David Schermer was born in 1950 in Evanston, Ill., the eldest son of Maralyn and Wallace Schermer. His family moved to Albion, Michigan, where David became a Scout while growing up. His scouting exploits instilled a life-long love of nature and the outdoors, and David gained the rank of Eagle Scout before graduating from Albion High School in 1968. He received his undergraduate degree from Michigan State University in 1972 (having the good sense and awareness of music history to attend Woodstock along the way!). After college, David served in rural Arkansas as a volunteer for the AmeriCorps Vista Program.
David learned he had been admitted to Lewis & Clark Law School while sailing off the coast of Mexico in 1975, so he left the Midwest and moved to Portland. While not reading for his classes, David fell in love with the mountains and natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest. After graduating from law school in 1978, he set up his solo law practice in Oregon City. When he was not helping clients with wills or family law matters, he spent every spare moment enjoying the outdoors - road biking, cross-country skiing, hiking and mountaineering were among his favorite ways to spend his weekends and spare time.
David’s love of climbing mountains led him to join the Mazamas Mountaineering Club in 1978, where he became a climb leader and joined expeditions tackling mountains in the U.S., South America and the Himalayas. It was in the Mazamas that he met Pat Haythorn, whom he married in 1984. Sadly, tragedy struck two years later when David and Pat fell while climbing Mt. Hood. Pat did not survive, but David was rescued and recovered from his injuries.
David didn’t allow this terrible accident to turn him away from the outdoor pursuits he loved -- instead, he threw himself into more adventures. In the 1980s, David and a friend cycled across the country from Portland to Washington DC in just 30 days.
In 1989, David met Janice Schermer, a runner who loved the outdoors as much as he did. After David’s version of “dates” -- which consisted largely of arduous climbs and hikes designed to test her mettle -- David realized Janice was the perfect woman for him. Their wedding made him step-father to her two daughters, and the couple became an unstoppable force for outdoor adventures. They climbed mountains, rode Cycle Oregon, and trekked in the Himalayas. Janice and David welcomed two daughters together, who were immediately tossed into a backpack and taken along on family adventures. David especially loved the family getaway house in Joseph, Oregon, where he spent many happy times with family and friends hiking, skiing, and riding bikes in and around the Wallowa Mountains. When his step-daughters and daughter grew up and grandkids increased the family’s numbers, David added birthday parties and other kid activities to his busy schedule -- he relished his role as Grandpa.
David also accomplished a great deal in other aspects of life. He balanced his work and play with being a loving husband and father. He also gave his time and talents to benefit the community, joining Portland Mountain Rescue as a volunteer in 2005 -- a cause that was of course especially important to him. David spent many hours training to hone his search and rescue skills, and participated in many PMR rescue operations. Later, David also volunteered with the Portland Audubon Society. He brewed tasty beer, even if he did not always avoid spilling some of the beer-to-be in the kitchen. Spring and summer weekends usually found David battling weeds, deer, and rabbits to produce an amazing bounty from his garden year after year. He was a zealous fan of the Portland Trailblazers, and cheered them on from his basement sports-watching lair. Through it all, David still found time to bike, hike, run, or swim every day.
The calendar never intimidated David. Even as he neared his seventh decade, David was completing a rim-to-rim-to-rim hike in the Grand Canyon and riding his bike up some of Europe’s biggest climbs. But despite his cycling exploits on some of the world’s great ascents, David’s favorite rides wound through Portland’s West Hills and often ended at the Lucky Lab pub for a beer and slice of pizza.
Tragically, on May 3rd while on one of his normal noontime bike rides, David suffered a fatal crash. He is survived by his wife, Janice, daughters, Erin Leckey, Jamien Leckey, and Maren, his sister, Lisa and four grandchildren. He is preceded in death by his daughter Stephanie, as well as his parents and brother Richard.
There’s no doubt David made the world a better place. For decades he used the law as a tool to help many people. His colleagues at PMR, with whom David trudged through rain and snow day or night to try to save those in danger, noted that he was generous with kindness and a cheerful word. He had many friends with whom he shared countless adventures (and good beers). And he was first and foremost a loving husband, father, and grandfather.
A memorial service for David will take place the end of June, date TBA, at Reedwood Friends Church, 2901 SE Steele St, Portland, OR 97202. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to Friends of Tryon Creek, Nature Conservancy, Portland Mountain Rescue, or the Audubon Society.