The Saddest Post in the Whole Wide World

Adults with Down Syndrome, Aging, Community Participation, Courage, Disability, Down Syndrome, Education, Employment, Family, Friends, Inclusion, Inspiration, People with Disabilities, Special Education, Teaching, Western Carolina University Add comments

Billy Schulz, 56. We are going to miss you.

William Robert Schulz

Kingsport — William Robert “Billy” Schulz, 56, born January 28, 1956, died peacefully on September 2, 2012, after a period of declining health.

Billy was a beloved and influential member of his family, and an ambassador of goodness wherever he went. His cheerfulness and optimism contributed to the communities in which he worked and worshipped.

In April, Billy received his ten-year pin for his work as a bagger at Food City, where he worked at Eastman Road and Colonial Heights branches. He was an active member of First Broad Street United Methodist Church, where he returned their warm welcome to Kingsport by welcoming church members frequently as an usher. He belonged to TeamMates and loved singing at One Thing.

Prior to moving to Kingsport in 2001, Billy worked in Cullowhee, NC, at Western Carolina University’s Hunter Library for 21 years as a security book handler. He was a member of Sylva’s First United Methodist Church, where he was a regular usher for over two decades. Billy graduated from Cullowhee High School in 1977.

Born with Down Syndrome, Billy’s special needs directed the career of his mother, Jane B. Schulz. Billy and Jane inspired thousands of people during their teamwork together, modeling for all how much can be accomplished in life with determination, humor, love, and courage. Jane wrote her memoir, “Grown Man Now,” about her life with Billy, who has been a devoted and generous caretaker to his mother in these later years.

From the Office of the Chancellor, Western Carolina University:
“In recognition of Mr. Schulz’s achievements, service and cultural contributions to the betterment of society, he was scheduled to receive an honorary degree, a Doctor of Humane Letters, from Western Carolina University alongside his mother, Dr. Jane B. Schulz. The award honors Mr. Schulz for not only developing skills, talents and creativity beyond his expectations but also courageously sharing his experiences in presentations at community, university, regional and national events to help dispel negative stereotypes of people who have disabilities and encourage all to seek their full potential. The honor will be bestowed posthumously during WCU’s fall commencement exercises on Dec. 15.”

A music, television and movie buff, Billy created an impressive collection of recordings, and enjoyed discussing these topics and telling jokes. He was a complex and spiritual person; his love and concern for others were boundless. His deep, abiding, and long-lasting relationships with others were inspirational and far-reaching. His loss is keenly felt by Billy’s communities and family. Surviving him are his mother; two brothers, John and Tom Schulz, and his sister Mary de Wit; their spouses, Dekie, Sheila, and Jos; Billy’s nieces, Carrie Schulz and Mary Geitner; and his nephews, Paul (Edna), John Robert (Christine), and Isaac Schulz; and Daniel and Warren de Wit.

A memorial service for Billy will be held at First Broad Street UMC of Kingsport on Saturday, September 8, at 3:00 p.m. with a reception following. Memorial contributions may be made to: The Jane Schulz Scholarship Fund / Western Carolina University / 401 Robinson Admin. Bldg. / Cullowhee, NC 28723; or to the Billy Schulz Memorial Prayer Garden Fund at First Broad Street UMC / 100 E. Church Circle / Kingsport TN 37660.

49 Responses to “The Saddest Post in the Whole Wide World”

  1. Ramona Eddy Says:

    Billy was a beautiful young man to teach. He use to move the furniture around in my classroom, always redecorating. He had a beautiful soul. My love to the family, Ramona Eddy

  2. Kelly Ray Schwenk Says:

    I am saddened beyond words. Billy’s beautiful life greatly influenced my life and the lives of countless special needs children subsequently under my care. He was kind, funny and personable.I will never forget him coming to speak to a class of future educators at WCU. He was poised, calm and very informative. He was a dear sweet man. Thank you Billy for all you taught me.

  3. Linda Coffey Says:

    Billy had such a gift for making others feel special and loved. His life has been such an influence on me and on my career. I feel like a part of my heart left this earth with Billy….but I know that he would want me to live out his example by welcoming others and being happy every day!

  4. Pollye Pruitt Says:

    Oh, no, I am so sorry. I’m sorry I have not been to visit lately. I will see you Saturday. RIP, Billy, from Charlie and me.

