Death of an Activist
Death of an Activist: A Memorial Tribute to James Vernon Schneider
Draft in Progress
By C. Todd White, Ph.D. courtesy of William A. Percy III.
'The Death of an Activist, part 1
No one was expecting Don Slater to die when he did.
Sure, he had a weak heart. And yes, he had suffered a brutal beating by a street thug a few years prior. But Slater was one indomitable man, a fierce spirit who would no doubt overcome this setback. The doctors at the V.A. Hospital were highly capable. Surely they could repair the damage to his fragile heart, even if it did require surgery. But when the hospital summons came, Tony Reyes, Slater’s lover of over 50 years, fully expected to arrive at Slater’s bedside to be greeted by a frail but hopeful man. That was not to be. Slater had passed while Reyes was scrambling to secure a ride.
When Slater died, on Valentine’s Day, 1997, he left behind more than one broken heart and one hell of a mess. Slater had been Chair of the Homosexual Information Center, a non-profit organization based in Los Angeles that he had helped to found in 1967. As a surviving aspect of ONE, Incorporated, the HIC, also known by its DBA “The Tangent Group,” was known for having published Tangents magazine from 1965 to 1970 and for its archives, which was build by Slater after being seeded in the mid 1950s by the esteemed gay journalist Jim Kepner. This collection, christened the Blanche M. Baker Memorial Library in 1967??, was the first and oldest gay and lesbian archives in the nation, including many rare materials that had been collected over Slater’s 50-plus years of homosexual activism.
This archives had been in Slater’s pride and joy. It had been in his exclusive care since the spring of 1965, when he and a few others removed the materials from ONE, Inc.’s office after two years of acrimony between Slater and ONE’s business manager, W. Dorr Legg. Slater won the right to retain the archives after a grueling two-year-long court battle that ended very much as it began, with Slater in custody of the archives and Legg retaining the exclusive right to use the name ONE. For a while, Slater’s collection was housed in an office in Cahuenga Pass, across from Universal Studios, and then (when?) the organization moved to a new office in Hollywood. The materials, comprising nearly 300 archival boxes of books, magazines, correspondence, and ephemeral, were moved to Slater’s home near downtown Los Angeles in 1986, when HIC could no longer afford to maintain the Hollywood office. With Slater’s death, the materials once again had to be moved as Reyes sold their stately Victorian home near downtown L.A. and prepared to move out of state.
This is when Jim Schneider stepped in. Schneider, a long-time volunteer for ONE Magazine who remained loyal to Slater after the 1965 split, had moved the boxes to a storage facility, and he took on the responsibility of paying the monthly rent. Schneider’s business, an office supply company called Office Palace, was in danger of going under at this time due to increased competition from big-box corporations such as OfficeMax, so even the modest cost of protecting the HIC archives, $70 a month, began to sap his scanty resources.
Hope arrived in the guise of a man named John O’Brien. O’Brien was the chair of ONE/IGLA, the gay and lesbian archives that Kepner founded after leaving ONE, Inc. for good late in 1959. O’Brien had contacted HIC before, early in 1995, hoping that the organization would join him in taking advantage of a new facility that was being offered to his organization by the University of Southern California. Kepner’s organization, the International Gay and Lesbian Archives, had recently acquired the library of ONE, Incorporated, which Legg had begun anew after the 1965 split. Though Legg’s archives was unimpressive compared to Slater’s, the acquisition was hailed by O’Brien and Williams as a merger. To promote this idea, they changed the name of IGLA to ONE/IGLA. The addition of the HIC collection, it was hoped, would unify all three collections into what could legitimately be hailed as the oldest and largest gay and lesbian archives in the United States.
The HIC directors, though, remained aloof, so when Slater died in 1997, the materials fell into limbo. Some of the items were immediately given to Vern L. Bullough, a professor from California State University Northridge who had built a considerable collection of his own, the Bern and Bonnie Bullough Collection on Sex and Gender, which had been designated as a special collection within CSUN’s Oviatt Library. Bullough was one of two local activists (Jim Kepner being the second) who was able to remain impartial after the split and continued to work constructively with both Slater and Legg. As a friend to Slater and long-time supporter of the HIC, Schneider and the others decided that Bullough’s collection would receive the rest of the materials as soon as possible, after things had been properly sorted.
