LONG TIME AREA OIL MAN: Oscar Lewis Schkade, a devoted and loving husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather, passed away on January 24, 2017 at the age of 98 in Abilene, TX. An Abilene resident since 1952, Oscar was a member of Zion Lutheran Church and a successful businessman.
Born to Alvin J. and Louise (Sohns) Schkade on June 28, 1918 In Albany TX; Oscar was the eldest of 11 children. In 1920 the family relocated to The Grove, TX and worked as sharecroppers. In 1926 the family moved back to Albany to the family farm. Most of Oscar’s youth was spent at work on the family farm. Being of modest means, his father, Alvin, supplemented their income with work in the oil fields on a cable tool drilling rig. In Oscar’s 13th year, tragedy befell the family when Alvin was severely injured in an oil field accident. His father being hospitalized for 6 months and unable to work for some time afterward, it fell to the teenage Oscar to quit school and devote his time to helping his mother run the farm and care for his younger siblings.
After his father’s recovery, in the midst of the Great Depression, Oscar was again called on to help support his family, this time by following the migration of Americans to California and the promise of better work. Setting off for the West with his brother, Bennie, and two of their male cousins, the boys slept in the car and brought only enough money to purchase gas and ate day old bakery goods for the entire journey. Soon after arrival, the young men gained employment picking oranges and were able to send the majority of their earnings home for the family.
Following the outbreak of World War II, in 1942, Oscar joined the Army Air Corp. He served the duration of the war in the American Theater as an aircraft mechanic. He worked as a Crew Chief on P-38’s. The commander of the squadron he was assigned to, soon recognized Oscar’s abilities and asked that he lead the maintenance crew for his personal plane. In 1946, having attained the rank of Sergeant, Oscar was honorably discharged. For his service, he received the American Theater Ribbon, Good Conduct Medal, and the Victory Medal. He then returned to Albany and worked as a driller in the area oil fields.
Shortly after his return to civilian life, Oscar met Nora Melinda Riewe and they quickly fell in love. They were married on May 5, 1946, in Pottsville, Texas. Married for 64 years, they had two children, Sandra and Brent, born in 1948 and 1953 respectively. Oscar always credited Nora with helping him to develop a deeper faith in God for making his house a home.
In 1948, Oscar and his brothers, Clarence and Richard, borrowed money to purchase their own cable tool drilling rig. They worked on the rig themselves and formed Schkade Brothers Drilling Company. They were blessed with great success and always attributed those blessings to the Lord. In 1980, the company name was changed to Schkade Brothers Operating Company and it is still in operation to this day nearly 70 years after the brothers purchased their first rig. Oscar’s passion for the “oil patch,” innate intelligence, early life experiences, and engaging personality all made for an outstanding businessman, highly respected by his associates, family and friends.
Possessing of a strong faith in God and a member of Zion Lutheran Church since 1952, Oscar served his church family in many capacities, including time spent on the Board of Finance and as an elder. At the time of his death, he was Zion’s oldest member. Following Jesus’s command in Luke 18:16 to “let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these,” Oscar and Nora helped to start the All God’s Children Child Development Center. In addition, during the relocation of Zion Lutheran Church, Oscar and Nora personally selected and donated the new steeple for the church.
Known for his entertaining life stories, witty sense of humor, and thoughtful counsel, Oscar was often surrounded by a crowd of friends and family. An eternal optimist, he always put God and his family first, and his light was a beacon to many. He was very active even into his 80’s, working closely with his brother and son in the day-to-day details of their drilling and operating company, running a small cattle ranch, and never hesitating to get down on the floor to play with his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. From playing Go Fish, to marbles, and even wrestling with his great-grandson, Oscar always wanted to stay involved in his children’s and grandchildren’s lives. In his later years, despite being mostly bedridden, Oscar insisted on spending his days in the main area of the house, so he could continue to entertain visitors and participate in as much activity as possible.
Oscar is survived by his son and daughter in law, Brent and Cindy Schkade of Abiliene, TX; their daughter, Kristi Schkade of Plymouth, MA. He is also survived by his daughter and son in law, Sandra and Jerry Storey of Abilene, TX and their children, Shawn and Jill Storey of Richardson, TX, with children Caroline of Richardson and Cammie or New York City, NY; Tiffany and Howard Miller of Flower Mound, TX and children Taylor and Cason also of Flower Mound, TX; daughter, Toni Storey of Grapevine, TX; daughter and son in law, Gerri Sue and Steve White of Nashville, TN, with children Brittany Brasseaux of New Orleans, L.A, and Brianna and Mark Comeaux of Franklin, LA with children Bryleigh and Briar Rose.
Other survivors include sisters, Florine Schkade Jeter of Eldorado, TX, Ann Schkade-Tankersly of Albany, TX, Hildegarde Schkade-Wright of Cisco, TX, Violet Schkade of Albany, TX; brother, William Schkade of Albany, TX; and numerous nieces and nephews.
Oscar is preceded in death by his beloved wife of 64 years, Nora Riewe Schkade; brother, Bernhard (Bennie) Schkade; sister, Ella Schkade-Welch; infant brother, Eric Schkade; brother Richard Schkade, and brother Clarence Schkade.
The family would like to recognize and give special thanks to his caregivers, present and past, for their care and dedication.
Celebration of Life Service will be Monday, January 30, 2017 at 11:00 a.m at Zion Lutheran Church, 2801 Antilley Rd, Abilene, TX 79606.
Visitation for family and friends will be Sunday, January 29, 2017 from 3:00 p.m to 5:00 p.m at Elmwood Funeral Home Chapel, 5750 US Highway 277 S, Abilene, TX 79606.
In Lieu of flowers memorial donations can be made in Oscar’s honor to Zion Lutheran Church’s General Fund or Loan Reduction Fund or All God’s Children Child Development Center, 2801 Antilley Rd. Abilene TX 79606.
To be the Schakdes neighbors at Wesley Court was such a pleasure. May their family be comforted by God's everlasting love.
Travis & Helen HatterThe Villages, FL