David Schele was passionate about three things: his family, cars and helping people.
"(Dave was) an outgoing, happy person, jovial and extremely giving," his brother Brian Schele said on Sunday. "He’s the type of person that would give you his last dollar and not expect anything in return."
David Schele owned and operated the Close Encounters Collision Center body shop in North Aurora for just over 30 years. Schele, a Sugar Grove resident, died Friday in a two-car crash on Randall Road in Batavia. He was 61.
Brian Schele does not know much more about the crash other than what was reported in the media. He learned from one of his three other brothers that Schele was on his way to see a movie at the Randall 15 on Friday when a collision happened with some type of sport-utility vehicle.
There was damage to the driver's side of Schele's silver Toyota Corolla, his brother said. As the family waits for more answers from Batavia police, they think back about Schele and the life he lived.
"He was known especially in this area as one of the best car painters around," Brian Schele said. "There were people that brought motorcycles and cars from all over because he was one of the best auto painters in the business."
David Schele began doing paint work at the Morrison family body shop right after he graduated from West Aurora High School.
Schele’s talent was evident, even in his early years. He took his black and burgundy 1970s Pantera GTS and painted it all black with the lettering and wheels redone in gold. The fender flares were redone with 24-karet gold rivets. This work won Schele the Best Paint in Show at a World of Wheels Chicago auto show one year, his brother said.
Schele’s paint work also made the cover and inside of a few custom car magazines, including Car Craft Magazine, The Wild World of Street Machines and Popular Hot Rodding.
Schele himself did not have a vast car collection, but he still owned one of the cars that made a magazine cover—a 1973 Corvette.
After working at Morrison's, Schele went to D & L Auto Rebuilders and then opened his own shop in 1982. Schele built up a strong and loyal customer base, including North Aurorans who wanted their 1960 and 1973 Camaros painted.
“That was always his passion — hot rods, sports cars, motorcycles … painting the cars and fixing them up,” his brother said.
Schele spoke of the quality work he provided at the shop on the Collision Center website. He encouraged customers to pick their own repair shops and not let the insurance companies steer them to places that might use recycled parts from scrap yards to fix their cars.
Like many businesses, Schele’s body shop had to weather the storm after the economy began to suffer in 2008. People that used to spend thousands of dollars to restore their cars now needed that money to buy essentials like food.
“When the economy tanked, then everybody’s businesses suffered and his was no different,” Brian Schele said. “But he still maintained a business and kept it going.”
Spread across three states, the Schele brothers and their families see each other during the holidays and when they can.
A Sandwich, IL, resident, Brian Schele lives the closest and saw his brother a couple times a month. He knew that David kept their mother company, especially after their father Robert died in 2001.
Along the way, Schele married and had a son, also named Dave. Like his father, Dave, 27, grew up and works in the Aurora area. He is a warehouse manager at Woodman’s in North Aurora.
As Schele’s son sorts out his father’s affairs and decides what to do with the body shop, his uncle said that the family is there to support and guide him through this difficult time. They all remember his father fondly.
"The thing about Dave is that he was a great brother, and nobody has a bigger heart than he did," Brian Schele said. "It was about making other people happy before himself. Anybody that knew him, the sentiment was the same. Not only was he a great brother, he was a great son to my parents and a great dad."
A visitation for Schele will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 22, 2013, at the Daleiden Mortuary, 220 N. Lake St., Aurora. This will immediately be followed by a funeral service at 1 p.m., also at Daleiden Mortuary.
- Batavia Police Name Driver in Fatal Crash Friday on Randall Road
- Man Dies After 2-Car Crash Friday on Randall Road
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