By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
Robert Schindler, Sr., the father of Terri Schiavo, died on Aug. 29 of heart failure in St. Petersburg, Florida. He was 71 years old.
The world came to know Bob Schindler as the courageous father who fought a decade-long battle to save the life of his cognitively disabled daughter whose husband wanted to disconnect her feeding tube. Even though the battle was lost in 2005, he and his family have continued to fight for the lives of others in similar situations.
According to a statement from the family:
“Robert fought valiantly to save the life of his brain- injured daughter Terri in the landmark right to life case that culminated in her imposed death by court-ordered starvation and thirst on March 31, 2005. After Terri’s death, along with his wife Mary, daughter Suzanne (Schindler) Vitadamo and son Bobby Schindler, he founded the Terri Schindler Schiavo Foundation in St. Petersburg dedicated to supporting other families faced with the same need to fight for the rights of their disabled or otherwise vulnerable loved ones.”
Schindler is survived by his wife Mary, daughter Suzanne Vitadamo, son Bobby Schindler, and granddaughter Alexandra.
“I am heartbroken over the loss of my father and yet I know at this moment he is rejoicing with my sister, Terri,” said son Bobby Schindler in a statement. “My dad was a man of integrity, character and compassion who was blessed with a close and loving family. He taught all three of his children to respect and value life and to love our fellow man.”
“Even at the height of the battle to save my sister Terri’s life, when his patience and temperance was near exhaustion, he managed to display a gentleness of spirit,” continued Schindler. “Yet it was his unfathomable strength that allowed him to shoulder up his own heartache and lead us through our darkest hour.”
Priests for Life founder Fr. Frank Pavone, who witnessed Terri Schiavo’s final hours and is a close friend of the family, said Bob Schindler was “an inspiration” to him.
“In spite of enduring the heartbreaking, court ordered killing of his daughter, Terry Schiavo, Bob never stopped fighting for the rights of others who were disabled or medically vulnerable,” said Pavone. “His quiet strength in the face of persecution and his compassion for those who were too weak to defend themselves will forever serve as examples of how we should show Christ’s love.”
The Schindler family has requested that in lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Terri Schindler Schiavo Foundation, 5562 Central Avenue, Suite 2, Saint Petersburg, FL 33707. The telephone number for inquiries is (727) 490-7603.
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