  5. Lynne Johnson Says:

    Billy was a very,very dear man and he and his mother were an inspiration to so many folks around here. My husband and I are still living in our wonderful home that Tom built 28 years ago when we first met the Shulz family….you are in our prayers and we offer our heartfelt sorrow for the loss of a very special man.

  6. Madge Stillwell Says:

    Our family, as well as our church family at Sylva First United Methodist, was so sad to hear about Billy’s passing. Such a special light he was! Billy was loving and so loved. Jane, you and the rest of your family are in our thoughts and prayers.

  7. Kristy Swan Ikenberry Says:

    Jane, I have such fond memories of you and Billy at Sylva First UMC. It makes me smile to think of Billy – what a special soul from God that was put on this earth to touch so many lives!

  8. Terrye Walsh Says:

    My sister is Pollye Pruitt and I learned about Billy some time ago when she told me about him. I am so sorry to hear that he is gone. I read your mother’s book “Grown Man Now” and was so impressed by her strength and determination to assure that Billy suceeded as a “Grown Man”. She gave me hope and inspiration for my own special needs son who will one day soon be a grown man. My thoughts and prayers will be with her and all of Billy’s family and friends over the coming days as you say goodbye to such a extraordinary man.

  9. Vickie Ansley Says:

    I met Billy while taking special education classes at WCU. He had such a sweet spirit and was so motivational. Dr. Schultz and her work with Billy and other students were such an inspiration to me and shaped so much of my philsophy about education and the true meaning of leave no child behind.

  10. Robin Says:

    So sorry for your loss, Billy was always kind and would make sure that you was smiling before you left foodcity, he would always help no matter if you needed it or not and every time I would take my boys with me he would make sure to say hi and talk to them. Billy will be missed but not forgotten he touched every one he came in contact with and made them smile.

  11. Dona West Says:

    I often think of Billy and his Mom as I work with Children that have great disabilities. Jane was my mentor when I started teaching and taught me so much in how to get what I wanted and what the kids needed. Billy taught me that I should never underestimate what a child can accomplish with help. His sense of humor set me free in my approach to teaching and helped me continue all these years.
    Billy was lucky to be born into the family he has and his family was so very blessed to have him with them all these years. My thoughts and prayers are with them.

    Happy travels Billy, wish we could see the pictures.

  12. nikki Says:

    I always remember Billy’s smile at Food City! He was so kind and always made ME smile. Kingsport lost a great man.

  13. Sheila Blackwell Says:

    My heart goes out to you, Jane, and your family at this time. Billy was such a special person. I remember him from days when we all were employed at WCU. I also remember the times I spent in your homes. Billy had a mobile home behind his moms that I used to clean for him as well as I cleaned for you too Jane. I so enjoyed talking and laughing with Billy. He was an inspiration to me in so many ways. May God Bless You All,

  14. Jeff W Johnston Says:

    Billy was truly an inspiration to many – – – I was always very humbled to watch him work out our S.H.O.U.T! classes and to share his outlook on life. Billy always smiled and used “gifts” to help others. To God be the glory and thanks for his mom – – – a true servant leader in every since of the word.

  15. David Westling Says:

    Billy Schulz was a quiet hero. Without always knowing it, he made the world a better place for so many people. And many of those people, who like Billy need the love and support of others to to live a full life, are benefitting from a man that they never knew.

    Billy, you did good work on this earth. Now, rest in peace.

  16. Dale Carpenter Says:

    Billy always asked how I was and how my wife, Kim, was doing even though a lot of time would pass since he had last seen me. I have never known a person with so much joy and compassion for others and I’ve always wished I were more like Billy.
    Billy was fortunate to have a wonderful family and they were fortunate to have him. We were all fortunate to know Billy and we will all miss him.

  17. Lisa Bloom Says:

    Billy inspired so many people including me. I know he will continue to do so through the legacy of his presentations, Grown Man Now, and the thousands of lives he touched. I will miss you Billy but know that you spread cheer through the heavens.

