DAVENPORT — As he neared the completion of the ACT college admissions test on that early 1970s summer day, Donald "Duke'' Schneider noticed he had one more "send to'' space available at the top of his test booklet.
"Why not?'' Schneider said over breakfast recently. "I paid for it (the ACT), and I was going to fill that space. I had Southeastern (Community College) and Northeast Missouri State (now Truman State) on there, so I looked up the code for St. Ambrose (College, now University) and wrote it down in that last space.''
Before he knew it, St. Ambrose was in pursuit of the Aquinas High School graduate. He of the strong academic background and experience working at the local radio station and newspaper in Fort Madison, Iowa.
"I was awarded a Presidential Scholarship, made a visit, and my dad crunched the numbers,'' Schneider said of how he made St. Ambrose his higher education destination. "He thought we could swing it.''
In 1972, "Duke'' Schneider became a Bee. He remains a Bee. He will always be a Bee.
Mind you, there were stints at radio stations KBKB in Burlington and KRVR in the Quad-Cities, but they only paved the way for Schneider's true calling.
The opportunity to teach under the guidance of Rev. Charles Shepler, the force behind the St. Ambrose communications program, motivated Schneider to go back to the school he loved.
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The place where he belonged.
"I enjoyed my job at KRVR,'' Schneider said. "It was the perfect landing spot. I was doing news at KBKB — there were three of us — and one day the station manager called us in and told us there would be no more news. It was hard telling people I lost my job, but I was still living at home. The other two guys had apartments and expenses. But things worked out.''
"Worked out'' might be the understatement of all time.
If ever a person was placed in the right spot to educate, mentor and befriend communications hopefuls, Schneider is that person. Few connect with young and old the way he does. Even fewer have the drive, the patience and the foresight on how to send radio, TV and print wannabes into the world.
Schneider's title is SAU-TV operations manager/instructor. He shares an assortment of duties with a communications teaching staff that stacks up with any at the collegiate level.
Schneider, though, has always been more. His phone is filled with messages from former students sharing news about a new job, a journalistic award or a shift in jobs or fields.
He has a 16-page spreadsheet on his home computer of friends he has gathered during his four decades of making a difference in thousands of lives. The next person to stay something bad about "Duke'' Schneider will be the first.
Columnist John Marx can be reached at 309-757-8388 or email@example.com.