Bill Schultz, a two-term Nevada County Supervisor and one of the founders of what is now Community Recovery Resources, died Nov. 27.
Those who knew Schultz well said his work in establishing a recovery program for alcoholics and addicts saved an untold number of lives.
But Schultz’s dedication to his community went above and beyond — from Rotary to Alcoholics Anonymous, from the fair board to the Salvation Army, to his habit of providing barbecue at minimal cost to many nonprofit events with his mobile chuck wagon.
Schultz battled his own alcoholism, he told The Union in a 1999 interview. His own family had a sad history with booze, he said — his stepfather was a violent drunk who killed his mother, two brothers died from drinking and an adult daughter was murdered by a man who was high at the time.
Schultz casually recited his own history as “an obnoxious drunk,” although he said there were long dry spells when he tried to kick the habit. Schultz said he sipped his last drink in 1983.
After growing up in dozens of homes, Schultz found permanence in the Navy, where he spent 12 years, followed by another 19 years in the Reserves. He later became a business leader in Nevada County and eventually owned several gas stations.
He helped start the Nevada County Council on Alcoholism in 1974 after then-Judge Karen Gunderson suggested it. He eventually changed the organization’s name to Nevada County Substance Abuse and Treatment Recovery Program to broaden the emphasis from simply alcohol abuse, explained CORR’s current CEO, Warren Daniels.
“We always had a problem with the name being too long,” Daniels said. “And it really didn’t speak to how our programs were evolving to be more community-focused.”
The name was changed to Community Recovery Resources in 2002, after Schultz retired from heading the organization and Daniels took his seat.
“We started focusing more on families and how alcoholism and drug addiction affect the family, the community and our kids,” Daniels said.
And Schultz was a vital part of that work.
“I had the honor of being his (board) president,” said longtime friend Chuck Ryan. “It was pretty special.”
Schultz’s tenacity kept the organization afloat during tough times, Ryan said.
“What I admired about Bill was the tremendous effort he put into the community for recovery,” he said. “He was fantastic. He brought more people into recovery programs than anybody in this county. He was a real solid advocate of recovery — he lived it and he walked the talk.”
Daniels, who calls Schultz his mentor, concurred.
“His presence commanded recognition,” Daniels said. “When he would sit down and talk to you, you felt like you were being addressed by someone who really cared and was concerned. He had a way of talking with people that was second to none. He went through a lot of hell in his life with his alcoholism … Bill took recovery extremely seriously.”
Schultz ruffled some feathers during his time in politics, according to those who knew him.
He served as county supervisor from 1986 to 1994; during that time he also served on the California Association of Counties and the Regional Council of Rural Counties, said current Supervisor Hank Weston.
During his eight years on the board, Schultz helped close the county landfill and establish the existing transfer station, Weston said.
He also was a big proponent of the Penn Valley wastewater treatment plant and the widening of Pleasant Valley Road after the 49er Fire.
“He was a very outspoken guy but always willing to listen,” Weston said. “There was never any doubt where Bill was coming from on any specific issue, but he would be funny on how he approached it.
“He could harass you unmercifully, but at the end of the day, he was there to support the county.”
“One thing about Bill, you always knew what his feelings were,” said fellow Rotarian Monty East. “He expressed them openly. If he offended somebody, that’s the way it was. He told it the way he saw it.
“When someone high-profile does that, some won’t like it,” East continued. “But many more people loved him for his honesty. I thought he was just a super example of someone who had come up the hard way in many ways, served his country, made something out of himself in the mainstream of politics and still remained a down-home type of guy
“He was a great booster of the fair, he loved the livestock auction, he loved to help the kids — he was just great that way. I can’t say enough about him and his involvement. He had a heart as big as Nevada County, and he showed it all the time. He was for the underdog and he tried to help any way he could.”
Schultz did an enormous amount of work to help a number of nonprofits in the community, his friends and family said.
“He just had so much going on in his life. There was no part of the community that I knew of that he didn’t touch,” Daniels said. “He really had his fingers in so many things and his hands out to help people in all walks of life.”
A private family service is being planned for later this month with a public memorial to be held at the fairgrounds in January, said son Adam.
To contact City Editor Liz Kellar, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4229.