    Lisa Bloom

  18. Becky Garland Says:

    I met Billy this spring at WCU at a presentation he and his mom made on campus. I also knew Billy as a young student at WCU in the 80’s. He was an inspiration then to me and became a bigger inspiration when my first born son was diagnosed with Down Syndrome 23 years ago. David is now a student at WCU in the UP Program which I feel is as a legacy of Billy and Dr. Schultz’s work. Billy will always be the inspiration to my David who reminds me so much of Billy in so many ways. My heart is broken but I know that heaven has wlecomed another angel home.

  19. Renee Coward, NCCAT Dir. of Programming Says:

    Both Billy and Jane served as presenters for the NC Center for the Advancement seminars, Teaching Every Child: Inclusive Classrooms. They both touched many, many teachers’ lives. One teacher’s comments reflect the power of their presentations: “I am so thankful to all of the presenters. Some made me realize how important diversity and inclusion are and some made me realize the kind of teacher I hope to be.” Please accept NCCAT’s condolences to all of Billy’s family and friends.

  20. Glenda Hyer Says:

    Billy was such an inspiration to many people. I was grateful to get to hear his life story at WCU. What a blessing and encouragement his story was to me! Thank you Billy!

  21. Pauletta Clark Says:

    Oh my dear Jane, you know this breaks my heart so…you were such an inspiration when my daughter Erika was born 20 years ago with downs syndrome. I saw what Billy was doing and how he had touched the community and I had hope that no doctor had given me. As a mom that has a very special child I am scared and saddened to think of the future of my Erika I am also blessed as you were by an amazing human being that keeps everyday in prespective for me. Jane thank you, thank you for paving that road for me and others and thank you Billy for just being the best example of human kind…and I know you are probably running the heavenly chior right now. Sing on Billy and keep an eye on all of us.

  22. Gurney Chambers Says:

    Billy is gone but what Billy was will linger with those of us who knew him for as long as we live. While Mother Nature was not kind to him, he more than any person I have ever known made the most of what he was given. Our memories of what Billy was will continue to brighten our lives and serve as a reminder of the positive difference a person who is authentic to the core, whatever his innate abilities, can make in the lives of others.

  23. Kirk Stephens Says:

    Thirty years ago, I worked at the A&P in Sylva, where Billy and Jane were regular shoppers. The entire A&P gang loved Billy. He always had a smile and a good word for us. I’m sure Billy, like everyone, had his bad days, but in the seven years I worked there, I honestly don’t ever remember him being in a bad mood. He was and is an inspiration. I’m so sorry to hear of his passing and I think it’s absolutely a miracle the way his spirit will live on in the lives of all those who were lucky to meet him during his journey through this world.

  24. Sharon Dole Says:

    My heart goes out to Billy’s family at this great loss. Billy touched the lives of so many people and will be fondly remembered by all.

  25. Justine Says:

    This is the saddest post in the whole world. I am so sorry for your loss. Billy has inspired me and encouraged me. You will never know how many hearts he has touched.

  26. Sandra B. Johnson Says:

    The greatest compliment I ever received was from Billy. Many years ago we were at a get-together at his parents’ home and he looked at me and said, “Sandra, you are so beautiful!” He made my day! It was from his heart and was not based on anything superficial. I needed that then, and it touched my heart! I will never forget Billy and his jokes, his sunny disposition, Tom Jones, and his smile! I have not seen Billy in many years, but he has always been in my heart! Billy, you were beautiful!

  27. Beth Resler Walters Says:

    I and other members of our Faith and Arts class at Myers Park Baptist in Charlotte often cite to each other spiritual lessons we learned from Billy via his brother, a class member. Billy influences how we treat other people, strangers, in places such as the check-out line at a store, for example. Then, when I finally met Billy, I found him so easy to connect with and became a Facebook friend. It all was a privilege — and one I never will lose. Thank you, Billy.

  28. Robin Says:

    I will miss Billy coming into the Video Department at Food City and having me read the back of each movie that peaked his interest. He had a head full of knowledge about movies and many other things, but he also had a heart full of love! I was blessed to have been allowed to know him.45EH

  29. Donetta Peirce Says:

    ..So sorry to hear of Billy’s passing. He was always so friendly & nice to me when bagging my groceries may GOD bless you and comfort you!

