After years of waiting, Gene Schach, a Crescent City native, has checked off a major bucket list item by setting foot on the catch deck of the St. George Reef Lighthouse.
Gene’s stepdaughter Angela Ragan said Gene is living with brain cancer and has been talking about the lighthouse as long as she’s known him.
“My mom really wanted to get him this helicopter tour since it has been on his bucket list all of his life,” Ragan emailed.
After landing Sunday, Gene was helped from the helicopter by his sons, Jeff and Kevin. The intrigue never left his face as he was shown around the outside of the structure and given details about its construction.
Inside the lighthouse kitchen, Gene sat quietly and listened to more information. His condition limits his speech, but he’s able to communicate with his family.
Jeff said that for the family, the lighthouse has always been a sort of mysterious entity that would appear through the fog when they were combing the beach as kids.
Gene stopped at the kitchen rather than climbing the remaining levels to the upper deck and light. Asked if the flight was everything he’s hoped it would be, Gene nodded and only said “yes,” with a bright, enthusiastic smile across his face.
He was also able to leave his mark there, in the form of his signature inside the lighthouse’s guest book.
Ragan said after the tour, that Gene was “over the moon,” and absolutely delighted to have been able to make the trip.
Carol Schach, Gene’s wife of 31 years said Gene has talked about the lighthouse as long as she’s known him, and they had reservations to make the trip back in 2012. However, they were informed at the time that the tours would be discontinued until the landing pad could be renovated. She said he was very disappointed at the time.
“We were so glad that we could get in this time,” she said. “I didn’t go because, well, it’s not on my list. He went with several of his friends and they are all just raving about it.”
Gene was accompanied by friends Russ Kinikin, Lynn and Rand Hill, Scott Kinikin and Jess Miller, along with sons Kevin and Jeff.
Ragan was able to join them later after flying from Seattle and driving from Medford. The group met up with Ragan and had lunch at the Chartroom Restaurant where they had a great time discussing their trip to the lighthouse.
Gene is a retired attorney living in Crescent City. His father was Ray Schact, who owned Ace Hardware before it was destroyed by the 1964 tsunami and later relocated. Ragan said he’s well known and respected in the community, calling him “the most consistently kind person I have ever met.”
Reach Tony Reed at firstname.lastname@example.org