OBITUARY: Fredrick Paul (Fritz) Schilling Dec. 3, 1928–Jan. 1, 2014

FREDRICK PAUL (FRITZ) SCHILLING  Dec. 3, 1928–Jan. 1, 2014

Fritz Schilling was born Dec. 3, 1928 in Missoula, Montana and died Jan. 1, 2014 in Boise Idaho, after a year’s battle with deteriorating health and an auto accident Dec. 29 outside Boise.

He was preceded in death by his parents Paul and Ellen Schilling, sister Jeanene, son Jeffery, and beloved wife of 40 years, Lucille. He is survived by his brother David Schilling and wife Tedi, son Philip Schilling and wife Anna Kuo, son Scott Schilling and wife Lori, daughter Keturah Schilling Shepard and husband David Shepard, grandsons Isaac Schilling, Ben Schilling, Sihler Shepard, and Pierce Shepard, companion of the last 13 years Gloria Cartan and many cousins, nieces and nephews.

Fritz grew up in Missoula, Mont., and attended college in Bozeman, Mont. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering and went to work in Idaho Falls. He returned to school in Bozeman to complete a Doctorate in Chemical Engineering. There he met the love of his life Lucille Leon Heron, thanks to wonderful (lifelong) friends Jack and Marilyn Asbridge.

He graduated in 1959 and moved with his new wife, Lucille, to Los Alamos, New Mexico. Fritz worked at the Los Alamos Scientific (National) Laboratory, first in the nuclear reactor program, then in the computing group, where he was privileged to be on the first programming team that tested an early Honeywell computer prior to their mass commercialization. The team was only allowed to work on the machine in the evenings because, during the day, it was on display for prospective buyers. The Honeywell engineers began watching Fritz’s team work because this was their first opportunity to see a computer being programmed for control and data logging. 

Fritz worked for many years as the Group Leader of the Laboratory non-weapons engineering group and particularly loved working in the old Pajarito Elementary School where he was close to home and could ride his bicycle. Fritz advanced to Deputy Division Leader in WX and retired in 1990. Shortly after retiring, Fritz and Lucille moved to Silver Gate, Mont., where they built their dream log home on land they purchased while they were still in college.

Fritz loved the outdoors; hiking, skiing, hunting and fishing. He was a great father, who enjoyed taking his family on many trips involving these and other activities. The family also went on an annual Montana trip to visit the many relatives, the Silver Gate property, and dream about building “the cabin.” 

Fritz was a member of the Smokejumpers, an elite airborne firefighter group in Missoula. He jumped in the summers of ’48 and ’49. He was friends with all of the smokejumpers killed in the Mann Gulch Fire on Aug. 5, 1949. Fritz’s picture is on the cover of the book, Young Men and Fire, by Norman Maclean. Fritz was active in the ski patrol at Pajarito Mountain in Los Alamos. He continued his service in Silver Gate by joining the search and rescue team, and also helped the Forest Service spot out-of-bound snowmobilers.

During retirement, Fritz enjoyed teaching his grandkids how fly fish and drive ATVs. One of Fritz’s greatest joys was finding out where dirt roads went. He went on many long drives through the woods just to see where he would end up.

In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the Missoula Smoke Jumpers Association, the Cooke City School, EMS, or Search and Rescue, or to your favorite charity.

A memorial service may be planned in Silver Gate in the summer.

Missoula Smokejumpers
Aerial Fire Depot
5765 West Broadway
Missoula, MT 59808

Cooke City School
P.O. Box 1070
Cooke City, MT 59020
P.O. Box 1203
Cooke City, MT 59020
Search and Rescue
P.O. Box 1033
Cooke City, MT 59020