William Schumacher Jr., Known As `Baker Bill,' Always Strove For The Best

William Schumacher Jr., whose Schumacher's Bakery in Seattle's Ravenna district was a destination bread-and-cake place for about eight decades, welcomed a challenge.

Whether turning out cinnamon rolls or winning a national water-ski championship, "Baker Bill" strove for the best.

"He has always told us - and there are seven of us kids - that second isn't good enough," said his daughter Bonnie Childs of Port Orchard.

Tall and tough, he was working at a bake table and teaching baking when he died.

Mr. Schumacher, who was 86, suffered a stroke Wednesday (June 9) at the Maltby Cafe northeast of Woodinville. He had worked at the cafe since 1994. Financial problems forced the sale of his namesake shop.

"He was a master baker," said cafe co-owner Tana Baumler. "He had specialties, like lemon angel-food cake and raisin bread.

"He was baking French rolls when he fell. Someone caught him. He couldn't talk. . . . After we finally got him (in a chair), I realized he was pointing to the oven. He wanted us to take out the French rolls."

Born in Vancouver, B.C., he moved to Seattle with his family. He helped at the Ravenna bakery, known formerly as Tastie Home, and played sports, mainly baseball.

He graduated from Roosevelt High School in 1931. He attended the University of Washington for two years and then managed Carnation Ice Creamery. After joining the bakery, which his father had started in 1913, in 1941, he featured homemade ice cream in

addition to pastries. He hired high-school and college students to help out, allowing them to eat their fill.

In the 1940s, he and friends started a water-skiing club on Lake Washington. They wore black tennis shoes nailed to cedar slats.

The accomplished baker became an accomplished water-skiing racer and hot-dogger. He could carry two people on his shoulders. His group even gave demonstrations.

He once water-skied from Seattle to Anacortes. He also had been towed by a seaplane and by the Slo-Mo-Shun IV hydroplane. He won a national championship in the 1950s.

He last water-skied at age 85.

He made his living at baking but saw returns drop as the cost of sugar skyrocketed. He didn't have the heart to raise prices dramatically.

"He kept working because he loved it, and he also wanted to support his young family," said his daughter.

He often brought his youngest child, Jeffrey, 11, to the Maltby Cafe, where he plied the lad with treats.

Also surviving are his wife, Fawn Schumacher; daughters Anna and Amy Schumacher of Bothell, Beverly Rogers of Houston, and Barbara Schumacher of Seattle; his son, Billy Schumacher of Dallas; his sister, Mildred Thompson of Stanwood; his brother, James Schumacher of Bothell; six grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren. His first wife, Vienna Schumacher, died in 1976.

Services are at 11 a.m. tomorrow at Trinity Presbyterian Church, 1315 N. 160th St., Seattle.

Carole Beers' e-mail address is cbeers@seattletimes.com