AISD trustee honored after losing battle with cancer

AUSTIN (KXAN) -- The Austin Independent School District paid tribute to Trustee Robert Schneider at their Monday night meeting.

His wife, Kathleen, told KXAN he died on July 18 at the age of 62 after a battle with advanced prostate cancer.

He was diagnosed in February of 2014.

"He just thought he would beat it, "said Kathleen. "He was on the phone doing school board stuff when he was home three weeks before he died."

His hope in beating it was also why he kept his condition private. Many board members didn't know how serious it was.

"I think he felt that if he didn't say it a whole lot to a lot of people, kept it private, he could keep this battle going," said Kathleen. "And he did until the end. He never really gave in."

She along with three of their four children sat on the front row during the board meeting as trustees shared thoughts and memories.

"I can only pray that his spirit will live on in the army of advocates for public education who follow in his footsteps," said Trustee Jayme Mathias.

"His leadership, his work. He loved this district, he loved AISD, he loved what AISD did for his kids," said Superintendent Dr. Paul Cruz.

Schneider was a dedicated school board trustee for 13 years representing Southwest Austin, and the only board member who ran for re-election last year.

"It really came down to I've got some experience and things that are going to be really challenging to the district particularly legislatively and financially," Schneider told KXAN education reporter Erin Cargile during an interview at his home.

Schneider was known for being outspoken in the board room and often voted against the majority on issues he believed in.

In the last couple of months, Schneider made his stance clear on a new South Austin high school. He wanted to see the board expedite the process of coming up with a plan due to alleviate overcrowding at Bowie High School. He was in favor of a second Liberals Arts and Science Academy in the southern part of the city.

"He's been fighting that battle for years and years and I know that's the one probably biggest regret he has -- not being around to sort of finish that," said Kathleen.

A memorial mass and reception will be held Saturday, Aug. 29, 2015 at 2 p.m. at the University Catholic Center.

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