  30. Carmaletta and David Gates Says:

    Jane and Family, We are so very saddened by Billy’s passing. He was a very special person and impressed everyone he met, with his wonderful sense of humor. He will be sorely missed by everyone who knew him. Jane, we are thinking of you, we are super busy this weekend and will not be able to be there, but you are in our thoughts and prayers, we love you.

  31. Sumara Says:

    Billy was such a sweet person. I remember him from when I worked in the deli at Food City in Colonial Heights. He would alwayse have us put back some egg roles for him. He was so kind and could brighten the most darkest day. My heart goes out to your whole family

  32. nikki Says:

    also – I remember one time he bought me a rose and gave it to me in the check out line. Made my day.

  33. Theda Haney Says:

    Dearest Jane and family,
    May God comfort you and give you peace. I can’t say enough about everything Billy gave to me but he was my teacher! I will always love and cherish Billy’s memory!

  34. Sarah Lowell Says:

    Dear Jane,
    I love you and I am very sorry to hear of Billy’s passing. He had a great life thanks to the best mom and teacher in the whole world. I am thinking of you-together you both touched the lives of so many people and made a difference in this world. I will forever appreciate and love you both.

  35. The Billy Schulz Memorial Prayer Garden Fund « johntheplantman's Landscaping Ideas from a Veteran Gardener Says:

    […] obituary may be found on Billy’s web blog, The Saddest Post in the Whole Wide World Billy-Schulz-A kind, loving, and courageous Gentleman (pic In2Wit LLC) Rate this:Share this:Like […]

  36. James and Vicki Harrison Says:

    We are so sorry to hear of Billy’s passing. We have our fond memories of our special friend Billy to hold in our hearts. We send Jane and the family our deepest sympathy and please know, you all are in our prayers.

  37. Dorothy Wallin Says:

    Sweet, smiling Billie — I will miss your wonderful Sunday morning hug. You have been such a “contributor” and have filled so many with so much hope and joy. I think that in your honor I will have a big tasty glazed doughnut!! I will savor a bite for you. Love and hugs, Dorothy

  38. Mandi Mittelsteadt Says:

    I am so sadden to hear of Billy’s passing. I started my career at the FC in Colonial Hgts.. Billy and I would laugh and take breaks together. Even after I went to a different FC I would stop by to visit my old store. We always greeted each other with a hug and a kiss on the cheek. He was an amazing man and will be greatly missed. If everyone in this world was like Billy then the world would be a much better place. I am not sure if he had any idea of how many lives he tocuhed but they were endless. He was so loved and always will be. My sincere condolences. R.I.P. sweet Billy.

  39. Barbara Monday Says:

    I just heard this sad news and I cannot imagine this world without Billy in it.
    Our deepest sympathy to Jane, John and the rest of the family.

  40. April Griffin Says:

    I loved working with Billy and was so happy when he moved to Colonial Heights. Billy made every day a great day. No matter what was going on or going wrong Billy would swoop in with one “your so preety” and all was ok. Billy taught us all to be happy and greatfull for everyday. My son Alex is deaf and has Autism, he is unable to speak. I loved to talk to Billy I felt like it was stuff Alex and I would talk about if we could. Billy gave me such great hope and inspiration for Alex and his future. Colonial Heights will never be the same with out him.

  41. James Alexander Jr Says:

    It was with the saddest heart that I received the news of the passing of our dear, dear Billy. What a wonderful, giving and inspirational person! Billy touched the hearts of all who had the opportunity to know him. I especially know how much he meant to my Mom, Almetto Alexander and to all in our extended family. Billy made his mark! He will be missed.

  42. Marty Dedrick Says:

    It’s not gonna be First Broad Street without Billy’s smiling face. I am so glad about the Prayer Garden in his honor. I wish we could all take an example from his life and conduct ourselves has he did. We would all be better for it. My prayers are surrounding his family….may peace surround you!

  43. Almetto H. Alexander Says:

    September 7, 2012

    Dr. Jane Schultz
    4013 Hemrock Park Dr.
    Kingsport, TN 27663

    Dear Dr. Schultz and Family:

    It really breaks my heart to hear of the loss of Billy, who captured the hearts of all whom he came in contact with. He touched the hearts of “Almetto Howey Labyrinth Foundation”; its Board Members; and me especially. Billy left great memories with and for all of us at the Charlotte, NC dedication ceremony for our labyrinth project. We continue to think about Billy’s participation and how much he enthusiastically contributed to the program. He did a wonderful job putting the cards together and added so much to the Foundation program. Yes, I Mrs. Almetto Alexander will always love Billy and his family.

