Charles Clark Oljetoh Schmitt
It is a shame when the world loses a compassionate energetic explorer. Charles Clark Oljetoh Schmitt (Clark) passed away, the morning of March 31, after a two-year rollercoaster ride with cancer.
Like much of Clark’s life, that two-year ride was full of white-knuckle moments and exhilaration. Clark fought off colon cancer in 2017 with emergency surgeries and chemo and was able to travel to Barcelona to visit his sister, complete all the academic work in high school that year, participate in track, ski the back bowls of Lake Louise, work as a counselor at Catamount mountain bike camp, go to a “free ski” camp on Mt. Hood and make it through Champlain Valley Union’s Cross Country running season. Cancer quickly caught up with him late last fall and it has been an epic battle ever since. Though his whole battle with cancer, he had moments of great suffering and sorrow, this was counterbalanced by Clark’s grace, resolute strength and positivity. Much of this time has been enriching, full of humor, love and a heightened sense of what a gift every day is.
Clark was born May 4, 2001, on the Navajo Indian Reservation, delivered by his father in the Fort Defiance Indian Health Service Hospital where his parents Kim and Chuck were working. He was born six weeks early. We are convinced he wanted to come out and join the fun since just two weeks prior his sister Izzy, adopted from China, had arrived. Clark spent the first five years on the reservation and then the family moved back to Shelburne where he could adventure and ride his bike in the same woods that his dad explored as a child. Moving back east allowed him to spend more time with his two grandmothers, Stephanie and Paula. Clark was a wonderfully spirited child; excellent teachers, coaches and great friends helped to foster his energy full of curiosity, creativity, humor and exploration.
Clark loved unicycling, running and Nordic skiing, but especially loved mountain biking and backcountry/free-skiing. He avidly followed the online community of extreme skiers and their videos and loved rounding up his friends for adventures. Many times the adventures would involve “getting footy for the boys” and capturing as much as they could with cameras, drones and GoPros and then editing the footage and music into increasingly sophisticated videos. Clark’s favorite computer game was Adobe Premiere video editing software. In 2017, Clark was in the top 30 for NENSA U16 Nordic skiers in the central/east division and made it to the finals of the Ski-the-East Extreme Comp Free-skiing finals at Jay Peak.
Clark’s classmates at CVU have recently hada numerous opportunities to consider their own mortality including the sudden death of a close friend this past year. Though things ended too soon for Clark, at least we all had time to talk about what is areally important in life. As a family it had been amazing to see the great web of relationships and experiences that connect Clark to the community become so evident and to hear how important these ties were to so many. This was never more evident than at a celebration of life we had a Bolton Valley on March 6 where hundreds of people gathered to share food and memories with Clark. At the celebration, he received an honorary diploma from CVU as well as a trail named after him at Bolton. He is accepted into UVM, but has larger plans now.
Who knows what happens when our consciousness and soul are freed of the dimensions of this world, but with Clark we’re sure it will be something wonderful. Having Clark go so soon could be mistaken for a rocket aimed for the moon that never made it off the launch pad, but is apparently more like lighting a candle that turned out to be fireworks. These fireworks though continue – all the energy that was at his celebration, and all the energy that Clark has shared with others continues to exist. As Clark said it, “I feel I’ve lived more in 17 years than many people have in their whole lives.” We hope that Clark’s experience and energy continue in others, continue in you. We hope that some element of adventure or compassion comes to fruition in your life because of him. This is what he wanted.
If you wish to make a donation in his name, “Protect Our Winters” and “Flyin Ryan Hawks Foundation” were organizations he valued. Small local services will be held at the 18 places he has designated for spreading his ashes.