Hilbert Israel Schotz was a voracious reader, storyteller and a one-time candidate for State Assembly who ran a scrappy, grassroots campaign out of his own pocket against an established Republican incumbent.
"It was a real shoestring budget, he did everything," said Schotz's son, Andrew Schotz, of Thurmont, Md. "His bedroom was his office."
The 1990 Democratic candidate for the 7th Assembly District, the leader of what he called the "98-cent campaign," was unsuccessful in his bid for public office against then-Assemb. Thomas Barraga, but he is remembered for his dedication to doing the right thing, family members said, and for the lives he touched as a school librarian and social worker. The West Islip man died Dec. 29 at Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center after being hospitalized for a respiratory illness. He was 81.
"Bert" Schotz was born in Syracuse to Abraham and Esther Schotz. He graduated from William Nottingham High School in Syracuse in 1951 and received his bachelor of arts degree from Syracuse University's College of Arts and Sciences in 1954.
Schotz was a social worker for Onondaga County Department of Social Services when he met Elenore Adasse in 1958 at a conference at Cornell University. She lived on a farm in Central Islip; soon, he left Syracuse and joined her on Long Island. They were married at the Bay Shore Jewish Center in 1958, and moved in the early 1960s to West Islip, where they raised their three children.
From the late '60s until retiring in 1986, he was a librarian at what is now Ronkonkoma Middle School. He passed his love of books on to his children.
His daughter Leslie Schotz of Bay Shore, rabbi at the Bay Shore Jewish Center, said her father's dedication to equal rights for women was empowering.
Both of Bert Schotz's grandfathers were rabbis, Leslie Schotz said, and Bert and Elenore were both ardent feminists. "So when my father was talking about the rabbis in the family, it seemed quite logical that girls could do it," she said.
Schotz's son, Andrew, said their father wanted to change things for the better. "He wasn't afraid to speak up when he thought something was wrong," Andrew Schotz said.
Schotz is also survived by daughter Isabelle Foreman of Ellicott City, Md.; a younger sister, Edith Hoffman of DeBary, Fla.; and a grandson.
After a Jan. 2 funeral at the Bay Shore Jewish Center, burial was at Oakwood Cemetery in Bay Shore.