These bodies we occupy don’t last forever, as the loss of Mendocino County teacher, activist, and extraordinary friend, Jef Schultz this week has vividly reminded me. When I met Jef and his partner in all things, Ellen Buechner, nearly a decade ago, he was already on a Great to Be Alive tour after a difficult heart surgery and recovery. So it seems that every moment with the two of them and their ever-growing family since has been precious. Jef overflowed with a love for the living world around him that could be fierce at times, and understood the interconnectedness of all creatures as well as anyone I’ve ever met. He will be raising hell elsewhere now. I will be joining friends and family from Caspar, California and around the world at 1 pm today, Thursday, November 19, to pause and wish him well, loudly, and invite others to do the same wherever they are. My love to his partner Ellen Buechner and the extended Fortunate Farm family. Ellen posted the message below to Facebook on November 18, 2020. – Christopher Fisher.
Jef Schultz’s body will be cremated tomorrow (Thursday, November 19) at 1:00 PM at Rose Memorial Garden in Fort Bragg. Please come and stand with us or have a thought for him at that time wherever you are. There will be no formal ceremony, per his request.
All of Jef’s family want to thank his community here in Caspar, CA and all over the world for the strength-giving love and support we have received during this sad time. Keep him in your heart for a while.
Jeffrey S. Schultz July 15, 1952 – November 15, 2020
Jef Schultz had been struggling with severe illness for quite some time, but still his sudden death took his friends and family by surprise this Sunday morning, November 15. We wish we had been able to say goodbye, to thank him, and to tell him how much we love him.
Jef Schultz’s life was all about family, social justice, service, education, and joy. He was born in Flint, Michigan to Stuart and Joanne (Warren) Schultz and moved as a young child to Normal, Illinois, which many say was the only normal thing about him. His father was transferred to Santa Rosa, California and Jef finished his growing up there and in Sacramento. He loved the northern California coastal life. He meandered through college, trekked across Europe on $3 per day, and returned to face his draft board and a judge, becoming only one of a handful of card-carrying conscientious objectors in his community during the Viet Nam war. He completed his alternate service while attending UC Davis where he met Pamela Dahlgren, the mother of his first two children, Aki (Ransome) and Aru Jeremy Schultz.
After his days in Davis Jef moved to Santa Cruz and completed his self-created undergraduate degree in “The Needs of Modern Man” at UCSC. He also met and married Julie Fellom, who brought Jef’s son Garth Porteur into his life, and also their daughter together, Gia Rosesther Schultz. Jef worked as a teacher’s aide in preschool and held a series of service jobs, including his service to the planet with Greenpeace. Jef helped shut down the Richmond refinery one fine evening and worked to stop the nuclear plant at Rancho Seco. He is particularly famous in activist’s circles for breaking into jail to take the place of someone who was in trouble with his wife for getting arrested at a protest.
When his kids were all up and going, Jef went back to school and obtained his master’s in theological studies from Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in Berkeley. Jef lived out his service working as a pastor and counselor for people experiencing homelessness in Santa Rosa. He also began his career as an elementary school teacher at that time.
In 2000 Jef was hired to teach at the newly formed Pacific Community Charter School in Point Arena. Jef enjoyed the academic freedom and dynamic quality of the school’s teaching philosophy, and he loved every one of his students. He also met Ellen Buechner there, and they formed a fast friendship before falling in love in 2002. Ellen and Jef were married at St. Paul’s Methodist Church in Point Arena on July 11, 2003. Their love affair lasted for 18 years in which they traveled, gathered community, raised and cheered on all of the kids, including Ellen’s daughters Gowan Batist and Oryx Battiste, and dreamed of owning a little farm where Jef could return to his roots from his early days at The Farm in Tennessee.
That farm manifested itself in magical ways, and in January 2014 Ellen and Jef joined with daughter Gowan on their Fortunate Farm adventure in Caspar, where he proudly held the position of “Farm Curmudgeon.” His favorite time of the week was Saturday farm stand where he could greet everyone and talk about the farm. Being part of Fortunate Farm gave deep and sustaining meaning to Jef’s life, and his connections with loving, like-minded people in the community brought him endless joy and gratitude. Jef continued to teach for 6 years more, as well; 2 at Horicon School in Annapolis and 4 more as a substitute in the Fort Bragg USD.
Jef’s idea of community expanded to include everything his enthusiasm and hands could reach. Jef served as a volunteer chaplain at the hospital in Fort Bragg. He was an active participant in Rev. Barber’s Poor People’s Campaign. He was an advocate and fundraiser for preserving heirloom species of acorn trees and was a life-long advocate for the rights of our First Nations neighbors. He was a stone feminist and an advocate for the poor and vulnerable everywhere. Jef was an honorary member of Code Pink and was one of the first US citizens back into Havana as a citizen diplomat after the embargo ended. He was helping to build a book center for at-risk children in Moyamba, Sierra Leone. He and his classes at Pacific Community Charter School helped to convince the Obama administration to bring the California Coastal National Monument onshore in Point Arena. He traveled to Livermore for the Good Friday No Nukes protest every year. He served on the Board of In Recognition of Incest Survivors (IRIS). He was a member of the Grassroots Institute’s gathering, worked for community disaster preparedness with Caspar Prepared, and brought sand mandalas and visiting Tibetan monks to share their culture with the coastal community. Jef Schultz showed up for every community march that he had the strength to stand up for and had his hand in his pocket for any needful person that he possessed the resources to help.
Jef’s response to almost any occasion, tragic or joyful, was to throw a party with great music, dancing, and food cooked ourselves. We will do just that as soon as it is safe to gather. Until then, please remember his family, his wife Ellen who loved him deeply, his revered mother Joanne Martin, his best-friend brother Tom Schultz (Konny) and beloved sister Karen (Justin) Sandoval, his adored children Aki, Jeremy, Garth, Gia, Gowan and Oryx of whom he was so proud, and grandchildren Avery, Ethan, Finnegan, Illiana, Elias, Dominic, Miles and Nadia as well as beloved in-laws, nieces, nephews, and adopted family too numerous to mention here but never forgotten and always welcome in our lives.
Those who wish to remember Jef Schultz with a donation are invited to send a gift to Plenty (via The Farm, Summertown, TN) or to Tri-Valley CARES in Livermore, CA. Other ways to honor Jef are to stand up for social justice, support local agriculture and craft in any way you can, love art, listen to nature, and in his words, “Be Who You Are.”