COOPERSTOWN – Robert Bernard Schlather, Esq., Cooperstown lawyer, CPA and philanthropist, died Wednesday afternoon, April 27, 2022, at Bassett Medical Center in Cooperstown as a result of a brain tumor diagnosed in June 2020. He was 75.
Born May 3, 1946, in Olmsted Falls, Ohio, Bob was the second eldest of thirteen children of Bernard Paul Schlather and Helen Virginia Bilskey. Raised in Elyria, Ohio, he graduated in 1964 from Elyria Catholic High School. He went on to attend and graduate magna cum laude with a BA in Accounting from Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, and earned his Juris Doctorate and graduated cum laude from University of Notre Dame Law School in South Bend, Indiana. In addition, he was awarded a Certificate in English and American Law from the University of London as part of the Notre Dame Law School curriculum. He successfully completed the New York State Bar and Certified Public Accountancy Exams in 1971 and commenced work in the tax department of Price Waterhouse & Co, in both New York City and London.
On July 14, 1973, Bob married his best friend, Karen Ruth Hammer in a ceremony at Saints Philip and James Roman Catholic Church in St. James, Long Island. They moved to Cooperstown in 1976.
As both an Attorney and a Certified Public Accountant, Bob began his practice in Cooperstown in 1977 with a focus on tax planning preparation, estate and trust planning and administration and real property transactions. In 1986, Robert W. Birch, Esq. joined Bob, and they formed Schlather & Birch, Attorneys at Law. In 1987 they formed a real estate service business, Cooper County Abstract Company, Inc., the largest abstract and title insurance company in Central New York, as well as Northern Otsego Management Company, Inc. In recent years, he was part of Schlather & Kinley CPAs PLLC with his partner, Patrick R. Kinley. Bob was a member of the New York State Bar Association and a member and treasurer of the Otsego County Bar Association.
Karen and Bob’s son, Robert Hammer (R.B.) Schlather was born and grew up in Cooperstown, to the joy of all who experienced his theatrical and operatic exploits.
In addition to his professional practice, Bob was an active member of his community through many memberships and affiliations. A long-time devotee of the Glimmerglass Opera, he served what is now Glimmerglass Festival for more than forty years in various leadership positions including as Chairman of the Board of Trustees, as well as Treasurer of the Board and briefly as Interim General Director. In February of this year, Glimmerglass Festival’s Board of Trustees named Bob an Honorary Life Trustee in recognition of his extraordinary service and exceptional contributions with the world-renowned program. The highest honor a Trustee can ever reach, Bob contributed thousands of hours to the Festival, helping the organization evolve from its years in the Cooperstown High School auditorium, and finding and securing the Company’s 37,000 square feet warehouse and rehearsal hall in the Town of Warren, a necessity and game-changer as the Festival grew in scope and reputation.
Bob also served as Trustee and Treasurer for more than thirty years of the Friends of Bassett Healthcare, and for many years as Trustee and President of Helios (Hospice) Foundation. He particularly enjoyed working with the parents of residents of Pathfinder Village, helping to ensure that those residents could remain at Pathfinder for as long as each chose, and considered these residents “his kids.”
He and his siblings established the Schlather-Bilskey Family Foundation in memory of their parents to provide scholarships to Elyria Catholic High School from which most of them were graduated.
A Paul Harris Fellow, he was an active member since 1979 and former president of the Cooperstown Rotary Club. He served nine years as Trustee of Hartwick College with a commitment to the importance of independent liberal arts colleges. Through the years he was also a member of the New York State Historical Association, the New York State Forest Owners Association, the Roseboom Historical Association, the Cooperstown Art Association, The Mohican Club and most recently was a founder of the Community Foundation of Otsego County.
An avid golfer, he was a subscriber to the Leatherstocking Golf Course since arriving in Cooperstown. As well, he was a member of Otsego Golf Club and a shareholder of Head of the Lake, Inc., the owner of the land on which Otsego Golf Club is located. He reveled in the time spent each winter in Vero Beach, Florida, with Bob, Chris, Richard, Ron and Earle, for as long as it lasted.
Bob is survived by his wife of 48 years, Karen; son R.B.; son-in-law Adam Weinert; his mother’s sister Rosemary Bilskey; sisters Sr. Mary Rita Schlather, SND, Sr. Mary Margaret Ann Schlather, SND, Jeanne Frey, Roseann Brown and Mary Agnes Schlather (Gary Hammil); and brothers Raymond (Kathleen), Paul (Karen), Donald (Darlene), David (Jennifer), Kenneth (Donna) and Patrick (Joanne); sister-in-law Rebecca; former sister-in-law Brooke; and numerous nieces and nephews.
He was predeceased by his parents, their many siblings, brother William, niece Erin Schlather and brother-in-law Lawrence Frey.
There will be no calling hours. A private Mass will be held at St. Mary’s “Our Lady of the Lake” Roman Catholic Church in Cooperstown. Livestream will be available by going to https://stmaryscoop.org and click on “View Livestream Here.” https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCLU1AjCYa9jQboBZU_KzVwg
He will be laid to rest in the St. James Methodist Church Cemetery in St. James on Long Island.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a gift to the Community Foundation of Otsego County, PO Box 55, Springfield Center, NY 13468, to be added to the Robert and Karen Schlather Donor Advised Fund for support of all things Otsego County, New York, particularly the performing arts.
Arrangements are under the care and guidance of the Connell, Dow & Deysenroth Funeral Home in Cooperstown.