When Paul Schoch disappeared into the Alaskan wilderness in September of 2007, his former co-workers at Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College were sadden, but comfort came knowing the man was doing what he loved. Schoch’s reverence for the great outdoors was matched by his passion for lifelong learning. Thanks to a scholarship in his memory, a bit of his legacy can endure in Chequamegon Bay.
Schoch was a graduate of WITC-Ashland’s marine repair technician program in 1995, and was hired as an instructor for the program in February 1996. Schoch retired in 2001.
During a solo hiking trip to Wrangell-St. Elias National Park in Alaska, Schoch went missing. A pilot scheduled to pick up Schoch found his tent door open, with food and medication left behind. After a week of searching the National Park Service called the search off. The Brule, Wis. resident was 68.
Although Schoch taught for only five years, his dedication to his students was apparent. “He always enjoyed his students,” said Schoch’s wife Carol. “He loved seeing them progress and learn. He spent endless hours at home going over everything he was going to teach them.”
College Advancement Associate Deb Ellefson worked to establish a scholarship in Schoch’s memory. The Paul Schoch Memorial Scholarship is available to WITC-Ashland students with preference given to non-traditional aged students enrolled in the marine repair technician program.
“I think Paul would have been very pleased to be associated with a scholarship to help others continue their education and fulfill their dreams. Paul was one of those individuals who never stopped learning,” said Ellen Hauser, WITC’s executive dean. “He was one of the most positive individuals I have ever known; he loved life and he loved learning.”
Schoch was a retired driver for Greyhound, and the couple had also owned and operated a marina before moving to Brule. Schoch saw the lack of marine services in the region as an opportunity to keep himself busy and incorporate his hobby of boating. “He opened a small shop, working out of our basement and within two years had to build a three-stall garage for his business. That led him to going back to school,” Carol said.
Despite having retired from one career and operating his own business, teaching was a challenge he was eager to face – particularly because he would be teaching something he loved. “He enjoyed being on the water, whether it was in our fishing boat, canoe or runabout,” Carol said. Schoch was also involved in karate for almost 40 years and had developed a love for photography.
Students are able to apply for the Paul Schoch Memorial Scholarship in the fall, with the funds applied to the spring semester. WITC-Ashland’s marine repair technician program offers graduates a technical diploma. It is a unique program in the state of Wisconsin, covering everything from stern to bow, inboard and outboard engines and fiberglass hull work. To apply for the Paul Schoch Memorial Scholarship, go to Foundation Scholarships.