Tribute to Carole M. Schneider

Carole SchneiderCarole Marie Schneider passed away on July 30, 2013, in Omaha, Nebraska after a long battle with cancer. She was 63.  Along with what follows here, those who knew Carole have their own memories to cherish. Our greatest tribute to Carole lies in these shared stories and in our willingness to live them out.

Carole was born December 14, 1949 to William and Colette Schneider in West Bend, Iowa. She was the sixth of seven children and grew up in Algona, Iowa, where she graduated from Garrigan Catholic High School in 1968. From there, she attended Briar Cliff College in Sioux City, IA, earning a B.S. in physical education in 1972.  She pursued graduate studies in exercise physiology at Iowa State University (M.S., 1982) and the University of Minnesota (Ph.D., 1986). She then began her career in higher education. She was assistant professor at Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX, from 1986-1988 and at the University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS, from 1988-1992.

In 1992, Carole joined the faculty at the University of Northern Colorado (UNC), Greeley, CO, where she was a professor of Sport and Exercise Science and the co-founder and director of the Rocky Mountain Cancer Rehabilitation Institute (RMCRI), which became the focus of her work and is her greatest legacy.

After being diagnosed with cancer in November 1995, Carole spent the next 18 years fighting cancer personally and professionally. She drew upon her expertise as an exercise physiologist to counter the negative side effects of her own radiation and chemotherapy treatments with exercise and nutrition. Out of her experience, RMCRI was established in 1997 as an entity of the College of Health and Human Sciences, now the College of Natural and Health Sciences, at UNC. It is the only facility of its kind in the country and is recognized as a frontrunner in cancer rehabilitation.

For Carole, the colleagues with whom she worked and the cancer survivors they served became extended family and the heart and soul of RMCRI. Since its inception in 1997, the Institute has served over 1,000 survivors, who credit the program with helping them regain health and hope during their treatment and recovery. Additionally, Carole’s influence on scores of undergraduate and graduate students is difficult to overstate. She taught and mentored over 550 undergraduate students and almost 300 graduate students as researchers, teachers, and cancer rehabilitation specialists. She was tenaciously passionate and tireless about her work in a way that elevated the dedication and performance of all around her.

Carole’s pioneering work also spread through her research and annual workshops. With fellow RMCRI directors, Reid Hayward, Ph.D., and Kurt Dallow, M.D., Carole became a leading researcher regarding the benefits of exercise and nutrition intervention during and after cancer treatment. In annual summer workshops, Carole and her colleagues trained over 120 health care professionals from around the world to implement and manage similar rehabilitation programs in their own communities.

Carole’s dedication to her work was surpassed only by her dedication to her family and friends. She relished time with her siblings and their families and traveled regularly to Nebraska and Iowa for holidays and reunions. Family softball games in the backyard instilled a life-long love of sports. Carole played softball and coached women’s softball and basketball at the high school level. She was an avid fan of KU basketball, and woe to the person who interrupted her during the final minutes of a close game! Carole loved the mountains of Colorado, enjoyed treks in the high country, and built her home in Greeley with a spectacular view of the Front Range. She also enjoyed looking for new art and artists whenever she traveled around Colorado and beyond. Carole was a woman of faith, a Catholic with an ecumenical heart, which taught her to live fully in the moment. She stood firmly in the presence of God, where she met her cancer with humor, optimism, courage, and grace.

Carole is survived by five of her six siblings: Sandra Schmitt, Russell Schneider, Diane Downs, Marlene Schneider, and Michael Schneider; her sisters-in-law, Patricia Schneider and Marcia Schneider; her brothers-in-law, Richard Schmitt and Douglas Downs; and numerous nieces and nephews. Her parents, William and Colette Schneider, and her older brother, Richard Schneider, preceded her in death. A Celebration of Life ceremony will be held on the UNC campus at a later date.  A UNC endowed scholarship fund in Schneider’s name has been established to support doctoral students in Exercise Physiology, Memorial contributions may also be made to the RMCRI operating fund at