him the platform and fellowship needed for success in his altruistic, philosophical and theological endeavors.

He believed family and faith were important. Heritage and taking a stand for one’s beliefs and for loved ones were the core of how he lived his life, his family shared.

He embraced change and was eager to learn, his family added, all while making each person he came in contact with feel special. His joyful and positive outlook on life, and deep belief we could make the world a better place for all, informed his actions: a philosophy that never wavered throughout his life.

Rev. Schler is survived by his brother Daniel Schler (Mary) of Eugene, Oregon; sister-in-law Leola Schler of Boonville, Missouri; daughter Barbara Rodriquez (Ray) of Las Vegas; son David Schler (Beverly) of Denver, Colorado; son-in-law Douglas Pingel of Visalia, California; grandchildren Shelley Rodriquez (Rich Bonamo) of Las Vegas, Sarah McCurry (Travis) of Victorville, Nathan Pingel (Michelle) of Sacramento, James Pingel (Vera) of San Diego, John Pingel (Nilou) of Berkeley; great grandchildren Kayla, Tyler, and Amanda Pingel; Taylor McCurry; Anton and Anja Pingel and numerous extended family as well as congregations throughout the country, and his beloved Missouri.

Rev. Schler was preceded in death by his wife of 61 years, Elsie Schler and by his daughter Judith Pingel.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. on Sunday, August 27 at Kingman Chapel, Claremont United Church of Christ, 233 Harrison Ave. A reception to celebrate his life will follow at 3:30 p.m. in Pilgrim Place’s Napier Center, 660 Avery Rd., Claremont.

Interment of Rev. Schler’s ashes at his childhood home church cemetery in Boonville, Missouri at a later date will close his adventurous life of service.

Per Rev. Schler’s request, in lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made in his name to Pomona Valley Habitat for Humanity at, the Pilgrim Place Health Support Fund at or the Schler Educational Endowment Fund at St. Johns UCC, 14191 Billingsville Rd., Boonville, MO 65233.



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