Fond memories, Facebook bring angel to Wareham
This month, Marc Schluter gave $10 to a young couple who could only scrape together $1 for gas.
Marc Schluter paid a family's grocery bill.
Marc Schluter left $1,000 in an envelope on the windshield of a car parked at CVS on Main Street, helping a woman who was struggling, but too proud to ask for help.
Marc Schluter has been dead for nearly 20 years.
On December 23, 1992, 16-year-old Marc was driving his beloved Jeep on Red Brook Road in Wareham, when the vehicle skidded on black ice. The Jeep rolled over. He wasn't wearing a seatbelt.
At 11:45 p.m., just minutes before Christmas Eve, Marc died, and his parents, Pamela and Craig Schluter, got the phone call that no parent should ever have to receive: Their son was dead, and they had to go to the hospital to identify the body.
"Marc was a happy-go-lucky kid, neither a saint nor a devil, but a mixture of both," explained 41-year-old Scott Schluter, Marc's older brother, "which is why, once you met and were befriended by him, you had a friend for life."
For the 20th anniversary of Marc's death, Scott Schluter is using the power of Facebook to invite all who knew his brother — and even those who didn't — to do something for someone else this holiday season.
"Marc had a big heart and would have given you the shirt off his back if you asked him, so pass it on," Scott wrote on a Facebook page titled, "20 Years Later, a Celebration of Life."
Marc died at a time when only a relatively few techies knew what the Internet was, and when Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg was 8 years old. But it is the Internet and Facebook that are helping to keep Marc's memory alive.
"A few familiar names joined the [Facebook] event. Then, a few unfamiliar names," said Scott. "And then, something magical happened. The event grew into something big, with Marc performing random acts of kindness all over town, and even outside of this state."
On Saturday, Dec. 1, the woman whose car was parked at CVS received an envelope containing $1,000, and a note that read: "This is a gift for you! Please accept this gift in memory of Marc Schluter. All I ask is that you also surprise someone with a gift, no matter how big or small. Happy holidays!"
"Whoever you are," the woman wrote in a letter to Wareham Week, "how can I thank you for your incredible gift? … You have no idea how much your gift has helped my family!"
The woman asked to remain anonymous, but wanted to express her immense gratitude.
"It is so difficult to be in a place where you need help, and I am never one to ask for it, so this is a miracle for me," the woman wrote. "I hope the person responsible will [see this message and] realize just how thankful I am!"
But that's not all Marc has done.
Marc sent $100 in Subway gift cards to help in the Hurricane Sandy relief effort. Marc provided photography sessions to two single mothers who could not afford family photos.
Marc grew up in Wareham, attended Wareham High School, and later transferred to Upper Cape Cod Regional Technical School.
Marc has helped more than two dozen students attend college through a scholarship fund set up in his name and maintained by the Wankinquoah Rod and Gun Club.
When the Gleason Family YMCA was built, Marc surprised a good friend who was installing the brickwork, when a brick was donated bearing his name.
Marc lived his brief life to the fullest. He'd hiked the Appalachian Trail and spent a summer in Japan.
On Dec. 1 each year, Marc's father, Craig, lights a big star on the roof of the family's home. Located not far from the UMass Cranberry Station in East Wareham, the star can be seen glowing from Route 25.
Marc's mother, Pamela, who teaches at Minot Forest Elementary, gives back in Marc's name. She has made anonymous donations to people in need, and has spoken to Wareham High School students about the dangers of riding without a seatbelt.
"You make something positive of it. That's all you can do," Pamela said. "Just do some positive things. That's how Marc was."
Marc Schluter's life was short. Too short. But he will never be forgotten.
"What do you do when someone like that is taken away at too young of an age?" Scott asks. "You remember him, and you honor his name."
Want to join the Schluters in paying it forward this holiday season? Do something for someone else, big or small. Leave a note or tell the recipient of your good deed that Marc Schluter did it. Share your story on Facebook, or message Scott Schluter at email@example.com.