When O’Brien and Williams learned of HIC’s recalcitrance and the pending arrangement with CSUN, they again approached Jennings and Schneider with a new offer, which, O’Brien would later claim the HIC directors verbally agreed to in the spring of 1997. While HIC documents indicate no such an agreement was ever formerly proffered or derived, the terms O’Brien proffered were indeed promising. The HIC would be granted its own space in the new facility, complete with its own exterior door and a telephone line. ONE would cover the cost of warehousing HIC’s books and pay to move the collection from the Iron Mountain storage facility in order to alleviate Schneider’s burden.
The reconstruction of the dilapidated brick fraternity house, however, was moving at a snail’s pace, and Schneider was compelled to continue to pay for the storage of the HIC archives despite ONE’s promise of assistance. In a letter to HIC’s vice chair Billy Glover, dated April 2, 1997, O’Brien assured the HIC that the new facility would be open by the fall of 1998 at the latest, so Schneider should hold tight a bit longer. O’Brien, who had helped Schneider to sort some materials after Slater’s passing, was careful to mention in his letter that the HIC materials had “not been kept in the best of ways.” He added that “some of the materials were actually lost,” but why he would presume such a thing was not made clear. He assured Glover, though, that “HIC may wish to have their own separate opening and which we would of course honor and try to be helpful in providing space and staff support.” He added: “ I have already spent a great number of hours and continue to spend time on individual books and documents trying to save them from destruction because of the conditions they were found in. This is an opportunity to bring to closure the events that occurred over thirty years ago between members of ONE. It is an historic opportunity. I can assure you that I will do my most to have this history making alliance between us grow and produce an effort we will all be proud of.”
But O’Brien took an entirely different tone when addressing his fellow board members of ONE/IGLA in a letter dated to them the very next day, on April 3, 1997. Here, O’Brien stated that the materials had been kept in such horrid conditions that it was a wonder they had survived at all. As he reported it: Over the ten days we tossed out many tons of non-archival material, which first had to be reviewed before determining what to dump. Two special trips were made by the City, to just pick up in large dump trucks, the extra papers. It took an additional two more weeks to remove the remaining garbage to all nearby dumpsters. Don Slater was a pack rat and never threw away any paper (including his daily advertising mail circulars!). Imagine a week of the L.A. Times, now multiply that by 52 weeks, and then multiply that by twenty years, and you begin to get an idea of what he had in his house basement and separate garage (all materials were unorganized and scattered about! He also kept many other papers (some of which I set aside for clipping)…It was the worst conditions that I have experienced in many years, reminding me of the old IGLA storage areas on Lexington before I joined the board.
O’Brien’s inventory of the HIC items and his assessment of their value likewise merits quoting at length:
We saved close to 300 larger size boxes of materials and ten filled four drawer file cabinets. The HIC collection turned out to be even superior to the ONE Inc. collection in many ways, of both original primary source materials and rare books and periodicals. There were 120 boxes of books which I estimate at over 8,000 books (many were smaller paperbacks which one hundred can fit in a box.) There were many boxes of periodicals (many bound) including from Europe. Many newsletters of groups from around the world were also saved. We also saved the original ONE Inc. organizational files and correspondence (hidden in the bottom of assorted boxes in no order, throughout the basement and garage). Don was always worried that someone would steal back these files and thus he hid them. No one had seen them since April 1965. These files contain original papers and many photographs on a Who’s Who of our Movement from 1952 to 1965… There was a large amount of personal correspondence from every part of this country and other countries that are of value to researchers. The photo collections retrieved are of immense historical value. There were some original art drawings and sculpture but not of great worth. I decided not to box the original ONE Inc. files and correspondence to be placed in storage with the rest of the HIC collection. It needed immediate attention and it was really not theirs.
On Saturday March 29th Bill Kaiser and I placed them in alphabetical order in file cabinets. We will over the next couple of Saturdays, transfer these folders to better ones. We will then turn them over to be catalogued and filed under ONE Inc., at our Werle building location. I believe that no one has known or seen what these files have contained, for over thirty years. The HIC board members never saw the materials (even Don who kept them in grocery boxes all these years never reviewed them!)
These files contain the best of ONE’s history. There was also material on earlier groups that people sent. There are some ironies that this collection showed, which after the material are in our new building; we need to eventually share with our readers. You can learn a lot from history, if you are observant, when saving and finding collections!
