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Father of Terri Schiavo dies

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (BP)–Robert S. Schindler Sr., who was at the center of a legal battle to save the life of his brain-injured daughter Terri Schindler Schiavo, died Aug. 29 in St. Petersburg, Fla., from heart failure.

Schindler, 71, along with his wife and other children, sought to protect Schiavo’s right to receive food and water, but her husband, Michael Schiavo, prevailed in a court battle for her nutrition and hydration to be withdrawn. Terri Schiavo died in March 2005, 13 days after her feeding tube was withdrawn.

The high-profile, decade-long battle — which ultimately reached the state’s and nation’s highest courts -– garnered extensive media attention over her parents’ and siblings’ opposition to Michael Schiavo’s legal efforts.

After Terri Schiavo’s death, Robert, his wife Mary and their children, Suzanne Schindler Vitadamo and Bobby Schindler, started the Terri Schindler Schiavo Foundation to support the rights of disabled persons and families in similar situations.

David O’Steen, the National Right to Life Committee’s executive director, said in a written statement, “In life, Bob, and his wife Mary, never sought the spotlight. They only wished to care for their beloved daughter, Terri. Through their selfless dedication to Terri, they showed the nation and the world what it means when someone says they are ‘pro-life.'”

“Bob Schindler was an extraordinary father, husband and friend,” said Wanda Franz, NRLC president. “His death is a profound loss for all of us in the pro-life movement.”

Schindler’s son Bobby said in the statement issued by the family, “My dad was a man of integrity, character and compassion who was blessed with a close and loving family. Even at the height of the battle to save my sister Terri’s life, when his patience and temperance was near exhaustion, he managed to display a gentleness of spirit.”

In 1990, Terri Schiavo, then 26, collapsed of unknown causes and subsequently was diagnosed with hypoxic encephalopathy — a neurological injury caused by lack of oxygen to the brain. She remained in a compromised neurological state until her death.

In addition to his wife, son and daughter, Schindler, of Gulfport, Fla., is survived by a granddaughter, Alexandra.

A funeral is scheduled for Sept. 4 at Our Lady of Good Counsel Catholic Church in Southampton, Pa. In lieu of flowers, the Schindler family asks that contributions be made to the Teri Schindler Schiavo Foundation. A memorial service in Florida is to be announced.
Adapted from reports by Joni B. Hannigan, managing editor of the Florida Baptist Witness (www.floridabaptistwitness.com), and Tom Strode, Baptist Press Washington bureau chief.

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