Laverda Mae “Marty” Schuler (née Martin) died on February 13, 2021. Marty was a 29-year resident of Modesto, loving wife, mother, and grandmother, faithful Catholic and lover of the mass and its music, champion of her husband, daughters, and grandchildren, family advisor, amateur genealogist, community volunteer, and friend to many throughout her life. Marty was born in Wapato, Washington, third and youngest child of Lewis William Martin and Elizabeth “Bessie” Martin (née Healy), granddaughter of William Daniel Healy and Florence Dell Healy (née Baker), and Fred Martin and Rebecca May Martin/Clark (née Crawford). She was descended from a German great grandmother, Irish great grandfather, as well as other German, French, Scottish and even mystery ancestors as well as Union Civil War and Revolutionary War ancestors.
Marty (then known an Laverda) grew up in the small town of Wapato, Washington in a hard-working family of blue-collar workers with loving parents near many aunts, uncles, and cousins. Her mother’s side of the family’s Catholic faith (and her father’s conversion) helped shaped Marty’s life. It was a time when hunting and fishing skills put food on the table and her local area was one in which her friends’ parents and neighbors were immigrants, while others descended from pioneers. Marty was a good shot and was even awarded a trophy in a shooting competition. Her grandparents Healy’s farm was not far for visits and, while life was not easy in the rural agricultural area, it provided her fond memories of family that Marty kept for the rest of her life.
Marty graduated from Wapato Senior High School, Wapato, WA, in 1960, where she was a smart and diligent student and member of the choir and Pep Squad. She worked in the fruit packing plant during high school, where her mother also worked, which enabled her to purchase her school supplies and small items for herself. She enjoyed high school dances, friends, and life in the small town. Marty was an independent young woman and upon graduation from high school, moved to a shared apartment in nearby Yakima, saving money to purchase her own car. She was working in a secretarial position in an insurance agency when she met the love of her life, Richard “Dick” Schuler in the laundry room of their apartment building. Dick was from Los Angeles and had been drafted into the U.S. Army and sent to Fort Lewis, WA, to the Yakima Firing Center.
After marrying in 1961, Dick shortly after shipped to Germany with his unit, as a show of force during the Berlin Wall Crisis. This was despite being promised that no such plans for shipping out existed, but President Kennedy had other ideas. The separation for both was difficult, but he sent letters and photos back to his bride, with funny and light-hearted poses and statements, to keep her spirits up. Dick returned to Yakima and was so excited to see Marty that he left his belongings down the street at the bus stop. He entered Marty’s place of business and a co-worker went to tell her that a serviceman was there to see her. Reuniting was one of their happiest memories. Dick was discharged from active duty in the Army in 1962, and not finding work in Yakima, WA, he, and his now-pregnant wife moved to Los Angeles. An old high school buddy had recommended him for a job at Bank of America, where he enjoyed a successful career for the next 30 years. Marty made the intrepid move to leave everything familiar behind including all of her friends and family to live in a state she had never seen. It made economic sense to go where the job was for her husband and she was brave to forge this new stage of her life.
After leaving WA state, Laverda began using the nickname Marty as her name and she was only known as Laverda by her WA relatives and old friends there, with occasional use by Dick. At first the young couple and their first daughter lived in a small apartment over a deli in South Central LA, but moved to the Westchester community of the City of LA, which was near to her in-laws and Dick’s friends and relatives, including his Grandmother Howery, aunts, uncles, and cousins. A second daughter was born and during this time period, Marty was active as a Leader in Girl Scouts, the school PTA, her nearby Catholic church, and opened a business as a cake baker with professional-looking cake decorations. She was an attentive mother who successfully taught her children how to read before they started kindergarten, sewed clothes for them, planned fun birthday parties, taught them to be good sports, and was so organized that Dick would say that on top of running the household, a business and volunteering, she single-handedly painted the garage and duplex.
