On February 13, 2020, Vashon Islander Paul Aaron Schuster lost his life unexpectedly. It was a peaceful end, at his home at Alpental - a place he loved. We are reeling still.
He was a dazzling light. A bright star. He felt fortunate to have a bounty of close and long-term friendships, and always kept an lookout for new ones. He chose with care and put the work in.
He loved his family, his friends and his community. He loved to help. He was the guy to call if you were in a pickle, seeking adventure, or needing an ear. He could be ridiculously funny and he could be unsparingly honest. He was an insightful, perceptive and creative teacher. He was kind.
He could not drive past a yard sale.
He was bright, focused and curious. An Eagle Scout from Bothell Troop 429, he never seemed to tire of learning new skills. He always knew the right knot for the job.
Service to community was central to his being, lending many hours and days of focused, deep attention and labor to whatever he was taking on. His work with Vashon Island Fire Department, as a Fire Fighter and officer, EMT, instructor and support were deeply satisfying and engaging. He had looked forward to many years more.
His childhood was spent in what were, in those days, the wilds of Woodinville. He attended Northshore schools through his graduation from Inglemoor High School in 1979.
His approach to life seemed fearless. You could see it, say, at Whitman College, while he played ultimate frisbee on Ankeny Field with his team, the Intuitive Leapers. He had, I’m told, an unorthodox, graceful and confounding style, and he played hard. Quite a sight too - with his gangly deer-legs and striking white-blond Prince Valiant (he cut it himself) hair shining.
He called it “The Sport of the Gods”.
He graduated Whitman with a BA in Math/Physics conferred, in 1983, with minors in Computer Science and Chemistry.
Following that, he worked in the computer software/hardware industry, formed yet another lasting band of brothers, and discovered a new interest - river kayaking.
Once retired, he signed on as a full-time ski patroller at Alpental, where he had volunteered since high school. As demanding as it was beautiful, it was work he truly loved.
A small Buddhist ceremony was held by his side on Friday the 21st. It’s intention meant to guide his soul along to wherever it goes next.
A Celebration of Life gathering will be held at Alpental, at a date to be announced.
He leaves behind his mother, Ann Schuster, brother Mark, sister-in-law Mandy, nephew Lucas, niece Katie - as well as his partner for nearly 20 years, Tracy Barrett.
Our hearts ache with love and loss.
Should you wish, donations may be made in his honor to the Nature Conservancy, ACLU or KUOW.