By Peter J. Smith
ST. PETERSBURG, Florida, August 31, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Robert Schindler, Sr., the father of Terri Schiavo, passed away on Saturday after experiencing heart failure at Northside Hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida. Pro-life advocates paid tribute to the man they said was a hero and “inspiration” who never gave up fighting for the right to life of disabled persons like his daughter.
Schindler, a native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, died at 71 years of age, four years after he and his family lost a decade-long battle with his daughter's philandering husband to save her life. Schindler is survived by his wife Mary, daughter Suzanne Vitadamo, son Bobby Schindler, and granddaughter Alexandra.
According to a statement from the family:
“Robert fought valiantly to save the life of his brain- injured daughter Terri in the landmark right to life case that culminated in her imposed death by court-ordered starvation and thirst on March 31, 2005. After Terri's death, along with his wife Mary, daughter Suzanne (Schindler) Vitadamo and son Bobby Schindler, he founded the Terri Schindler Schiavo Foundation in St. Petersburg dedicated to supporting other families faced with the same need to fight for the rights of their disabled or otherwise vulnerable loved ones.”
The Schindlers, who are Catholic, have scheduled a Mass of Christian burial for Friday, September 4, at Our Lady of Good Counsel Catholic Church, 611 Knowles Ave., Southampton, PA. Visitation hours will be held from 10 a.m. to noon. Mass will then follow.
“I am heartbroken over the loss of my father and yet I know at this moment he is rejoicing with my sister, Terri,” said son Bobby Schindler in a statement. “My dad was a man of integrity, character and compassion who was blessed with a close and loving family. He taught all three of his children to respect and value life and to love our fellow man.”
“Even at the height of the battle to save my sister Terri's life, when his patience and temperance was near exhaustion, he managed to display a gentleness of spirit,” continued Schindler. “Yet it was his unfathomable strength that allowed him to shoulder up his own heartache and lead us through our darkest hour.”
Alex Schadenburg of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition joined his voice with friends of the Schindlers in mourning the death of Robert Sr.
“His daughter Terri was intentionally dehydrated to death, not because she was terminally ill and nearing death, but because she was cognitively disabled and her husband Michael wanted her to die. She died by a slow and horrific form of euthanasia,” said Schadenburg.
“The Schindler family and Bob need to be upheld for everything they had done to try to save the life of their daughter and sister Terri. The horrific reality of death by dehydration for those who are not otherwise dying was made known to the world by the courageous Schindler family who were led by their father Bob.”
Priests for Life founder Fr. Frank Pavone, who was an eye-witness to Theresa Schiavo's final hours and a friend of the Schindler family since 1999, issued a statement saying that the senior Schindler was a fighter and “an inspiration” to him.
“In spite of enduring the heartbreaking, court ordered killing of his daughter, Terry Schiavo, Bob never stopped fighting for the rights of others who were disabled or medically vulnerable,” said Pavone. “His quiet strength in the face of persecution and his compassion for those who were too weak to defend themselves will forever serve as examples of how we should show Christ's love.”
The Schindler family has requested that in lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Terri Schindler Schiavo Foundation, 5562 Central Avenue, Suite 2, Saint Petersburg, FL 33707. The telephone number for inquiries is (727) 490-7603.
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