April 3, 2022
In loving memory ~
Stephen Schacht, the patriarch of our family, a bon vivant who travelled through life as if the world were his oyster, left us all too abruptly on April 3, just three days before his 77th birthday. A man who seemed to embody countless past lives, he always had a story to share, some of them fantastic – like his backstage anecdotes from Woodstock, his years living in NYC where he co-invented the waterbed, singing in folk clubs on the east coast, chatting up the likes of Johnny Cash, the light shows he produced for the Jefferson Airplane, and that time he was pulled off the street in New York to model for a wedding shoot for Vogue magazine. Serendipity seemed to follow him around. He was truly gifted at finding a connection to so many people, anywhere he happened to land.
Born and raised in Solon Springs, Wisconsin, Stephen managed to segue his airforce engineering degree into cultural expressions fitting to the 60’s, a decade he embraced fully. Travelling to Mexico in 1976, he met Ramona, his wife of nearly 45 years. That was another story he never tired of sharing, always concluding, “it was fate!”
He moved to Canada in 1977, married Ramona and became a Canadian citizen, which he embraced with a total commitment and much enthusiasm. Pursuing his dream of “getting back to the land”, Stephen and Ramona found themselves on Denman Island where they built a life and community for 7 years. Moving with daughter Jessica to Victoria in 1984, Stephen and Ramona opened a fine crafts gallery, Out of Hand, and started the Out of Hand Craft Fair. At the same time, Stephen set up shop as a goldsmith. Largely self-taught, Stephen created beautiful one-of-a-kind pieces of jewellery for retail, gallery shows and custom wedding work. Shortly after, son Jeremy arrived, completing their small family, and for the next 23 years they lived, worked, played and raised their family in Victoria.
With daughter Jessica off to Calgary to start her career in accounting, and son Jeremy at UBC pursuing an engineering degree, Stephen and Ramona decided to move to the Cowichan Valley to start SOL Farm, where they sold their produce and flowers at the Duncan Famers Market for twelve years.
Stephen’s final project, the family distillery he co-founded in 2014 with son Jeremy, daughter-in-law, Jessica and wife Ramona, was truly his pride and joy. He was a tireless promoter of the brand, he loved giving tours and talking about the unique technology and the equipment he helped develop. This final business ticked all the boxes – engineering know how, family togetherness and teamwork, entrepreneurship – he was living the dream, helping to produce award winning spirits while living the farm lifestyle. Each day ended with a delicious Negroni or two, his favourite cocktail, made with his beloved gin.
A large presence, his absence is keenly felt. Ramona, daughter Jessica, son-in-law Matthew, son Jeremy, daughter-in-law Jessica, grandson Lenny, sister Jeanne (Terry) and many more family and friends miss him every day. The family wants to thank all the family, friends, neighbours, vendors, and customers who have reached out to express their sorrow and condolences. It’s been truly heartwarming.
A celebration of life will be held in July. Date TBA.
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