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Contact: Robert McKernan, museum director, (909) 307-2669 ext. 226 / TDD/TTY: (909) 792-1462.
Jennifer Reynolds, media specialist, (909) 798-5048

Event date: Monday, January 26, 2004
Event place: Redlands

Museum to honor memory of W. C. Schuiling

Dr. Walter C. Schuiling will be honored at a memorial gathering at the San Bernardino County Museum at 4:00 p.m. on Monday, January 26. Schuiling, who died on December 24, 2003, was a founder of the San Bernardino County Museum Association and the county museum.

"The passing of Walt Schuiling marks the death of the last of the original museum founders," said Robert McKernan, museum director. "His loss leaves a hole in the museum - but without his vision, there would not even be a museum."

Schuiling moved from Minnesota to San Bernardino in 1951. In 1952 he wrote a letter to the San Bernardino County Historical Society to suggest that a Museum Association be formed with the goal of establishing a county museum. He suggested that the historical society hold an information meeting with invited representatives of county and city organizations and persons known to be interested in museum development. In response, the historical society formed a committee with Schuiling, Gerald Smith, Lloyd Martin, Jane MacLin, and Paul Allen; L. Burr Belden joined the group at their first meeting in March 1952. By May, the San Bernardino County Museum Association had been established "to foster research and education, and to create and maintain collections of art, archaeology, ethnology, history and science; to preserve the relics and records of pioneer days." The Association founded a museum in Bloomington that opened in 1955; in 1957, the building and collections were donated to the County of San Bernardino and the San Bernardino County Museum became a reality.

The first board of directors of the Museum Association included Dr. Gerald A. Smith as president. Smith eventually became the Association's executive director, chaired the County Museum Commission, and directed the County Museum for 25 years. Schuiling was appointed Museum Curator, and held that position from 1952 to 1957, when he was elected to the Association's Board of Directors. From 1952 until his death in 2003, he remained active. He was a member of the Association's Board of Directors from 1957 through 2003, serving as its president, vice-president, executive director, and secretary. He was a charter member of the Museum Commission, appointed by the then 5th District Supervisor, and was reappointed nearly continuously: most recently, he was honored as a Founding Member of the Commission.

Schuiling was also a public member of the County/City public facility authority that oversaw construction of the central museum facility in Redlands, and served on a variety of Museum Association committees. He founded and edited the Museum Association's Newsletter, and was an active member of the Publications Committee until his death. He wrote seven Quarterly publications published by the Museum Association, including "Pleistocene Man at Calico," detailing the excavations at the Calico Early Man Site. He and his wife, Erna, worked closely with the late Ruth "Dee" Simpson on the Calico project. Schuiling was also a regular volunteer in the museum's history division archives.

In addition to his continuing work with the museum, Dr. Schuiling was an active member of the educational community. He began teaching in the area in 1951, first at Alessandro Junior High and San Bernardino High School, then as an original faculty member at Pacific High School in San Bernardino. He was a Fulbright Teacher in Denmark between 1958 and 1959, and taught at Rust College in Holly Springs, Mississippi in the summer of 1963, during the Civil Rights movement. He joined the faculty of San Bernardino Valley College in 1964 teaching American politics, western civilization, and Russian history. Appointed a Full Professor in 1974, he also sat on the Academic Senate, headed the Political Science Department, chaired the Social Science Division, and was named professor emeritus. In 1979 he transferred to Crafton Hills College, from which he retired in 1984.

"Walt was never less than fully involved with the museum," said Robert McKernan. "In addition to his formal duties as a member of the Museum Commission, the Museum Association, the Strategic Planning Committee, and other important bodies, he was also always found at the front door of the museum during special events, greeting visitors and 'working the clicker' to count visitors. He took the time to meet with me informally on a weekly basis - not to reminisce, but to share visions for the future of the county museum and the Museum Association, and to offer sound, practical advice to bring these visions to reality. In many ways, Walt and the museum were inseparable."

In January 2002, the museum honored Walter Schuiling and his late wife, Erna, by naming the upper level of the museum's dome the "Schuiling Gallery. "

Walter Schuiling is survived by his wife, Caroline, a son, Ty, and two granddaughters, all of Redlands; and a brother, John, of Bemidji, Minnesota. The San Bernardino County Museum Association has established a memorial fund in his honor; contributions may be made in care of the Museum Association, 2024 Orange Tree Lane, Redlands, California 92374.



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