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Gayle Schlicht 'was just a diehard Oxford guy'



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Gayle Schlicht is remembered for his support of all things Oxford, from the town’s history to youth sports. (click for larger version)
August 17, 2011 - Gayle Stanley Schlicht never craved the spotlight or sought accolades for his considerable involvement in this community.

From helping preserve local history to promoting youth sports, the lifelong Oxford resident simply did whatever needed to be done for the betterment of the hometown he loved so much.

"He was just a diehard Oxford guy," said his wife of 46 years, Mary Ann Schlicht. "Oxford was his town and he wanted to support it."

Sadly, Schlicht, who worked for General Motors for nearly 40 years before retiring in 2002, passed away on Monday, Aug. 8, 2011. He was 70 years old.

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Raised in the village, Schlicht, the son of Stanley and LuNette Schlicht, grew up on Ensley St. He attended kindergarten at Daniel Axford Elementary and later graduated from Oxford High School in 1959.

Other than his few years in the military, Schlicht never wandered far from his childhood home. After they were married, he and Mary Ann lived in an apartment on W. Burdick St., then a house on Pearl St. and finally, a house on Crawford St.

"He always wanted to live in town because that's where he grew up," Mary Ann said.

Throughout his life, Schlicht was involved in a variety of local groups. He was a past president of the Oxford Lions Club, past treasurer of the Northeast Oakland Historical Society (NEOHS) and past member of the Oxford Wildcat (Athletic) Booster Club. He's fondly remembered by each group.

"He did a fine job when he was treasurer," said NEOHS President and friend Gerald Griffin. "I can't say a bad word about him. He always worked hard while he was up (at the museum) . . . He'll be sorely missed."

"He was a great booster member," said Helen Smith, longtime friend and fellow Wildcats booster. "He cared so much about the athletes. He helped with anything and everything the club needed. He and his wife both worked the concession stands. They were just great members. He didn't miss any football games, I know that. He was a big contributor."

Lions President Charlie Garrard said Schlicht was "a nice, caring person who chose to help his fellow man through serving in the Lions Club. He will be missed by all who knew him."

In addition to these groups, Schlicht coached little league baseball in Oxford for 10 years in the 1970s and 1980s. Many of those seasons ended with championships, of which he was very proud.

Mary Ann noted that unlike some other coaches and dads, Schlicht never "screamed" at the kids.

The root of all Schlicht's community involvement was always humility and a desire to help others. It was never about ego, vanity or appearances.

"He was very quiet and unassuming – never boasted," Mary Ann said. "He was low-key. He was not the kind of person that ever put himself out in front. He was always content to be in the background and do the job that needed to be done."

Although Mary Ann said her husband was most definitely a "fun guy to be around," he was also "very precise and conscientious" about everything he did in life.

"He'd pay bills as soon as he got them," she said. "He didn't leave anything to chance. He mowed our yard every three or four days whether it needed it or not."

His attitude toward work and life in general developed at a relatively young age.

When Schlicht served in the U.S. Army from 1959-62, he received a letter of commen dation, which cited his "uniquely high devotion to duty . . . extra voluntary hours of work in order to get the job done in a superior manner . . . (and) the ability to handle a multitude of details accurately and smoothly."

Schlicht served at Fort Sill, Oklahoma and on the Korean peninsula, where he helped patrol and secure the border that divides the democratic south from the communist north.

"In my 13 years of commissioned service, your performance of duty has been one of the unique pleasures to observe and I have appreciated your efforts. You've been a credit to the unit and the United States Army," wrote the Army major who authored the commendation letter.

When he wasn't diligently serving his community, Schlicht's favorite pastime was quietly watching any sporting event that his sons or grandchildren were participating in, even practices.

"He'd just go sit on the sidelines," Mary Ann said. "He never said anything to the coaches. He'd never say, 'I think my kid should play this position or that position.' He never second-guessed them."

Back when his sons played football for OHS, Schlicht's GM co-workers always knew when it was game day because he'd make his rounds singing about the Wildcats.

Schlicht enjoyed the great Michigan tradition of hunting and was a member of two camps – Collins Hunting Camp in Alcona County's Hubbard Lake, where he went after pheasant, and Camp Thomas, a deer hunting camp located in the Upper Peninsula. The deer camp was started by his grandfather, Clyde Schlicht, and some friends back in 1927.

"He had one hell of a sense of humor," said Oxford resident Bob Collins, a friend of Schlicht's for 23 years. "He was one of a kind. He genuinely cared about people."

Collins and Schlicht did a lot of hunting and fishing together. They shared many memorable moments such as the time they were fishing in Canada and landed a northern pike that measured 46½ inches in length and weighed 20 pounds, 11 ounces.

"I actually caught it, but he was in the boat with me and he was just as excited as I was," Collins said.

Schlicht also loved playing cards and was a member of the same card club for more than 40 years.

Schlicht is survived by his wife Mary Ann; sons Michael, Eric (Sandy) and Ryan (Nicki) Schlicht; grandchildren Adam, Amanda, Noah, Austin, Caden and Eli Schlicht; brothers Gary (Lorraine) Schlicht and David (Carol) Schlicht; sister Linda (Richard) Curtis; and uncle Leonard (Virginia) Schlicht.

Funeral services were held on Friday, Aug. 12, 2011 at Bossardet Chapel, Lynch & Sons Funeral Directors in Oxford. Interment at Mt. Pleasant Cemetery in Oxford Township.

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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