David Schultz, Paris resident and builder of Bong State Rec Area accessible cabin, remembered

Dave Shultz looks over plans for the accessible cabin at Richard Bong State Recreation Area. /Photo from video embedded below, copyright Stiles productions 2007

The Paris resident known to many as the driving force behind bringing an accessible cabin to the Bong State Recreation Area  and as a builder, beloved family member or friend and even Santa to others, died earlier this week.

David Schultz, 54, died suddenly at home Monday.

Involved in various community service projects through the years, perhaps Schultz’s highest profile and most complex accomplishment was the building of a cabin that was adapted for people with disabilities at Richard Bong State Recreation Area in Brighton. He got the idea from visiting other state parks with similar facilities with his family, which includes a son, Nick, that uses a wheelchair. He was inspired by how much easier the cabin made the camping experience.

David Schultz /Photo from video embedded below, copyright Stiles Productions 2007

Schultz felt he would need some organizational support to pull off such a project, and he found it in the Westosha Salem Kiwanis Club. He joined the club and was made president on the same day and set off immediately on making the cabin happen. He also brought in fraternal organizations such as Catholic Knights to help raise funds.

Said Dan Fisher, a Westosha Kiwanis Club member:

Dave almost single-handedly proceeded to raise the $150,000 needed to build the cabin (not counting all the favors he called in from his countless contacts in the construction trade).  With Dave, it wasn’t hunting down one person for a donation, instead, everyone he ran across in his working day was told of his dream and most were willing to help.  A trip to the lumber yard or hardware store for Dave always ended up with something being contributed for The Cabin.  It wasn’t fundraising to Dave, this was his dream and nothing was going to stop him once he started.  He didn’t really need the Westosha Kiwanis Club, he just needed to know when he looked back over his shoulder that we were behind him.”

Was there a need for such a cabin? The cabin is booked almost every available day during the camping season, said John Meyer, the park manager at Bong.

About Schultz, Meyer said:

“The really amazing thing about Dave Schultz was his ability to mobilize people in the community to get the cabin done  … Dave was one of those people who brought out the best in other people.”

Schultz is remembered in other ways as well. Said Paris resident John Holloway:

I have known Dave most of my life.  He was a year behind me in school, so we went to Paris and Central together.  We were in the same 4-H club, played on softball teams together.  What I remember the most is laughter.  He had a great laugh and it seemed that we always found things to laugh about when we were together.  Dave loved life and people.  He enjoyed the history of Paris and the families that make up the community.  He was an avid collector of Indian arrowheads and the home farm was a treasure for him.  He told me that whenever he had too much stress, he would walk out into the fields and look for arrow heads.  He said he could usually find at least one every time he went looking. Dave used to play Santa for several families — he carried a photo in his wallet of him as Santa — it was amazing.  He was very generous man — helping out and being thoughtful were second nature to him — he made it seem so effortless. Dave had built a new front porch for me last year, helping me design it so it looks like it was always there.  I will be able to look at that porch each evening as I walk home and think of Dave.”

Here is a video that tells the story of the cabin and features Schultz near the beginning explaining in his own words what motivated him:

A wake for David Schultz will be held Saturday, Oct. 30 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Hansen-Lendman Funeral Home, 6019 Seventh Ave., Kenosha. A service will follow and burial will be in Union Grove. (Click here for full obituary information.)


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