There are a few important items to be noted here. First, O’Brien’s estimation of the size of the HIC collection was dead on, and his guess that it would take over two years to process the materials properly was equally astute. However, his assertion that no one had seen these items since the 1965 split belied the fact that the materials had been available to anyone for two decades after the split. Even Dorr Legg was allowed access to the materials, and O’Brien reported that Legg was even provided a key to the HIC office, where all the materials were kept. The fact is, no one had given the split much though since 1970. O’Brien was resurrecting a conflict that had been resolved long ago—as long ago as the famous Stonewall Rebellion of which O’Brien is said to have taken part.
O’Brien attributed the survival the HIC materials to his own herculean efforts: “I believe the HIC collection (and some of the best of ONE Inc.) would all have been lost, except for a combination of sophisticated political maneuvers, dedicated physical effort…, knowledge of the materials, the correct handling and care of the materials, and showing personal caring to Reyes and developing personal relations with others in HIC.” This is a very honest and generous assessment of HIC’s situation. When I asked Bullough and Schneider to describe the conditions of the archives, though, they stated that the materials had been well placed. Old newspapers were indeed stowed in sacks under the house. But the archives itself was safely stored inside, protected.
Another item of note—perhaps the most prescient sentence of all—was how O’Brien here confessed to his fellow board members that he and another librarian had removed‚ or had intended to remove, materials from the HIC archives without the knowledge or consent of Schneider or Reyes, claiming that the items were “not really theirs.” This indicates that ONE had been dealing with HIC in bad faith all along, stating on one hand that the HIC was the rightful owner of the archives while suggesting to ONE’s board that the items had been stolen by Slater in the first place and that it was only just for ONE to steal them back. This precedent was to continue. While Schneider had placed 253 boxes into iron Mountain, O’Brien took 23 remaining boxes to ONE as overflow with the understanding that they would be returned to HIC once things had settled. Schneider, though, was never to see those boxes again despite his repeated requests that they be located. And still, after all this time, no written agreement from O’Brien or ONE’s board ever came into being.
Enter, Stage Left…
This is about the time that I entered on the scene. I began working for ONE in the spring of 1998, having been recruited by Williams to study under him as a graduate student in anthropology at the University of Southern California and to assist with the editing of ONE’s online journal, the International Gay and Lesbian Review. Soon after moving to Los Angeles in July of 1998, I met Jim Schneider, and we instantly hit it off. We both haled from Nebraska and shared many philosophies and a rigorous Midwestern work ethic. From Schneider, who was a director of ONE at the time of the acrimonious split, I began to learn firsthand of the life and work of Don Slater and the history of ONE, Inc. And I began to notice that the history I had learned from Schneider and the story I heard from Williams and O’Brien were not adding up.
Curious, I began to assist Schneider with going through the filing cabinets and the 253 boxes in his care, which had finally been moved to ONE but remained sealed and stamped “Property of Jim Schneider and the Homosexual Information Center.” By this time, the personal collection of Dale Jennings (one of the first five original founders of Harry Hay’s famous Mattachine Foundation) had been added to the archives due to his failing health.
O’Brien had been removed from the board due to his abrasive personality, inability to coordinate with USC, and sluggish progress on the building which had yet to be opened to the public.
Like O’Brien, I was floored by the materials that I was finding as I began to help Schneider process Slater’s archives. Unlike O’Brien, though, I was continually amazed at the condition that the materials were in. There was no mold, no wet or rotting papers, no insects. In fact, many of the items were in outstanding condition, considering that at one time these items could be checked out by members of ONE. I was fortunate to find an old notebook that listed the first 2,500 items in (roughly) their order of acquisition—and then delighted to discover that these accession numbers had been penciled into the front pages of the texts themselves. With the assistance of my sister, I set out to create a database of the information in the notebook and then began to “check in” each item as I found it. My ambition was to create a virtual online reconstruction of the archives as it was in 1965, at the time of the split.
One day, I was reading a text that I had purchased from ONE’s sale rack of duplicate materials (a rare copy of the Wolfenden Report that I had purchased for the bargain-basement price of $3.00) and I was surprised to find an accession number inside. How could this be? I knew that the librarians at ONE had decided sell their duplicate copies (ONE secretary Jim Morrow had an agreement where he kept 40% of the proceeds from these sales. But how had a book from the HIC archives ended up here?
