Perhaps more than any other couple in Michigan, Bob and Gretchen have led the ALS community with their advocacy and representation of life with this devastating disease. When they learned of his diagnosis, friends and neighbors within the community of Burns Park, Bob’s neighborhood, formed a grass roots organization called Ann Arbor Active Against ALS (A2A3) to support research and promote advocacy of ALS. A2A3’s fundraising efforts have raised over $800,000 since the formation of the group and will forever be a testament to the community’s fondness for Bob and Gretchen. It was with great sadness and a heavy heart that I learned today of the passing of a great man and dear friend, Dr. Robert (Bob) Schoeni, of ALS. Our Pranger ALS Clinic staff got to know and admire Bob, and his wonderful wife, Dr. Gretchen Spreitzer, in 2008 when he was diagnosed with ALS. We have so much to thank him for: his participation and support of our research and his generosity of time and talents in helping us apply for ALS research grants. Most importantly I am forever grateful for his friendship and the smile I was always met with when I saw him.
Bob lived over 13 years with ALS and set an example for all of us. I would see him often while passing through Burns Park, enjoying the weather in his motorized wheelchair, and going to Michigan sporting events. We had a great time together in 2019 at a basketball event, as seen in the accompanying picture.
As I write this, a 10 point buck (deer) truly has just passed my kitchen window, his head held high…..and I think back on my many memories of Bob. Maybe this buck represents Bob’s saying goodbye, with his strength in body and character, his perseverance in living life to the fullest, and his love for his wonderful family, friends, and neighbors. We will all miss you, Bob.