Gavin Schenck

Photo added by Bob Lawrence

Gavin Schenck

  • Birth 18 Jun 1965 Alva, Woods County, Oklahoma, USA
  • Death 20 Jul 2012 Kalispell, Flathead County, Montana, USA
  • Burial Alva, Woods County, Oklahoma, USA
  • Plot Block 4, Lot 045
  • Memorial ID 94008727

Gavin Schenck, 47, died in his own way and time at Heritage Place in Kalispell on Friday morning, July 20, 2012, after living for 40 years with a terrible, incurable, slowly progressive brain disease.

Gavin was born in Alva, Okla., on June 18, 1965. He was legally named George Lewis Schenck but with his own creative spirit, changed his name to Gavin as an adult.

Gavin's spirit was immensely creative and mentally bright. His grade school teacher said he was so distractible he might never graduate from high school (he did) and as an adult was a voracious reader. Some folks go to faraway countries and islands in the sea but Gavin traveled through the entire galaxy through the Seattle library. There wasn't a thing discussed that he didn't know something about and his favorite sport was to play "Do you know?" One did not need Google, just ask Gavin, who was like a walking encyclopedia. Sometimes his imagination exceeded the possible and there was a level of frustrated intellect in his world. He believed the poet who said, "One's reach must exceed one's grasp, else what's a heaven for?"

In many ways he lived life with full oblivion. As a child he would come home from school barefoot because he lost his shoes along the way, absently broke enough eyeglasses to stock an optical store, more often than not forgot the task at hand and delightfully would find his own interests. His favorite creatures were dragons.

Gavin's happiest memories were when he lived in the Black Hills with his family in a hundred-year-old log cabin on two acres, filled with chickens, goats, pigs, geese, cats and a beloved old friend named Shep. His greatest accomplishments were the years he spent in Missoula after Job Corps working as a CNA, and his daughter, Samantha Ayers of Seattle.

At age 7 Gavin intuited he had the same disease as his father, spinocerebellar degeneration. His father died of that disease after 13 years in a VA hospital. Two of his siblings have inherited the disease, which has roared through the family like a freight train. In many ways ataxia was Gavin's "life lesson" and for a long time he felt it was actually a gift and taught him to be a better person. Eventually it became intolerable.

With his own independent style, Gavin put his head into the wind and simply ignored the disease as long as possible. He was one of the bravest people alive and lived with his disease with great courage. He went from a typical young man to life with a cane, then a walker, then an electric wheelchair, often falling off it on a Seattle sidewalk with kind strangers picking him up and putting him back on. He had to be catheterized, couldn't walk and speech became a guessing game of, "OK, I got the first word, let's try more." The last few years, he simply could no longer survive alone, staying with his mom for almost a year in her tiny house and then entering Heritage Place. On his birthday at 48, he began to slowly and courageously allow his life to leak away.

When one dies consciously and deliberately, there can come an incredible depth of wisdom and spirituality. Gavin's last days were like that with both humor and insight. For Gavin, God became all-embracing and more vast than any of us know or imagine with our limited concepts, entirely on a different plane of existence from the concrete literal. For those of us who walked with Gavin through these last long weeks, it has been a profound privilege to share in his dying.

He was preceded in death by his father, George Lewis Schenck.

Thank you to the workers at Heritage Place for so faithfully caring for Gavin through all of his ups and downs. You are appreciated.

Funeral services will be at 2 p.m. on Monday, July 23 at Bet Harim, 475 Eighth Ave. E.N., in Kalispell, followed by a reception at Shining Mountains.

Gavin was joyfully converted to Judaism in June and the family would like memorials sent in Gavin's name to Bet Harim Jewish Community, P.O. Box 364, Kalispell, MT 59903. Gavin chose Judaism because "Jews can argue and are not pinned down by any black and white literal answers and because in Judaism, God is beyond all our limited images, a loving cosmic mysterious eternity." His ashes will be interred in a family plot in Alva, Okla.

"You died, Gavin, knowing how much you are loved. Well done, Gavin. We will miss you."


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: BrixtonWy
  • Added: 22 Jul 2012
  • Find A Grave Memorial 94008727
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Gavin Schenck (18 Jun 1965–20 Jul 2012), Find A Grave Memorial no. 94008727, citing Alva Municipal Cemetery, Alva, Woods County, Oklahoma, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave (contributor 8) .