Obituary of Dr. Cynthia Wood Schuetz
Dr. Cynthia Wood Schuetz died July 30, 2019, of brain cancer at the age of 75. Cynthia was born on December 28, 1943 to Fred and Gladys Schuetz in New York City. Her family moved to Kansas City Missouri at age 5 and she attended grade school and high school there. She received her BA from William Jewel College.
After working in retail and for the Office of Economic Opportunity for a few years she moved to Stockton with her first husband where she worked for Planned Parenthood. She then earned her Masters of Public Health (MPH) at San Jose State University. Cynthia then moved to Carbondale Illinois where she earned her PhD in Community Health Education at Southern Illinois University. In Carbondale she also met the man who was to become the love of her life, Jim Perkins.
Upon completion of her doctorate, she and Jim moved to the Bay Area where she took a faculty position in the Department of Community Health Education at Francisco State University. She served at SFSU for twenty years including tenures as chair of the department and coordinator of the graduate program. She was also active in faculty governance across the campus. Jim meanwhile earned his doctorate in Public Health Education at the University of California Berkeley School of Public Health.
When she decided she had enough of academia and big city life, she and Jim moved to Grass Valley in 1998 where, after teaching health education for 20 years, she became a practitioner. She had a variety of contracts with the County and other organizations, and for 10 years served as coordinator of the Falls Prevention Coalition of Nevada County. There she educated seniors about reducing the risks of falling and held an annual event that drew up to 250 people. During that time she discovered academic research showing that seniors who sang in a chorus had overall better health and fewer falls than those who didn’t. That inspired her to found the Forever Young Senior Chorus, which in 5 years has grown from 12 to over 40 participants. The chorus sings at senior residences around the county, at some conferences and at the county fair. The success of the chorus was one of her proudest accomplishments.
Cynthia was a beloved teacher who used participatory learning to involve her students. She was an effective community organizer with a courageous candidness that deepened relationships. She was a natural leader who gravitated naturally to leading groups in which she was participating. She was known for her infectious enthusiasm for the things she cared about. She loved nature and the mountains, poodles and giraffes, Africa, movies and plays and good food. Married for 38 years, she and Jim were close companions who shared many common interests and pleasures. They have been active members of the Unitarian Universalist Community of the Mountains where they found a wonderful sense of community and a commitment to acting for social justice.
She is survived by her husband Jim Perkins, her poodle Calli and her cousin Marcia Dittmaier in Florida.
A celebration of Cynthia’s life will be held on Saturday, September 21 at 1:00 pm at the Grass Valley United Methodist Church, next door to UUCM at 236 Church Street. The public is invited.
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