Glen Schaller
Glen Schaller

Obituary of Glen Erik Schaller

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Glen Erik Schaller, longtime community activist and recently retired political coordinator at the Monterey Bay Central Labor Council, died unexpectedly in his Santa Cruz home on October 30. Over a long and varied career, Glen was an early childhood education teacher, community organizer, political campaign strategist and tactician, and noted ally of the LGBTQ+ community. He devoted his life to public service, social and economic justice, civil rights, and the preservation of our democracy. Glen was born in Huntington, Long Island, NY, and raised in East Northport, NY. He learned the value of public service early on from his parents, Ferdinand D. Schaller, Jr., who served as deputy director of the Suffolk County Office of Emergency Preparedness; and his mother, Barbara H. Dukinfield Schaller, who immigrated to the U.S. from England as a young child and later served as deputy town clerk of Huntington, NY. Growing up in a large family of brothers and one sister, Glen enjoyed exploring and bicycle camping. He graduated from Northport High School in 1974, where he was deeply impacted by a class project to restore a beach dunes habitat. This was an experience in which he first felt the power of working with others as a team to make positive change in the world. After high school, Glen hitchhiked all over the U.S. for several years, spending time working in a forestry service tree nursery in Oregon, and enjoying the music, food and culture of New Orleans. His travels eventually brought him to Santa Cruz, where he immediately fell in love with the community and chose it as his permanent home. Glen worked as an early childhood education teacher for 26 years, working with infants, toddlers and preschoolers. He was trained through the Cabrillo College Early Childhood Education Program and was a pioneering male childcare teacher in a predominately female field. He took care of hundreds of children and nurtured their families. Glen was especially drawn to working with children who were having behavioral difficulties. He worked at Johnny Crow’s Garden, Neighborhood Child Care Center, Soquel Parent Education Nursery School, the Granary Child Development Center, and the UCSC Family-Student Housing Children’s Center, among others. During his early years in Santa Cruz, Glen’s activism included campaigns against apartheid and nuclear power, and in support of affordable housing and rent control. He was also a founding member of the Santa Cruz Community Credit Union. Glen had a long career in politics and community organizing. He served as coordinator of the Santa Cruz Action Network (SCAN) and the local campaign to defeat Proposition 8, which banned same-gender marriage. He worked as a campaign manager, strategist and volunteer for hundreds of campaigns for ballot measures and candidates, at the local, state and national level, even traveling to Texas to assist Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. Glen’s get-out-the-vote drives and early morning doorhanger distribution campaigns were legendary. Glen was recognized for his steadfast work as an ally of the LGBTQ+ community. He was chosen as “Ally of the Year” in 1987 and was honored to serve as a Grand Marshal of the 2009 LGBTQ+ Pride March in Santa Cruz. A proud college re-entry student, Glen graduated from UC Santa Cruz in 2006 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in American Studies with honors. He liked to say, “It took me 32 years to get my 4-year degree,” which captured his perseverance in reaching his goals. Glen was incredibly proud to help lead the Measure B campaign in 2003, which sought to increase funding and prevent closure of neighborhood elementary schools in Santa Cruz, including Bay View and Branciforte. The campaign started a string of local school funding measures over the years, which helped ensure small class sizes, art, music, sports, counseling programs, and improved facilities. Glen was a longtime member of the Santa Cruz County Democratic Central Committee, local Democratic clubs, and was active with the California Democratic Party. He also served as a director on the Santa Cruz County Workforce Development Board. Glen recently retired after a 14-year career as political coordinator of the Monterey Bay Central Labor Council, where a fought for the rights and dignity of working people throughout the Monterey Bay area. Glen was a voracious reader and history buff. He loved music and classic movies, especially Alfred Hitchcock films. Glen also loved to travel, particularly if there was a backroad to explore. Glen married Bonny Hawley in 1993, and their son, Devon Hawley-Schaller, was born in 1994. Devon is a graduate of the American University, Washington, DC, with a degree in International Service. Of all the accomplishments in his life, Glen was most proud of his son. Glen is survived by his family, including son Devon Hawley-Schaller and former wife Bonny Hawley of Santa Cruz; sister Merrie Schaller (Natalie Steinberg) of Eureka, California; brothers Tim Schaller (Trish Marshall) of Marshall, North Carolina; and Jonathan Schaller (Judy Hull) of Boston, MA; nieces Kristin Schaller (Mike Galli) of Newburyport, MA; Isadora M. Schaller of Baltimore, MD; and nephew Timothy Schaller (Sharon Schaller) of San Diego; and many friends and colleagues. Glen was preceded in death by his mother, Barbara H. Dukinfield Schaller; his father, Ferdinand D. Schaller, Jr; and brothers Mark and Dan Schaller. In lieu of flowers, Glen’s family and friends request donations to the Kids2Parks program, which enables students from Title 1 schools to enjoy a state park field trip. Please go to to make a general donation, putting Glen’s name in the note box, or send a donation in Glen’s name to Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks, 1543 Pacific Ave, #206, Santa Cruz, CA 95060. (Thanks to everyone who already donated to a picnic table in Glen’s memory at Natural Bridges State Beach. That memorial was quickly funded.)
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We are deeply sorry for your loss ~ the staff at Santa Cruz Mission Chapel
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Glen Schaller

In Loving Memory

Glen Schaller

1956 - 2023

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