The second cautionary signal for me came when I would unpack materials on one day only to find them removed from the HIC’s room the next. Schneider had no idea what had happened, and when I asked the ONE librarians about it they seemed unconcerned. Over the next few days, as materials continued to disappear, my dismay soon turning to consternation. I again brought this to the attention of Schneider, who at first thought I was mistaken but then began to realize that indeed, things that we processed one day would go missing the next.
Then, things began to escalate. In the fall of 2001, short months after the much-delayed grand opening, the directors of ONE censured Schneider for not seeking board approval before adding an administrative fee to an invoice he had provided. After O’Brien’s departure, Schneider had stepped in to finish the building. He recruited Gus Sanchez to complete the project, a close friend whom he trusted and had been working alongside for years. Sanchez was a skilled and dedicated craftsman, and it was largely through his diligent efforts and skills at carpentry and painting that the building was finished at all. Schneider, frustrated that Morrow was making what he thought to be an outrageous percentage of the sales take, had requested a fee for time he had spent managing ONE’s affairs. He had hit ONE with an invoice that had a modest administrative fee clearly listed, a request for reimbursement for his time and costs. The directors, though, saw this as an opportunity to challenge Schneider, and he was censured.
This was all very difficult for me to watch and marks the beginning of an ordeal from which I’ve never truly recovered. Board meetings were always unhappy affairs. They happened in the evenings, when everyone was tired from a long day at work and nerves were set on edge. Schneider was difficult to address because he was deaf in one ear—and he had a habit it dozing off periodically. Only Williams and I ever seemed to see Schneider at his best, at sunrise, with a morning bounce in his step, a grin on his face, and a sack of McBreakfast for the crew. Schneider, to me, was amazing. I will never forget watching as he forged a fulcrum by which to heft the impossible. He was a planner, a talented leader all things considered who always had safety foremost in mind. I recognized the Nebraska skies in his eyes, and it was easy for me to imagine his giant hands, lithe and powerful to his dying days, wrestling cattle or tossing bales of hay under the great canopy that is the heartland sky. Through Schneider, I felt connected to Slater and Legg, and soon he introduced me to the other survivors: Joseph Hansen in Laguna Beach, Tony Reyes in the remote Colorado Rockies, and Billy Glover, now living in his childhood home of Shreveport, Louisiana.[Need to add ONE’s grand opening.]
Soon after, Walter Williams was removed from the board. Then, during the annual corporate meeting in January, my own board membership was revoked. Effectively, within months of ONE’s opening, three people who had worked diligently to get the building opened—Williams, Schneider, and myself—were cast out of the organization by a new faction, comprised of USC library’s Lynn Sipe the acting Chair of ONE; the key librarian, Pat Allen; and a new board recruit, historian Stuart Timmons.
With Schneider censured and I have been sidelined, HIC lost its voice in ONE’s management. With more items being removed from the HIC office on a regular basis, it became very clear that the materials were in danger. So in the fall of 2001, Schneider asked that I help him to reestablish communication with Vern Bullough, who had become my good friend and mentor. Schneider, Glover, and the third board member, novelist Joseph Hansen, began to make plans to remove their collection and take it to Northridge to join the materials that had been placed there after Slater’s passing in 1997.
It was a dangerous plan, but the HIC board felt cornered and powerless. It truly seemed they had no choice. There needed to be a second heist.
The Heist, Redux
This was accomplished—barely—on December 24, 2001. Schneider had located and rented a staked flat-bed truck and about six hired hands. I met them at the archives early that Sunday morning, and we began loading the 14 large filing cabinets and over 250 archival boxes onto the truck. The plan was to move them to my home in Glendale temporarily as we began the process of taking an inventory of the content and transitioning the materials to CSUN. My home was chosen over Schneider’s due to my proximity to CSUN and Oviatt Library.
Things were moving along smoothly until about 11:00 that Christmas eve morning, when Jim Morrow showed up with four campus policemen beside him. Schneider had left to secure lunch, so Morrow and I were left to speak to the police. Morrow stated that the materials being removed belonged to ONE and that I was stealing them. He tried his best to have me arrested. My narrative, of course, was as I have described it here. The police did not know whether to believe my story or his, but as the room in which the boxes were stored was clearly marked as an office of the HIC—and all of the boxes retained their label from Iron Mountain as property of HIC and of Jim Schneider—the police questioned Morrow’s story. They decided to wait until Schneider to return to see which of us he would corroborate. Of course, my version carried the day, and we were allowed to proceed. Within two hours, the materials were placed in my large garage, which a former tenant hand transformed into a work space. And the arduous job of unpacking began.
