Beloved swimmer Bob Scheid proves age is just a number
THE SANTA CLARA
April 28, 2016
Aman who was born before the Great Depression and served in World War II is in the midst of his fifth year participating in an on-campus triathlon.
Willow Glen resident Bob Scheid biked up to campus to swim every week for 25 years and is on a team for Santa Clara’s Iron Bronco competition. He just celebrated his ninetieth birthday in March.
“His demeanor is that of a youthful person, the students love him,” said Santa Clara alumnus and San Jose resident Dino Giambrone, one of Scheid’s longtime companions. “He’s a lot of fun. He’s so quick-witted and funny and he’s very energizing to be around.”
During the Malley Fitness Center’s annual Iron Bronco competition, up to three people can be on a team to complete 2.4 miles of swimming, 26.2 miles of running and a whopping 112 miles of biking over the course of a few weeks. The competition began this year on April 17, and participants have until May 1 to finish the competition.
Giambrone completed the Iron Bronco by himself for several years, but then formed a team with Janice DeMonsi, director of recreation, after she came to Santa Clara in 2002. After seeing Scheid swim so regularly on campus, they recruited him to join their team five years ago.
“I do the swimming portion of the Iron Bronco because my two partners don’t have swimsuits,” Scheid quipped.
The three of them take a triumphant photo together every year wearing their Iron Bronco shirts after completing the competition.
“(For) my entire life, he has always been active and on the go,” said senior Abbey Scheid, his niece. “I think that activities like swimming and fishing are part of the reason why at 90, he acts like he is 50.”
Scheid has deep ties to Santa Clara—an avid golfer for much of his life, Scheid coached the Santa Clara men’s golf team for five years in the 90s. His brother, Santa Clara alumnus Jerry Scheid, was on the school’s now-defunct football team in its glory days, and played in the Orange Bowl in the 1950s. Scheid even attended Santa Clara from 1946 to 1947, but transferred to San Jose State to study advertising.
Scheid now bikes up to Santa Clara three times a week from Willow Glen. Once he reaches Santa Clara, he attends noon mass, swims, has lunch and then bikes back home.
“I try to ride my bike as much as I can,” Scheid said. “As long as the tires have air in them.”
He celebrates his birthdays on campus every year, and for his ninetieth birthday this year, the fitness center staff signed a jumbo-sized birthday card for him.
“He is always positive and has a smile on his face,” said Abbey. “He is incredibly thoughtful and generous and will be the first person to greet you and brighten your day.”
Over the years, Scheid has formed close bonds with many of the students who work in the fitness center, and many of them have even brought Scheid with them to their classes.
“He often asks me about older student workers that used to work for us, so I pull up their facebook pages and share details about where they are now,” DeMonsi said. “He’s got a great memory for people that used to be here, which just shows that he has a large heart. I’m not stretching it when I say that the Malley staff are part of his family.”
Junior Gabby Carne met Scheid her freshman year when she started working in the fitness center, and takes him to her classes once every year. Carne said it always impresses her that Scheid is so open to meeting new people all the time.
“He really likes learning and he always comments about how everything we are learning is above his head but he loves seeing what we are doing,” Carne said.
Scheid said he spends so much time at Santa Clara because he loves the school’s atmosphere and peacefulness, describing it as “like a wonderland” for a good cause. He said that being around young people keeps him young and energized.
“One of the things about coming here as a old man is that it’s nice for old people to be able to associate with youth,” Scheid said. “There’s always something happening, even if it’s getting run over by a skateboard.”
He was born in Colorado Springs in 1926, and was in the U.S. Navy during World War II. He has lived in Willow Glen for over 50 years and spent 35 years at the San Jose Mercury News Advertising Department.
Since retiring, Scheid regularly indulges in one of his favorite hobbies in addition to swimming at Santa Clara—backpacking and fishing in the the Sierra Nevada mountains.
“I go fishing up there every summer, within a couple weeks I’ll be up there,” Scheid said. “In the old days I would go backpacking and fishing with other people, but now I go by myself.”
Scheid isn’t afraid of roughing it—whenever he goes camping he sleeps in the back of his truck.
“He’ll tell me that a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do,” Giambrone said.
Contact Sophie Mattson at email@example.com or call (408) 554-4849.