Paul Brian Schoonmaker

Paul Schoonmaker
  • Paul Brian Schoonmaker, known to all as “Brian,” passed away on July 20, 2020, at his home in Friendswood, Texas.  At his bedside were his daughter Dr. Janet Moore and his wife, best friend and caregiver Rosan Costales.
  • Born in Teaneck, New Jersey, April 24, 1939, he was the son of Ernest Tappan and Gertrude Wilson Wynne Schoonmaker. Brian attended Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, NJ, on a four-year scholarship, graduating in 1961 with a Bachelor’s in Engineering.  Known for his sense of humor, Brian was the first freshman at Stevens to become humor editor of the school paper. He was pleased that when he graduated, he had offers for engineering jobs – and one to be a writer for Mad Magazine!  While a student at Stevens, he used his significant singing talent to perform in college musical theater in “Guys & Dolls,” one of his personal favorites, where he performed the solo of “Follow the Fold” (and Stray No More).  He continued performing in community theater for many years.  Another of his consistently popular performances was the great baritone solo of “Old Man River” from the musical “Showboat.”

    Immediately after graduation, Brian purchased a motorcycle to drive with friends from New Jersey to California for a new engineering job with Lockheed.  After arriving in California he telegraphed his family: “Horace Greeley didn’t mean on a motorcycle.” (Greeley said “Go west, young man”)

    Years after attaining his Bachelor’s and while working full time at McDonnell Douglas, Brian went back to school at St. Louis’s Washington University where he attained his Master’s Degree in Mathematical Engineering. While at McDonnell Douglas, one of his many accomplishments was a leadership role with the team that designed the landing system for the DC-10 aircraft. He assumed a similar leadership role on the space shuttle, where his team was instrumental in the design of essential side thrusters in the shuttle tail.
  • Brian enjoyed athletic pursuits including hang gliding (scaring his mother and family), as well as snow skiing, especially in Utah and Colorado.  He also loved community theater as well as travel including to China, India, Europe and Hawaii. He was a passionate volunteer who was recognized when he achieved 1500 crisis hotline volunteer hours with Crisis Intervention of Houston. Knowing the ongoing medical needs for blood in America, he regularly donated blood, totaling over 8 gallons, primarily through the[TS1]  American Red Cross.
  • He is survived by his wife Rosan, his two daughters Karen Louise Schoonmaker of San Francisco and Dr. Janet Moore of Phoenix (spouse Dr.Paul Moore), and five grandchildren:  Joshua Bristol, Miriam & Zachariah Dorsett plus Peter & Kate Moore. He was predeceased by his older brother Russell Tappan and younger brother Lee Craig.
  • Funeral/memorial services will be delayed until it is safe to travel and conduct services with the group of family and friends. Per his wishes, Brian’s body was donated to the University of Texas Health Sciences, which gave him the appropriate title of “silent professor,” which he would have loved because of his enduring commitment to teaching and education. 
  • In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Crisis Intervention of Houston (https://www.crisishotline.org/donate ), blood donation for the American Red Cross (https://www.redcross.org/give-blood.html)or the Nature Conservancy (https://www.nature.org/en-us/membership-and-giving/donate-to-our-mission/ )