Our relief at having secured the safety of the HIC archives, however, was very short lived.
In May of 2002, just after classes let out for summer break, Schneider and I received a notice from Tony Gardner, the Head of Special Collections at CSUN, that he could not accept any more materials from HIC due to a letter they had received from ONE’s attorney, Alan M. Katz, claiming that the materials in question had been stolen and were the rightful property of ONE Institute. A few days later, on May 31, we received formal notification by Katz that demanded the return of all items or else face daunting legal consequences. Katz believed that we had removed over 100 boxes and over 20 four-drawer filing cabinets, but clearly he had no idea what those items contained. He wrote:
These materials belong to and are the property of ONE Institute. ONE Institute's right of ownership of these materials is based on several grounds, including, without limitation, the 1967 Agreement of Settlement in the lawsuit entitled One Incorporated vs. Slater, Los Angeles Superior court Case No. 864824, ONE Institute's rescue and preservation of documents after Don Slater's death in 1997, and agreements between ONE Institute and HIC as commemorated in the minutes of ONE Institute as well as other documentation and multiple witness statements.
Katz further informed us that he had contacted CSUN’s attorneys and had been assured that Oviatt Library would not receive any more of the materials so long as ownership was in question. Our efforts, it seemed, had been stymied.
Needless to say, all of this came as quite a blow. But it completely validated all our concerns that many of ONE’s directors had indeed been acting in bad faith all along. I was especially devastated. I was working toward completion of my dissertation, and I had no idea what this would do to my credibility at USC. Still, I knew as well as the HIC board that the materials unquestioningly belonged to the HIC. My research was my weapon: I was armed with solid facts. So we did the only thing we could: we hired an attorney, and we fight back.
Schneider was fortunate to have heard of an attorney who could help us. Spencer Lugash was his name, and he helped us to repel ONE’s attack. We had two other attorneys looking over our shoulder, Robert Cook and Michael Flattery, and all three were in agreement that ONE had no leg to stand on. While this was never a serious consideration, we were advised to launch a counter suit for defamation of character and interference with business relations, but none of us desired to press things that far. All we wanted was for ONE to leave us alone.
On July 24, 2002, Lugash sent our reply to ONE. We asserted, of course, that we were and continued to be the sole owners of the materials. We related our side of the story and refuted each of their spurious claims. We demanded an immediate retraction under threat of a viable counter suit. As ONE had threatened Schneider and I individually, so we reminded the directors of ONE that they, too, could be personally liable for the damages they had caused.
Ironically, it was Katz’s threatening letter also provided our salvation. It as Katz who provide the documents cited above where O’Brien admitted to having intended to remove materials from Slater’s residence without HIC’s knowledge. Katz, for some reason, thought that these letters would support ONE’s argument. We, of course, thought otherwise, and Lugash emphasized our take on O’Brien’s words in his reply. At last, in a letter from Katz dated Aug. 12, 2002, ONE withdrew its claim of ownership of the materials. This letter was every bet as defensive as the first one had been aggressive, insisting that ONE and O’Brien had been acting in good faith all along.
Greatly relieved, we moved forward with our intentions to move the materials to Oviatt Library. However, the incident had soured our relations with some, and library administration remained leery of dealing with us. In defending ONE’s position, Katz had made some assertions that might seem damaging from the perspective of CSUN’s attorneys. So, on June 23, 2003, we sent one more letter to Katz in which HIC’s position was made totally clear. We asserted that O’Brien had indeed made promises he had no intention to keep and that his reports to ONE were untrue and fraudulent. Defending the covert removal of the materials from ONE’s facility by Schneider and I, we clarified our position: “Mr. Schneider and Mr. White were forced to remove their items that Sunday in order to protect the assets of the organization and prevent any further stealing of their materials. Due to the fact that their items were vanishing on a regular basis, they feared that if they informed ONE of their intent to remove the materials, ONE Inst.’s librarians would attempt to steal as much of it as possible before they could get it out.”
