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Henry John Schukler, 1928–2022

Kenwood and Sonoma Valley native
Henry John Schukler, 1928–2022

 

Henry “Hank” Schukler, born April 29, 1928, passed away peacefully at his home in Sonoma on Jan. 13, 2022. He was 93 years old and a native of Kenwood and the Sonoma Valley.

Hank was born in Santa Rosa to Agnes (Jelenich) and John Schukler, who both emigrated to the United States from Slovenia in the early 1900s. He went to Dunbar Union Elementary, graduated from Santa Rosa High School, and attended Santa Rosa Junior College.

Hank was drafted into the Army in 1950 during the Korean War, and was stationed in Germany. Upon returning to Kenwood in 1952, Hank operated the Golden Bear Club, the family’s bar and gas station, located on their ranch at the corner of Adobe Canyon Road and Sonoma Highway, which would eventually become the Vineyards Inn restaurant and is now TIPS Roadside. This property has remained in the Schukler family for more than 100 years, and was a great source of pride for Hank.

It was at this time that Hank’s childhood and lifelong good friend, Harry Weise, introduced him to the beautiful and charismatic Elaine Bianchini, whose family operated the Sonoma Grove Resort in town. Elaine and Hank were married on Sept. 12, 1953, at St. Francis Solano Church, with a reception at the Sonoma Mission Inn. The couple began their married life in the Sebastiani cottage on East Fourth Street.

Hank had a successful 30-year career with Del Monte Foods. He covered the entire state of California, purchasing fruits and vegetables for Del Monte and advancing within the company from local buyer to manager of the division of fruit and vegetable purchasing. After his retirement from Del Monte, Hank returned to his roots and operated the family’s Kenwood ranch.

Hank was an avid hunter with a keen shot. Along with his childhood friends and other Sonoma buddies, he hunted locally, in Northern California, and out of state for more than 60 years. He was a founding member and board secretary of his local deer camp on the Kunde Ranch in the mountains of the Sonoma Valley. If it could fly or run, Hank hunted it; just about every bird, duck, deer, and elk in every season. He cherished his deep friendships and the years of good times shared with Harry Weise, Fred and Bobby Kunde, Don Shone, and so many others on those hunting trips.

Hank’s lifelong passion for baseball began while playing for his hometown high school and college teams, and later in the U.S. Army. Hank never lost his enthusiasm for the game and was an ardent fan of the Oakland A’s. He was a season ticket holder for decades and constantly followed (critiqued) their performance.

Hank also had a great fondness for horses, a hobby that he shared with Elaine. While Elaine’s preference was English show riding, Hank was a western cowboy. He rode with the Sonoma County Trail Blazers and enjoyed leisurely weekend rides with his family over the local hills and vineyards.

Hank would be the first to tell anyone that his greatest gift in life was his family. Elaine and Hank’s marriage spanned more than 66 years. They were rarely apart, except for those infamous hunting trips. Hank was a devoted husband and attributed his success in life to Elaine’s enduring love, strength, and support. They had a wonderful life together, traveling often and meeting new people along the way. Elaine and Hank treasured their many friendships.

Hank was a wonderful father to Karen, Steven, and Melissa, and loving Papa to his seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Hank was always available for sage advice, wise counsel, and gentle encouragement. He fostered close relationships with each of his chil- dren and grandchildren. Papa was often the first to know about the little and big happenings, before anyone else. We will all miss him immensely.

Hank was preceded in death by his wife, Elaine Schukler (2019). He is survived by his daughter Karen Andrade (Steve), son Steven Schukler (Deborah), and daughter Melissa Deiro (Paul); grandchildren Anthony Andrade, Danielle Andrade, Gina Dunlay (Zach), Andrea Schukler, Hank Schukler (Samantha), Sofia Deiro, and Dante Deiro; and extended grandchildren Zack Alex, Aaron Alex, and Micah Alex; and great-grandchildren, Brantley Schukler and Claire Schukler.

The family is grateful to Hank’s caregivers for their kind and compassionate assistance. The family plans to have a service and celebration of life later in the spring. Notice will be published, or the family can be reached at [email protected] Should you desire to honor Hank, donations in his memory can be made to Vintage House Sonoma, 264 First Street East, Sonoma, CA 95476; vintagehouse.org.

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