Dick’s success at Bank of America resulted in a transfer offer to Fresno where the family enjoyed the space which the lower cost of living and promotion could provide. Marty continued supporting her daughters by helping with school work and volunteering as a Girl Scout Leader and in the PTA, becoming President. She volunteered at the Kearney Mansion and began taking classes at Fresno City College and planned to become a paralegal. However, a job transfer for Dick intervened and the family moved again, this time to Modesto. As the local junior college did not have the same program, Marty had to leave behind her paralegal goal and start again with classes on a different track. Marty completed her A.A. at Modesto Junior College and transferred to California State University, Stanislaus, where she completed a B.A. in Business Administration, graduating in 1980, the same year her older daughter completed high school. She inspired the younger generation with her perseverance in obtaining her college degree and forged forward even though she was older than the other students, and was married, with children. A friend of hers sent her a card letting her know how much her encouragement had helped him, stating that if it wasn’t for it, he may not have finished his degree. Both of her daughters are college-educated, which was a source of pride for her.
Another job transfer for Dick resulted in a move to the small town of Jackson. Marty was ready for a full-time career at this point, but unfortunately found that she had two strikes against her. She was overqualified for many jobs in the area and she was the wife of the local bank manager. This meant that in some businesses, she was unhirable and these sentiments were explained to her. She persevered again though and was hired as an office manager at various businesses, and then moved to working at the Amador County Water Agency in their customer and financial service group. After she left that job, she was told that they had to hire two workers to replace her and this was no joke. During this time period, she also opened her own successful antique shop and sang in her church choir.
In the mid-1980’s, in his early 50’s, Dick was diagnosed with a rare disease and told he had a short time to live. He decided to take an early retirement in 1993 and he and Marty decided they would live the lives that they wanted. They left their jobs and adopted a dog, traveling together through parts of the United States in their R.V., visiting historic sites, attending the Indy 500, antique-ing, and spending a summer as the host of a campground in Washington State, creating fond memories. They returned to Modesto upon the birth of their first grandchild in 1995 and enjoyed their trips to the California Speedway, to Hawaii and Monterey, and visiting and being a part of the lives of their two daughters and five grandchildren. Marty supported the Jackson High School Band Boosters, was very active in the Beyer High School (in the 1970’s), and Gregori High School Musical Arts Band Boosters between 2010 and 2016.
Traveling to Italy with her St. Joseph’s Church choir to sing before Pope John Paul II and tour historic sites was a memory she held on to and spoke of often. She had a lovely singing voice and was a jolly fun person to joke around with. Marty also enjoyed joining Dick by researching the family tree and solving family genealogy mysteries. She even traveled to Missouri to visit the grave of her immigrant Irish Great Grandfather. Dick and Marty were married for 58 years. A medical breakthrough resulted in the reversal of his terminal prognosis of the mid-1980’s, with Dick living to over 83 years old, only felled at last by an aggressive skin cancer which he fought gallantly to the last day, which was March 12, 2020.
Marty was predeceased by her husband, Dick, parents, and sister Betty Lou Reed. She leaves behind her brother, Lawrence “Larry” Martin (Phyllis), daughters Linda McDougall, her husband Matthew McDougall of Salida, CA, Leann Taagepera, her husband Jaan Taagepera of Benicia, CA, and five grandchildren, Chelsea of San Francisco, CA, Allison of Modesto, CA, and Duncan McDougall of Modesto and Arcata, CA, and Trent Taagepera of Benicia and Irvine, CA , Katrina Taagepera of Benicia and Davis, CA; cousins, nieces, and nephews. She also leaves her friends from St. Joseph’s Catholic Church and long-time friends Bob and Loty Thomas, with whom she never forgot their raucous get-togethers and fun times at Lake Arrowhead. May we strive to be as forgiving, tenacious, honest, funny, and loving as she demonstrated throughout her life. Marty suffered through stages of Alzheimer’s and from grief after the loss of her husband. Although of course they both will be missed, we raise our glasses to toast to them and take solace in the knowledge that they are now together. Dick picked up Marty in his Corvette and they drove into the sunset. Marty and Dick will be buried next to each other in the San Joaquin Valley National Cemetery in Santa Nella in one ceremony, and Dick will be afforded full military honors. A Memorial Mass will be held for both of them at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Modesto at 11:00 a.m. on Tuesday, March 23, 2021.
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