Further, we asserted that ONE Inst. had no say in the enforcement of the 1967 agreement of settlement between Slater and Legg for the simple reason that the organization that was now calling itself ONE Institute was not ONE, Inc. Nor had they ever been. ONE, Inc. had ceased to exist shortly after the death of Dorr Legg in 1994. At this time, ONE officially merged with ISHR, the Institute for Human Resources, a non-profit organization started in 1964 by transgendered philanthropist Reed Erickson. With ISHR being the surviving corporation, ONE, Incorporated, was dissolved. ISHR gave ONE’s remaining materials to Kepner’s International Gay and Lesbian Archives, and IGLA, under advisement from Walter Williams, became ONE/IGLA. ISHR also provided consent for IGLA to use the name ONE Institute, which had formerly been the educational aspect of ONE, Incorporated.
Based on these facts, we demanded that Katz offer another more complete retraction of any remaining spurious claims. And none of us were too surprised that a response from Katz never came. At least we were able to put our perspective on record.
The HIC Collection at CSUN
After three years of limbo, HIC received notice from the librarians at CSUN that the matter had been resolved to their attorneys’ satisfaction and we could at last resume moving our materials to Oviatt Library. The agreement stipulated that the HIC collection would be recognized as a subset of the Vern and Bonnie Bullough Collection on Sex and Gender. None of the materials would be available for circulation, but they would be listed in the library’s catalogue and available for public viewing in the Special Collections Reading Room. The collection was designated a “living collection” whereby HIC could assist in the continued growth of the archives. Any duplicate materials received would be returned to HIC. Upon dissolution of the HIC, all of its materials, property, and rights were be ceded to CSUN. In return, if CSUN ever decided to cancel the agreement, the materials would be returned to HIC and the agreement would become void. An introductory history of the HIC would appear on the library’s website, and scholars citing the materials should be reminded to secure any necessary permissions from copyright owners and all acknowledgements should read “Courtesy of the HIC Collection • CSUN University Library.”
Now, seven years after the agreement was finalized, most of the materials have at last been situated at CSUN. The HIC has effectively doubled the size of the Bullough Collection of Sex and Gender, which has been the most used special collection in the library. Together with a new generation of library administrators, the HIC continues to work to promote the archives and post many of the rare and important materials on the Web so that scholars from around the world can learn about the history of the movement before Stonewall. In part due to the significance of the collection, CSUN is currently developing a gay and lesbian studies program. The materials, it is hoped, are at last secure in a safe environment. HIC has a reason to continue to exist. And scholars everywhere, and the movement in general, can benefit from the availability of these materials.
The Death of an Activist, part 2
All of this, though, came a great personal expense and sacrifice for Jim Schneider. The years of having to pay HIC’s rent had taken a severe toll. He did not let on how much he had suffered until three years ago, when Sanchez, who had resided with Schneider for years with his wife, Veronica, and their sons, learned that Schneider was ten months behind on his mortgage, and bill collectors were circling like crows overhead. Sanchez, with no formal education and armed with only determination and prayer, began to fight on Schneider’s behalf. Without the assistance of a lawyer, he managed to have Schneider’s debt waylaid through bankruptcy. Then, he began to fight the bank, which was eager to foreclose on the house and had been trying to evict them all. And, against all odds, he succeeded. Due to the good efforts of Gus and Veronica Sanchez, Schneider was able to remain in his home until the last month of his life. Schneider died, alone, on Sunday, November 11. I like to think that as Schneider had helped Jennings make his final transition, the spirit of Jennings was there at the end, telling him that it was okay to let go, sharing with him in his final breath. By the laws of reciprocity, surely this was so.
But unlike Jennings, there will be no celebration for the passing of this amazing man. Per his wishes, the Sanchez family, Schneider’s family by choosing, will disperse his ashes to the sea as they mourn the man who had provided them true friendship and shelter for so long.
Schneider was not a church-going man, having left religion behind when he left the heartland for the golden state. Nevertheless, he was a powerful force of nature, and he grinned broadly when I called him the guardian angel of the archives. Though he came from the earth, by his desire his ashes have met the sea. As he has often said to me in a solum voice—first of Jennings, then of Hansen and Bullough—he now belongs to the ages.
This essay was commissioned by William A. Percy III in January of 2013. It was written by C. Todd White in memory of James Vernon Schneider, who died at the age of 80 on Nov. 11, 2012.