Evie, David, Diane, Debbie and Dinah, family and friends of Hilbert Schumacher, whence the joy? For everyone who knew Hib, knew him as a man of joy, a man quick to laugh (and also laugh at himself), usually smiling and invariably friendly and kind. Whence such joy? Some might say: “Oh, well, he was a Schumacher after all!” The Schumachers are notorious for their joy and laughter and easy-going dispositions. But that doesn’t get at the heart of it, for the question persists: WHY are they so?
To get the joy of a Hib Schumacher you have to go back to a cold November day in 1923. It was November 18th. The Church Year was winding down to its close and a Baptism was about to be celebrated. At the ripe age of 10 days, Erwin and Emma bundled up their little Hilbert and hauled him off with joy to the font. It was not in this building, but the old St. Paul’s. Pastor Hansen was waiting for them, and over little Hilbert’s head he poured water at the Lord’s command, saying “Ich taufe dich im Namen des Vaters und des Sohnes und des Heiligen Geistes. Amen.” English services wouldn’t start being held for several more years. Then he put his hand on little Hilbert’s head and prayed a blessing upon him: “Der almächtiger Gott und Vater unsers Herrn Jesu Christi der dich wiedergeboren hat durch das Wasser und dem Heiligen Geist und hat dir alle deine Sünden vergeben, der stärke dich mit seinem Gnade zum ewigen Leben. Amen” That is, The almighty God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has given you the new birth of water and the Holy Spirit, and has forgiven all your sins, strengthen you with his grace to eternal life.
And there’s the secret to Hib’s joy - and the Schumacher joy in general - he lived as a baptized child of God. He knew his sins - which he freely confessed deserved God’s temporal and eternal punishment - had all been forgiven by the Son of God, that he had been adopted into God’s family and given a life that no death could ever take away from him. His family SANG that joy into him over the years and he learned to sing it with them. How could his heart not sing? He had a Savior! His Savior loved HIM! His Savior had wiped out his sins and given him the promise of a home that would be eternal! As Luther once said: “But with a man who belongs to an eternal kingdom all is well, and it is fitting that that he should dance through life forevermore.”
As little Hilbert grew in years, he learned to know ever more about this Savior and to sing His praises with gusto. It was in 1937 that he knelt down before this very altar and hands were laid on him again - Pastor Hansen had died a few years before - so it was Pastor Hennig whose hands were put on Hilbert this time. Again the same prayer was raised, that he be strengthened in the faith he had professed before the altar and remain true to the Blessed Trinity until death. And then a few short days later, on Maundy Thursday, for the very first time the undying Body and Blood of the Son of God were placed into Hilbert’s mouth with the promise of forgiveness renewed and eternal life guaranteed, and a new joy broke forth in his heart and life. The Sacrament would be a solid rock for Hib, a constant source of his joy in Christ, and he received it into his mouth most every week and for the very last time on Monday, the day of his death.
Joys abound in the Lord! And one of Hilbert’s greatest joys was when God gave him the gift of the fetching young Evelyn Sliva to be his life’s companion. They shared together their joy in the Lord and they passed it on to you, their children, and through you to their grandchildren. Family meant so much to him - was life ever better than when gathered together with family, playing cards, laughing and telling stories, and feasting on those famous butterhorns. Joy and more joy.
Isaiah spoke of such a family gathering - a gathering where the Lord spreads the feast to celebrate death’s overthrow, and where His people cry out: “Let us rejoice and be glad in His salvation!” For our earthly family gatherings, blessed are they are, are but types and foreshadowings of that real and final family gathering when the whole family of God is gathered home - a people whose reproach has been taken away by the Crucified and Risen Lord; a people whose sorrows are removed as a nail scarred hand reaches out to wipe the tears from their faces forever. Such a Savior Hilbert had, and so his joy!
St. Paul said it too: “Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I will say: rejoice.” Hilbert would have said: “Well, yeah!” What’s to fear or be worried about? We can take every concern to the Lord in prayer and lay it on Him! We can give thanks all the time. And God gives us a peace that simply defies understanding.
Our Lord spoke of home too - the home He would go to prepare for us. Hilbert lived his life and died his death confident that the Lord had prepared a place for him and for all who came to know Jesus as the way, the truth, and the life. It was gut wrenching to think of leaving you all; but it was also joyful to realize he was only going ahead of you, heading to home with his beloved mother and father, his sisters and brother. Can you even imagine what Irma would have said on Monday? “Well Hilbert! About TIME you got here.” And the laughter that was so familiar to us on earth would ring out with even greater and stronger joy and vigor there.
And the supreme joy of all: to see at last Him in whom he had trusted, whose Words had never let him down, and whose praise he had loved to sing. To see him and know that he would never be parted from that blessed vision ever again. And now he waits for us and he prays for us that we might join him in that bliss, and together with him await the glorious day when that Savior appears again upon this earth and raises our bodies and brings us whole and entire into even greater joy.
Which all sounds wonderful for him, but for us, for you, in the meantime? In the meantime, never forget that you will never be closer to Hib in any place on this earth than when you kneel down at the Lord’s table. He is there, on the other side, the side we can’t see, already enjoying the feast that never ends. And you share it even now with him. When your heart is sore to the point of breaking and you can’t stand how much you miss him, come and feast with him at the Lamb’s table and the joy will return - the joy that animated and filled Hilbert Schumacher for all his life. The joy of sins forgiven and death destroyed. The joy of a Savior, who delights to give us, even as He gave Hib, a life that never ends. Amen.
Hilbert E. "Hib" Schumacher, age 85, of Hamel, died at 10:06 p.m., on Monday, Sept. 7, 2009, at Anderson Hospital in Maryville. He was born on Nov. 10, 1923, in Alhambra, the son of the late Erwin E. and Emma M. Blase Schumacher.
He married Evelyn Marie Sliva on May 13, 1945, at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Hamel. She survives.
Along with his wife, he is survived by a son: David Schumacher of Edwardsville; three daughters: Diane and Joe Hotz of Durham, N.C., Debbie and Chuck Rathert of Edwardsville and Dinah and Rev. Randall Schultz of Burton, Mich.; a brother: Elmer and Inez Schumacher of Glen Carbon; two sisters: Helen Klausing of Troy and Ruth and Albert Ernst of Hamel; 10 grandchildren: Kristin and Dr. Jim Powell, Nathan and Beth Schumacher, Simon and Emily Hotz, Andrew Hotz, Katie and Jason Kosten, Annie and Jarrod Frey, Joe Rathert, Michael Schultz, Joel Schultz and David Schultz; and three great grandchildren: Adam Powell, Tyler Powell and CeCe Belt. Along with his parents, he was preceded in death by a brother: Erwin Schumacher Jr.; and two sisters: Hilda Moehle and Irma Ernst.
Mr. Schumacher was born and raised in Alhambra Township. He graduated from Edwardsville High School, in Edwardsville, in 1942. He worked for a short time for Hamel Telephone Co., and then for Cassens Transport Co., as a parts manager; and then for 27 years for Klaustermeier Ford in Alhambra as a manager, which the last three years was called Tri Ford, until retiring in 1988. He was currently and had been the Hamel Township Supervisor since 1975.
He enjoyed woodworking. [And had missing digits to prove it] His memberships include St. Paul Lutheran Church in Hamel, St. Paul's Mens Club and the Madison County Fireman Association.