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Van Harlan Schooler

November 1, 1938 — January 4, 2023


Van Harlan Schooler


Van Harlan Schooler was born November 1, 1938 to Thomas and Della Mathews Schooler at the home of his maternal grandmother and her husband in San Angelo, Texas.  The home was later moved and the fire station was built on the location.  Thus a monument is established at his birth place.  On his birth certificate his name is spelled with two N’s…Vann, but this never stuck.  The family resided on a farm west of Robert Lee, Texas where he joined his five-year-old brother, Don Joel.  Two years later, the family welcomed the third brother, Jamie.  Mrs. Schooler said that it was so cold that she wore a diaper tied around her waist so when she changed the baby at night, she would have a warm diaper to use.  Times were hard but they were for everyone.  Post-depression and war years meant living lean.  Once when they were visiting a neighbor, she gave Van a banana to eat.  When he finished it, he asked the lady if they were rationed.  She gave him another banana.  When he started school, he and Don Joel walked to Wildcat school.  Van was the smartest kid in the first grade, and the only kid.  One afternoon Don Joel and another kid decided to play hooky.  Van demanded that he get to.  After a while, Van got tired of the adventure and returned to school.  The boys were not happy with him.  At some point the school closed and the boys rode the bust to Robert Lee.  Because of responsibilities at home, after school activities were limited to FFA.  During his school years, his cousin, Mary Beth Schooler, joined his class.  They became life long friends, as well as relatives.

Van’s father was not a pleasant person, but his mother was wonderful and well respected.  His father died of heart disease when Van was 15 and his mother had previously begun her battle with breast cancer.  The boys took many responsibilities and supported her physically and emotionally the remainder of her life.  To know the character of a person you can look at the way they treat their mother as a measure.  One day she told Van and Jamie to make a pan of cornbread for their next meal.  They decided to add green food coloring to the batter.  Not even the old dog would eat it after it was served and thrown out.  The family were members of the Pecan Missionary Baptist Church.  Van was baptized in a horse tank I assume one summer.  He was blessed with an extended family and neighbors who were good to the family.

After graduation from high school, Van worked for the county before moving to Key, near Lamesa, to work for his cousins, Bobbie and Billy Love.  Later, he moved south of Morton to work for cousins, JL and Donnalita Schooler.  In addition to working as a farmer, he became a member of each of their families.  Tim can tell stories including Van giving him a spanking.  Morton, especially between Plains and Morton, was where Van gave his heart and soul to the land and the people.  Farming was his life.  In January of 1969, a friend fixed him up for a blind date with the homemaking teacher at Whiteface who was his wife’s friend, and in June, 1969 he married Fredda Bourland in Clarendon, Texas.  With his beautiful blue eyes and kirk Douglas cleft chin, it was love at first sight.  When asked how long he had been married, he would reply, “Since the 3rd grade.”  Once his young niece asked, “What you belly button doing on you chin?”  Thus began his life as the spouse of an educator.  In December 1970, the family welcomed Matthew Bourland Schooler, followed in 1974 with the birth of Sallye Suzanne Schooler.

The family spent two years at Quail farming before returning south of Morton.  In 1980, the family moved into Morton.  Besides farming, Van took care of kids while momma attended meetings and hauled high schoolers to extracurricular events.  He attended banquets and proms.  One year the neighbor girls were going to get Van to dance with them.  Every time they started his way, headed to the bathroom.  People probably thought he had a stomach problem.  His specialties were chicken baked in the clay pot, stew, cornbread, pound cake and his mother’s apple cake.  When Fredda attended graduate school, he bought groceries and cooked meals.  When she became an administrator, he attended more sporting events than he ever dreamed possible.  He became a Morton Indian fan with a new cap furnished by the coaches every year.

As a father, he helped get kids ready for school or the babysitter and met the bus.  When momma was preaching a sermon on etiquette or nutrition at the table, he was famous for getting tickled and ruining the effect of the speech.  Three little girls even roped him into taking them to the rodeo after telling him their mother said he could.  When times were hard, he made things happen.  He had collected silver bars that he sold when it was time to get Matt a pickup.  He wanted for his kids, things that were hard for him to obtain.  Sallye got her vehicle when it was time.

Fredda and Van did not believe in the saying, “Don’t go to bed mad.”  To them it was either go to bed mad or stay up all night mad, so they went to bed mad on occasions.  Her Aunt Alma always said that if anyone said they didn’t fight with their spouse, they would lie about other things, too.  Once Fredda came home with a sack of eucalyptus to put in a basket.  Van was not having that smell in the house.  Fredda put the sack in the well house for a few years, but told him she was putting it in his funeral spray.  They also disagreed about him wearing a tie to events.  Van could not tie a tie because he wore clip on ties.  However, sometimes regular ties were the ones that matched his attire.  Fredda could tie ties because she had tied them on her grandfather after he couldn’t.  He said he wasn’t wearing it in his casket.  Fredda replied, “It will be in the casket,” and it is.  She always told him she was burying the remote with him, but then she wondered how she would turn the tv off and on.  So it is not?  They had other discussions also, but survived 53 years, 6 months and 21 days.  Saturday (today) would have been the 54th anniversary of their first date.

Van grew up deer hunting because it was a way of life.  He enjoyed fall hunts to Colorado plus end of summer vacations to the state.  He especially enjoyed visiting his Uncle Raymond and Aunt Josie while there.

Over the years, he overcame 30 years of heart trouble, 5 heart attacks, 12 stents, 6 months with a colostomy bag, to end with complications from Covid.

Van attended the Morton Church of Christ and Austin Street Church of Christ with Fredda through the years.  He served as president of the Cochran County Soil Conservation Board and the Cochran Country Farm Bureau.  He spent a few years working at R&K Chevrolet in Morton.  In retirement years, his socialization with his coffee drinking buddies at different locations during the days pre-Covid.

Preceded in death by his parents, Tom and Della Schooler; brothers, Don Joel and wife Betty and Jamie Schooler; he is survived by his wife of 53 years, Fredda; children, Matt of Portland, IN and Sallye and husband Karst Tijmes of Levelland; grandson, Van Jeter, fiancée Bethany Mitchell and his father Dan Jeter of Levelland; children of love, Ashley Rust and family Michael, Stetson and Sterling of Coweta, OK, Brooklyn Steele and fiancée Joaquin of Odessa and Nick Steel of Midland; sisters-in-law, Jerri Schooler of San Angelo, Lynn and husband David White of College Station and Beth and husband Steve Holtz of San Angelo; and many special nieces and nephews and a host of close friends.

Van loved the Lord, his family and the many friends that he had over the years.

The family suggest contributions in lieu of flowers to: Alcove (the group home Fredda is involved with establishing), Box 886, Morton, TX 79346; Westview Boys Home, Animal Project (pigs are purchased and raised for show projects), Box 553, Hollis, OK 73550; or a charity of your choice.

A Family Gathering will be held at 10:00 am on Saturday, January 7, 2023, at Citizen's Cemetery in Clarendon.

Arrangements are under the direction and personal care of the professionals at Krestridge Funeral Home.  (806) 897-1111



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