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Her Life

Shelly Schermer - June 29, 1944 to December 2, 2020

December 2, 2020
Rochelle Berg Schermer was hit by a thunderbolt on June 28, 2019, when her aorta suddenly ripped apart. This was one day before her 75th birthday. The stars lined up to keep her alive, but she suffered small strokes and spinal cord damage which left her a paraplegic. After nine hours of open heart surgery, two months of excellent care at the UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento and a month in skilled nursing, it was back to the East Sacramento home that she occupied and loved for 42 years. No longer able to walk, let alone climb stairs, Shelly moved into the converted dining room. This kept her in the mainstream of the home. The large windows provided comforting sunlight and garden views as the seasons changed.

At age 76, she was on a new uncharted journey that gave Michael, her husband of 54 years, a seldom received opportunity to pay her back for decades of love, unconditional support and sage advice. Shelly made a remarkable adjustment to her abrupt loss of independence, but the beating her body had endured was eroding her new normal. After months  of almost imperceptible decline, she all but stopped eating and drinking. This prompted her last hospital admission. In four days, it was determined that the only options to prolong her life as an aged paraplegic were ones she firmly rejected. At home on hospice care, her son Dave and all four of her beloved teenaged grandchildren congregated; Julia & Natalie from Ventura, Max from Boston and Holden from Honolulu. Each had priceless private time with Shelly. Her last days were colored by a unique brew of love, comfort, sadness and teenage cavorting.

Shelly’s journey to life everlasting begins in Chicago in 1944 as the daughter of Henry and Doris and the little sister of Larry. When she was ten, the family of four moved to Evanston, Illinois. Here Shelly was a member of the Y Club and the Evanston Township High School class of 1962. Her next stop was the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor where she joined the Alpha Epsilon Phi sorority and graduated in 1966. One spring day in 1965, on the steps of the Sammy fraternity house, she met Michael. They were married in Ann Arbor in December of that same year. It was the beginning of the treasured, categorical support she provided until that shocking day in June 2019. Along the way, Shelly put Michael through medical school by working as a high school teacher in Pinkney, Michigan. She gave birth to two remarkable boys, David and Ethan,  who spent two of their childhood years with the family on the Papago Indian Reservation in Arizona. When they moved to Davis in 1972, Shelly decided to attend law school, first at McGeorge, then at UC Davis King Hall, where she was Order of the Coif, graduating number two in the class of 1977. A year later, the family made its last move to the house on the corner in East Sacramento known affectionately as “Cleaver Hill.”

Her first job as an attorney was with Blease Vanderlaan and Rothschild, she subsequently worked with Boling Pothoven, Kronick Moskovitz and finally Zarick Harlen. Shelly was able to use her legal background to excel at financial planning. In addition, she served on the boards of Sacramento’s B’nai Israel congregation, The Jewish Community Relations Council and for several years she was the president of the Fortune Cookies investment club. Her love of reading made it easy for her to be active in two book clubs, the Medical Alliance book club and Rabbi Alfi’s book club. For a time, she was a docent at the Crocker Art Museum. Late in life, Shelly became an enthusiastic advocate of DemsVote. She also returned to teaching by volunteering for both Reading Partners and the START program at Jedediah Smith Elementary School.

Shelly always said, “Hope for the best and prepare for the worst,” but she was not prepared for the deepest cut of all when her beloved son Ethan suddenly and unexpectedly died in 2009. The serenity prayer helped her to heal and gave her the strength to provide essential support for others at that tragic time. Her last breath was taken on Wednesday December 2, 2020  at home, cradled in the arms of Michael and David. Now she rests with her son Ethan, her father who was her role model and her dear mother.

Shelly put her funeral arrangements entirely in Michael’s hands. A small service was held for the immediate family. Michael asks only that those who would have attended a memorial devote an equivalent amount of time to some form of community service as a way to honor Shelly by making the world just a little bit better.

 For details of Shelly's Aorta Journey click here to see Michael's blog.

Ethan Schermer 1970 - 2009

March 18, 2021
For Shelly the loss of Ethan far exceeded the loss of her legs and her independence.  Now they rest together, in peace, having reached their final destinations.  

                           Birth is a beginning
                          And death a destination
                          And life is a journey
                          A sacred pilgrimage to life everlasting

   This is a link to Ethan's memorial website created in 2009.

Michael's blog starting June 28, 2019 the day her life crashed

October 30, 2020
Link to Michael's detailed blog
     The blog is a detailed  narrative of about 40 pages.  A sample is below.  For the entire blog please use the link above.


“She’s super super super super sick.” That is what Ally the young PA told me at 5:30 PM today. Shelly was rushed to the OR at UCD when they found a ruptured aorta at about 3:00 PM. A few minutes after that she was on the heart lung machine. Ally, who had been assisting Dr. Victor Rodriguez in surgery, told me the surgery would last till 10 or 11:00 PM, that’s seven or eight hours. Dr. Rodriguez has plenty of residents to help him, so Ally scrubbed out to talk to me. She said the damaged aorta had been removed. Now a patch was being sewn in place. Ally feels Rodriguez is the very best person for aorta surgery.

Here is how it went down. I got a call from the police at 2:00 PM. Shelly had been in an auto accident and was taken to the ER at UCD. The accident happened at about 1:00 PM. She lost control of the car. Starting from a large parking area it traveled at idle speed over the curb and across Folsom Blvd from south to north. When it hit a tree at Talini’s Nursery, on the other side of Folsom Blvd, it stopped. Shelly was slumped behind the wheel. She said her chest hurt. Next stop was the UCD ER.

I arrived at the ER at 3:07 PM. Officer Pangulinan whom I had met at Talinis, met me at the ER. He said she was in “Recess 2” but had been moved to get a CT scan. Naturally I had to wait a bit until Melissa a social worker came out to tell me she was intubated and taken to the OR. The intubation was ominous. A bit of good news was that the CT of the head was normal. About an hour later Melissa came back to walk me to the OR waiting area where I waited another hour until Ally took me to a private room to give me a compassionate update.

According to Ally, Shelly could talk when she hit the ER. Trauma patients are given a GCS score, kind of like an Apgar score for newborns, perfect is 15, she was 14, but then the bottom dropped out. Her blood pressure plummeted, she had trouble breathing and the score dropped to 3. Fortunately they were able to give her blood, fluids and meds to keep her blood pressure up, but she need the respirator. At this point there was still no diagnosis. She was scanned from head to hips. Scanning revealed the damaged bleeding aorta. According to Ally, she was rushed to the OR in a matter of 10 minutes. 

To Read More click link above.