Longtime Sebastopol resident Pat Schoch has been named the newest honoree in the city of Sebastopol’s Locals Who Make a Difference program. The city made a proclamation in Schoch’s honor at the last city council meeting, where the 84-year-old Schoch accepted her award and posed for photos with the council and her family.
Schoch, an Indiana native who moved to Sebastopol in 1962, has been an indefatigable volunteer over the years. She began volunteering with the Sebastopol Methodist Church more than 50 years ago and for the last 20 years has run the church’s scrip fundraising program.
Schoch, who trained as a nurse, has worked with Home Hospice of Sonoma County, visiting patients, and she volunteered in the local schools when her children were young. (All four kids went to Analy High School, and they all live within two hours of Sebastopol, for which Schoch said she feels blessed.)
Schoch currently works as a gallery assistant and music scheduler at the Sebastopol Center for the Arts and as a cashier at the Hospice Thrift Store in Santa Rosa. A lifelong hiker, she also enjoys volunteering for and participating in Coast Walk events, as well as the Cemetery Walk and other events for the West County Historical Society.
“I like volunteer jobs where I can meet people,” she said. “I’m not a techie, and I don’t like being behind a desk.”
She and her husband Paul, who have been married for 59 years, often volunteer together.
“We work well together,” she said.
Schoch, who worked as a U.S. Air Force nurse, met her husband at a Methodist Church singles dance in Sacramento in 1959. They moved to Sebastopol when Paul got a job here as an engineer. He ultimately founded the engineering firm Hogan, Schoch and Associates, which was located for many years in what is now the HopMonk building.
“We came for his job, but we liked the town so much, we just never left,” she said.
As a couple, they like staying active. They’ve biked and hiked throughout the United States, Europe and parts of Asia. Schoch also plays tennis three times a week and is still active on her interchurch softball team.
“We’re competitive,” she said of her teammates, “but we’re mostly in it for the relationships, fun and acceptance. We have good players and not so good players.”
Asked which type she was, she said, “I’m a good pitcher, a terrible batter and I’m getting too old to run very well, but I have a good time.”
“A lot of people don’t like being pitcher — they’re afraid of getting hit — so I’m always assured of playing my favorite position,” she said.
Her main hobby, other than volunteering and sports, is her apple orchard, which she tends by hand. She has 100 fruit trees, 75 of them Gravensteins.
“I enjoy pruning and taking care of them,” she said. “I have a dozen really old ones, but as long as you prop them up and don’t let them fall over, they’ll keep producing. Those are my babies.”
She does the pruning herself.
“It takes me all winter,” she said. “As soon as the leaves are off, I get to work. The small trees don’t take very long, but the big old ones can take a whole day. I don’t do any other kind of art. My trees are my art.”
She also loves setting up a little store in her driveway when the Gravensteins come in. She puts up a sign on Highway 116, pointing apple-seekers her way.
“People come from all over, and they keep coming back year after year,” she said. “I get calls starting in May asking when the Gravs are coming in.”
Schoch is a doer, but she credits many things in her life to happenstance — noting how becoming an Air Force nurse brought her to Sacramento, where she met her husband, who led her to Sebastopol, where she’s lived all these years. They even chose their church by happenstance: “It was the closest one to our house, but the congregation was so warm and welcoming, we just never left.”
She said her volunteering has evolved organically as well.
“One thing just led to another,” she said.
Of her Locals Who Make a Difference award, Schoch said, “I feel so humbled by it. I’m just not used to all this recognition.”
That recognition is just the beginning. Starting in May, banners bearing Schoch’s name and face will decorate downtown, which she found both funny and thrilling.
“I can’t wait to hear the comments!” she said, with a laugh.