    Ecclesiastes 3:1-3
    “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:
    A time to be born and a time to die…”

    This is what Billy has done; and has beat us to the end. He is in heaven now; with angels all around him.
    As I, Almetto, talked with Tom and the questions Billy asked him; it does sound as if his journey is complete. Our sympathy is with you all.

    Finding Billy’s website,, where Billy posted about his trip to Charlotte on March 16, 2011 and described what he called a “big, big celebration”, was so touching and caring and will always be remembered by the foundation.

    Our sympathy is with you all.

    Almetto Howey Alexander Labyrinth Foundation
    by: Almetto H. Aleander, Chairman
    by: Harriett Aexander Whiting, Co-Chair

  44. Sandy Moore Smith Says:

    Dearest Dr. Schultz,
    Nancy Dixon sent me notice of Billy’s new life in heaven. I am happy for him, but sad for you. I know how much you loved that sweet, special son of yours! Please know that I am thinking of you and sending you special prayers and warm loving thoughts as you and your family deal with his earthly departure. My fondest memory of Billy is when he introduced me to the ducks in your pond, Barney and Thelma Lou. I will never forget that beautiful autumn day.
    I love you deeply Dr. Schultz. You are my hero!

  45. Josie Reid Says:

    Dear Jane,
    God trusted you with Billy and you honored that trust so beautifully.
    Now you can trust God with Billy……and you.

  46. Angie Pennington Knight Says:

    Dear Jane-
    As I read all these heartfelt posts regarding your precious Billy, it brings me back to the late 80s and the kindling of my life passion- working with children, particularly those God has blessed us with who have special needs. As I reflect, I have always known that you and Billy kindled that fire in me and I am eternally grateful for the life lessons you taught me. Rest in Peace now sweet man…your work on Earth will last in many hearts forever. Jane-may you have the comfort from the One who has always been holding Billy’s other hand.
    Much Love,
    Angie Pennington Knight-Robbinsville,NC

  47. Ellen Bacon Says:

    I just got this sad news and know that there are many heavy hearts grieving for him. Billy Schulz added so much joy to everyone who knew him. Like Jane, he was an excellent teacher and taught us so much about what is important in life for all of us. I can see his smile and feel his warmth now even though I haven’t seen him for years.

    He had a joy-filled, giving life and left friends throughout the country who feel this loss to the world – a tribute to him and his family.
    Love to all,

  48. Dianne Prohn Says:

    Jane, thoughts and prayers. Not only have you lost a son, but your best buddy in the world. Billy sure reflected the beauty of life, love and family. He taught all us how to live a simpler life full of gratitude. He has forever touched the lives of thousands and will be remembered for those life lessons. Praying for you and and your family for the loss of a beautiful spirit! May his memory carry on!

  49. Steve Sigmon Says:

    Regarding the Graduation at WCU, the luncheon, and the awards ceremony today where honorary degrees were conferred to Dr. Schulz and Billy, Dec 15, 2012.

    We had not seen Dr. Schulz or her family for many years, but today was a healing balm for us, healing our absence.

    When you are in the presence of someone you deeply love, God is there in the midst helping to convey through the Spirit what words may be found inadequate.

    Today, Dr Schulz was surrounded by loving colleagues, friends, family, and community, and so there was also God speaking to and through her. Many lovely words and thoughts and hugs were exchanged by everyone present, and we found her unchanged by these temporary physical conditions that interrupt her stride. She is the same wonderful, generous, graceful, thoughtful, loving, caring person that we so dearly remember, only more so, graced by time and tempered by the fires of the daily and yearly challenges she has faced.

    Around every table, people were discussing how knowing Billy changed their lives, their outlook on life, and how the Jane-Billy connection exceeded all known boundaries for life in abundance. Personal stories were shared as examples, and everyone had both a common story and something unique to them. To a person, love flowed out to Dr. Schulz and to Billy’s spirit. We were blessed to be there, to be included, to be invited, to be loved, in this generous way.

    Dr. Billy was present there, too.

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