Barbara Lawlor, Nederland. Rob Schneider loved to tell people that only good luck had saved him from going down with the Andrea Doria on July 25, 1956. He was heading to the United States from his Switzerland home and had reservations on the Italian Ocean Liner, but he missed the boat and had to take a later one.
The Andrea Dorea, touted as the largest, fastest and safest Italian ship made it across the ocean, bound for New York City, just approaching Nantucket, Massachusetts, when it collided with the MS Stockholm. The Andre Dorea immediately listed starboard, resulting in 48 people being killed.
After an amazingly productive life in America, Rob died on Saturday, May 21st, at his home in Greeley, with his wife Annette by his side.
Rob’s legacy in this country included a Swiss Village Hotel and Restaurant in New Glarus, Wisconsin as well as many Nederland landmarks that were the beginning of a new era in the Nederland area.
The mid-1980s were like another boom time in Nederland with a group of people deciding that improvements needed to be made to the allover appearance of Nederland, as well as more amenities, to attract tourists, to expand the town’s economic tax base. In 1984, Rob was the elected president of the Chamber of Commerce.
Rob was born on Feb. 15, 1931 in Zurich, Switzerland. He was married to Hedi Wohler and divorced before he immigrated into the US. He lived in New Glarus, a small town in Wisconsin, where he and his wife Annette owned and operated the New Glarus Hotel, which was modeled after Swiss buildings and exuded the old world charm. A skilled and passionate gardener, Rob planted geraniums to be placed in flower boxes around the town. Both he and Annette were involved and active with tourism and community beautification.
Rob was involved in tourism and business development and became a member of the Wisconsin Governor’s Tourism Advisory Board. He remodeled the 100-year-old hotel, adding Alpin architecture, Swiss style entertainment and Swiss food, including fondue to the guests. Other businesses followed suit and five years later the towns budget went from 1.5 m to 37 m. When Schneider decided to leave, New Glaus ranked fourth in Wisconsin tourism.
He was also a talented yodeler of traditional Swiss style and recorded at least four albums that are still available at the New Glarus library.
Rob and Annette moved to Nederland in the early 1980s and built a chalet style house overlooking Barker Reservoir, with terraces built into the hill where he nurtured his apple, peach and pear trees along with his perennial garden.
Bringing their New Glarus beautification approach to Nederland, Rob began putting his energy into a series of Swiss-architecture designed buildings including Ned’s beloved pedestrian bridge and the visitor center as well as the trail he designed and built along the north side of Barker Reservoir, organizing a crew of volunteers to make the scenic natural walkway that is still used today.
Believing that Nederland could achieve the same economic success if the main part of town was attractive, a pleasing place for people to visit and shop. He stressed that this would require long range planning and the cooperation of the community. He said tax dollars brought in must be returned to benefit the people, perhaps for recreational facilities for the residents.
This was an era that saw the building of a shopping center, a bank, a feed store, a fast food restaurant and a hardware store for the first time in many decades. One of Rob’s first projects was a clean-up program in the downtown area.
“You have to have dreams, but you must build with those dreams to make a reality,” he said.
In 1986, Rob told the Town of Nederland that he would build a pedestrian bridge linking the downtown area with the new shopping center.
He said, “I will build a nice, covered bridge, one that we can all be proud of, from the $30,000 we will get from the county. If it costs more than that, I guarantee that I will pay the difference.”
The Colorado Department of Transportation had planned to widen the bridge over middle Boulder Creek with $30,000 from Boulder County. Widening the bridge and adding a side walk would have cost $92,209. The town council liked Schneider’s idea better. The Chamber of Commerce supported the idea. It took some convincing, but ultimately, Rob built the bridge, which stands today, its flower boxes filled every spring, welcoming visiting pedestrians.
In 1986, Rob was named the Nederland Citizen of the Year. Chamber of Commerce president said, “Rob is constantly involved and everything he does is of such quality.”
He was a cheerful, kind, loving man who did everything he could to make his town and his community a better place to live, and to visit.
Rob and Annette moved to Tucson, Arizona but recently moved back to Colorado to be near family. He will be missed by all those who knew and loved him, but his legacy lives on in Nederland.
Rob is survived by: His wife and partner of over 50 years Annette (Patterson, Sajjadi) of Greeley, CO, daughter Ursula Gallati (Bruno) of Fällanden, Zürich, daughter Romanda “Romy” (Argue) Ferris (Dan) of Overland, MO, son Robert (Kim) of Erie, CO, son Richard (Kwilah) of Cheyenne, WY, son Randall (Cathy) of Littleton, CO. 20 grandchildren: Simone Gallati, Mark Booth, Rachel (Argue) Martell (Michael), Romanda “Mandy” Argue, Samantha Argue, Kellen, Zachary Cole, Caleb, Evan, Ashleigh, Benjamin (Marsha), Charity, Deborah, Elizabeth, Fletcher, Gabriel, Hosea, Ilias, Joseph, Kyrianne. 3 great-grandchildren: Fionna Martell, Graham Martell and Hosanna. Also, a sister-in-law Elsbeth of Schwamendingen, a brother-in-law Otto Schurtenburger of Rorbas and many nieces and nephews and other in-laws in the US and Switzerland.
He was preceded in death by: His parents Robert and Rosa (Buchi) of Zürich, sister Elsa and brother-in-law Albert Troendel of Gebensdorf, brother Hugo of Schwamendingen, sister Olga (Shurtenburger) of Rorbas, step-daughter Susan (Sajjadi-Booth, DDS) Funderburg of Saratoga, CA.
A memorial reception with refreshments will take place at the New Glarus Hotel on Sunday, July 10, 2016 from 1pm – 5pm.
In lieu of flowers, please send memorials to the New Glarus Jodlerklub or Männechor or your local Lion’s Club.