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Friends and family of Todd Schatz suffered an immeasurable loss on September 15, 2023, when his battle with an aggressive brain tumor ended. For those closest to him and the bands of folks who clamored to his bedside, it was nothing short of unbelievable that the life of a man whose clever turns of phrase and hilarious anecdotes had drawn to a close. In typical 'Schatz' fashion, his last days found him wielding his characteristic non-compliance and ill behavior, much to the delight of clinical staff and visitors. To Todd, life was meant to be lived with little more than a casual acquaintance with formality and rules, but instead, masterful displays of pranks, stories, and devilish wit. His shenanigan wars with his next-door neighbor, Dave Thorstensen, were legendary, and many Christmas ornaments surreptitiously changed hands each holiday season. Friends continue to remark on his inimitable personality, further proof of the loss felt by so many in his absence.
Todd was born in Missoula, Montana, on August 25, 1963, to Herb and Beatrice Lefler Schatz. After a tragic accident took Herb's life, Beatrice remarried Robert (Bob) Kinney, and the family moved to Superior, Montana. Brother Scott and sister Courtney came along later. It was there that Todd grew up in the glorious days of the sixties, seventies, and eighties, where small-town living meant long days spent fishing and hunting, lifeguarding at the pool, and competing in a sport each season of the school year. As anyone familiar with him during his developmental years could attest, no one was better than he at cramming as much 'living' into a day. Of course, his philosophy regarding recreation and the meaning of life ran counter to that of his parents from time to time. Bright and creative, of equal measure, he deftly navigated situations where only the most skilled rapscallion would have prevailed. The wood pile surrounding the Kinney property, like an unbreachable fortress, didn't build itself. Lo, it was the result of countless hours in the woods, where Bob “encouraged” Todd and Scott to use their energy to gather fuel for the family home. With surprising regularity, the wood pile even got moved, never too far, but several feet or so to the north or south, depending on the severity of the offense having recently been committed. To a guy like Todd, it was just the cost of doing business.
In high school, Todd played football and wrestled. He placed third at State in wrestling in both his junior and senior years. With an exceptional work ethic and never one to be idle, he worked for the US Forest Service, lifeguarded, bucked bales, and worked at Hanson's garage in the summers. His free time would find him with friends, many with whom he remained close for the rest of his life. Stories featuring childhood buddies Ron Hollenback, Erin Goosey, Bret Thompson, and Tom Bauer resided on a loop whenever he recounted his younger years.
In 1982, he graduated early from Superior High School and enrolled at MSU-Bozeman to study Business Administration and English during his freshman year. In 1984, he transferred to the University of Montana, where he pledged his undying loyalty as a Griz fan. In the summers, Todd worked as a laborer for Washington Construction, where he was encouraged to apply by his uncle Don Peresinni, who served as the company's president. Along the way, he married, and upon graduating from UM, he began a teaching career in Libby, Montana, where, alongside English, he taught Driver's Education for the next 29 years. Todd took tremendous pride in coaching in the Greenchain Little Guy and high school wrestling programs, where he spent years working alongside Jay Graham, Todd Berget, and Mort Curtis in continuing to build the legacy of the hard-nosed Libby wrestling brand. One of Todd's greatest joys was reliving the exploits of Greenchain wrestlers as they competed in big matches across Montana and at Tri-State held in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.
In the midst of teaching and coaching, he became a father to two boys, Tanner, and Tucker Schatz. From toddlers to young adults, he valued his time spent with his boys. Two years ago, Todd became a grandpa to Wesley Todd Schatz (Tanner Schatz) and reveled in his new role. Never more serious about his responsibility, he took to grandparenting in a flash, nicknaming his newly arrived grandson, 'Weeman.' Always quick to offer his time to babysit, Todd familiarized himself with diaper changes and Baby Shark, making sure he was never more than a drive away from his little buddy. In a remarkable effort to honor one of his last wishes, Todd and Wesley were provided a fishing excursion, thanks to Libby teachers/coaches Bill Moe, Dean Thompson, and the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, who appeared with a stock tank loaded with fish on a flatbed trailer where Weeman was able to catch his first fish in the presence of his grandpa. This effort succinctly sums up why Todd considered Libby the very best of the "Last Best Place," as Libby has always looked after its own.
The family would like to thank all those who cared for and visited Todd while he was in the hospital. Medical staff at Cabinet Peaks Medical Center and the Libby Care Center provided outstanding care while he was there. Further, Todd's appreciation and devotion to Libby, MT, and all who lived there was evident in his every thought, word, and deed, and he was fortunate to have been loved by so many. A memorial service is planned for Saturday, October 21, at 2 p.m. at the Libby Memorial Events Center, and the family suggests attendees wear their UM Grizzly, Libby Logger, or Superior Bobcat regalia, as he would love that. Many thanks to retired Libby teacher/coach Jim May for assisting in getting the memorial set. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that a donation to a college memorial fund for Wesley Todd Schatz be considered. Donations may be sent to Goodrich & Reely, PLLC, ℅ Wesley Todd Schatz, 2315 McDonald Ave Suite 200, Missoula, MT 59801. Arrangements were under the care of the Schnackenberg Funeral Home of Libby. Memories and condolences may be shared by visiting www.schnackenbergfh.com.