William Jackson Schuder

The Orlando Sentinel

William Jackson Schuder's military accomplishments put him in the record books along with famous achievers such as generals John J. Pershing, Douglas McArthur and William Westmoreland.

But friends knew Schuder, a 6-foot-plus-tall retired Army colonel who lived in Casselberry for many years, as a humble man who was active in his church, dedicated to his family and loved a good game of golf.

"He was personable. He was funny. But he wasn't ever snobby or superior. He was such a nice, everyday kind of a guy," said Schuder's older daughter, Gwyneth Anderson, of Oviedo.

Schuder, known as "Jack," died Thursday at home after a long battle with congestive heart failure, kidney failure and a blood ailment. He was 88. He and his wife lived for the past four years with their younger daughter, Mary Ann "Maisie" Braswell and her husband, Ron, in Winter Springs.

At the US Military Academy at West Point, Schuder was named First Captain of Cadets--- also called Brigade Commander--- in 1947. The honor, similar to a student-body president, made him the top cadet commander in his class. Pershing, MacArthur and Westmoreland held the same position in other years. Schuder also won the Knox Trophy, the oldest military award at West Point, bestowed on the cadet with the highest ranking for military efficiency.

One of his classmates was the late Alexander M. Haig Jr., who went on to become a four-star general and secretary of state.

Schuder was born in Elkton, Va, and grew up in Glenolden, Pa., near Philadelphia, where his father ran the presses for the Philadelphia Inquirer for many years. He was one of 11 children, seven of whom survived to adulthood. Schuder outlived all of them.

He was a chemistry major on scholarship at Temple University for two years before he enlisted in the Army in 1942, during World War II. He was selected to attend West Point on the basis of a test he took while stationed in New Caledonia, in the South Pacific. He attended Amherst College for a year before entering the military academy in 1944.

"My dad was a brilliant man," Anderson said.

Schuder married his childhood sweetheart, Elizabeth Evans--- known as "Betty"--- in 1947. 

Over the years, the couple raised two daughters as they were stationed in locations including Naples, Italy, Fairbanks, Alaska, the Pentagon and Orlando. In 1954, Schuder earned a master's degree in civil engineering from Princeton University.

After two tours of duty in Korea and one in Vietnam, Schuder worked as athletic director at West Point from 1971 to 1976. He retired that year and moved to Casselberry, where his wife's parents lived, Anderson said.

Schuder had a second career as the first director of public works for Seminole County. He left in 1984 because of health problems and spent his later years golfing in Casselberry, reading military history and fiction, being active in the local Kiwanis Club and Military Order of the World Wars and volunteering at Westminster Presbyterian Church, also in Casselberry. He also helped his wife with her Meals on Wheels route.

"His whole life was about service," Anderson said.

Schuder delighted in his two grandsons, both of whom followed him into the military. Army Staff Sergeant William Jason Ellis — named after his grandfather — is stationed in Afghanistan and previously served two tours of duty in Iraq. Erik Ellis, now a senior at the University of Central Florida, served in Iraq and Afghanistan in the Army Reserves. When they were boys, Schuder and his wife enjoyed taking them to the beach, to swim in their pool and to see the ducks at The Peabody Orlando hotel on International Drive.

In addition to his wife, daughters and grandsons, Schuder is survived by a 1-year-old great-grandson. A memorial service is scheduled for next month, but the family will wait until Jason Ellis comes home this summer to bury Schuder at The West Point Cemetery with military honors.