Cover photo for Peter Schulz's Obituary
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1944 Peter 2021

Peter Schulz

November 25, 1944 — June 25, 2021

Peter Douglas Schulz quietly passed away from natural causes while playing cards with his wife Jeanette and son Robert, at the age of 76 years and seven months. He was a nice guy and a gentleman and a scholar.

Peter was born November 25, 1944 in Fairbury Nebraska and was the first child of Orpheus Peter Schulz and Margaret Louise Ruhnke. In the next few years, he was joined by his brother Jan, sister Teri and youngest brother Roe. He spent his childhood in Nebraska and Missouri and attended various elementary schools where he read constantly and quickly displayed a natural talent for drawing, both of which he continued all his life. He liked Scrooge McDuck comics, especially Uncle Scrooge’s exotic travel adventures with Donald and nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie.

In Peter’s early teenage years, the family moved to Napa California where Peter graduated from Napa High School. He then spent the summer of 1965 in Chico at a UCLA-sponsored archaeological field class where two important events occurred, he met life-long friend Jim West and Peter became interested in majoring in Anthropology with an emphasis in Archaeology.  Although he steadfastly claimed this interest was a result of his childhood exposure to the Scrooge McDuck adventures, the eclectic and interdisciplinary nature of studies in Anthropology appealed to his wide-ranging curiosity and intellect. It combines history, the natural environment, social and cultural behavior, foodways and nutrition, health studies, and the opportunity to spend major time outdoors in the field. He enrolled at San Francisco State College (now University) for a Master’s degree.

While attending classes, he developed a friendly rivalry with a classmate, Jeanette Zanutto, over who would get the highest grade in the class on mid-terms, final exams and term papers. Over cups of tea in the school cafeteria, walks around campus to talk theory and practice, library study sessions and attendance at free concerts in Golden Gate Park, they became steady companions which turned into 55 years of marriage. After the birth of their son Robert in 1967, Peter completed his Masters and decided to pursue a doctoral degree with the thought of an academic career.

Peter chose the University of California at Davis with its relatively new Anthropology Department to complete the advanced degree; his good friend Jim West was also enrolled in the program. Coming from the Bay Area, the family had to adjust to the hot summers of the valley, but soon settled in and appreciated the cooler evenings which provided relief and a time for walks around the then small town.

One summer Peter took a job with the newly formed California State Parks Department in Sacramento and discovered there were over 250 state parks in California with every kind of geography, historic structures, historic cultural diversity in a depth of time from very early and long prehistoric settlement to the Californio era, the Gold Rush period, agricultural development, urbanization of towns, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) era and the post-World War II recreational expansion and more. His interest was captured and he joined the California State Parks Cultural Resources Division while continuing to complete his doctorate, which he did in 1981. He became a full-time State Parks employee with a total career of over 40 years, retiring in 2008. He deeply valued all of his work colleagues and the friends he made through his years at State Parks.

Highlights of years of study, recordation, excavation and analysis, stabilization and rehabilitation projects include Old Town San Diego adobe buildings and trash deposits; Old Town Monterey adobes and trash deposits; China Camp State Park ethnic structures and foodways including the zooarchaeology of the bay fishing and shrimp industry; Samuel P. Taylor CCC campground features; prehistoric coastal middens; prehistoric sites at San Luis Reservoir; Fort Ross State Historic Park buildings; Woodland Opera House restoration excavations; and excavations for urban redevelopment at Old Sacramento State Historic Park which produced the largest known and most documented collection of Gold Rush era artifacts from ceramics to bottles to historic seeds and meat cuts, now housed at the California Statewide Museum Collection Center, within its State Archaeological Collections and Research Facility, located at the former McClellan AFB in the Sacramento area. In 1989, for two years Peter led a team of archaeologists and historians to inventory and develop general management plans for fourteen state parks. One of Peter’s favorite projects was his fifteen years of work at Bodie State Historic Park where he mentored then graduate student Andrea Morrison (now Galvin) as she wrote her master’s thesis on the single wall construction techniques and materials of the historic Bodie townsite buildings to guide future repair and stabilization efforts. Peter also recorded many of the buildings as well, producing exacting photos and plan and elevation drawings to permanently document their condition. He enjoyed working with the highly dedicated Bodie park staff to preserve the townsite and the Standard Mill in their historic condition.

Because historical archaeology was not well-known on the west coast decades ago, Peter collaborated with colleagues at CalTrans to teach a series of classes on aspects of historic preservation, historic archaeology, and historic artifact analysis. These initial classes set the standard for the series of classes that are still taught today. In 2002 Peter wrote manuals on CEQA and Public Resources Code 5024 to guide State Parks in the preservation of cultural resources when conducting projects under these important environmental regulations.

Peter maintained an academic connection as well, publishing over 50 articles in professional journals, and doing research projects at the UC Berkeley Anthropology Department and the Phoebe Apperson Hearst Museum of Anthropology. He was a long-time Research Associate at the UC Davis Anthropology Department where he advised and mentored multiple graduate students in the techniques of original research and in exacting recordation and analysis methods. On the basis of Peter’s considerable expertise in faunal analysis and identification of archaeological fish remains, in the 1990s, he served as an expert witness for UC Davis in a case involving historic stream flows and native fish populations along Putah Creek. As part of his research into the history of salmonid and other fish species in prehistoric middens of the Sacramento Delta and other areas of California, he developed the Peter D. Schulz Osteoichthyology Collection, located in the Zooarchaeology Lab, which provides a large combined collection of comparative fish specimens for faunal analysis studies.

Working with several long-time friends, Peter partnered in a small consulting company in downtown Davis, variously known as Brienes, West and Schulz; Farris, West and Schulz; and Farris and Schulz. Each member indulged their particular research interest while providing well-respected services to the professional community. Peter was part of a group, “the Bottle Research Group” who researched all things related to historic bottle manufacture and dating and who were, and are, instrumental in assisting Bill Lindsey, BLM archaeologist retired, in his development and management of the Historic Glass Bottle Identification and Information Website hosted on-line by the Society for Historical Archaeology.

In 2010 Peter unfortunately suffered a severe stroke with his survival in doubt. His wife Jeanette asked the doctors to provide palliative care and treatment which they did with the result that Peter slowly regained his mental awareness and a moderate physical ability. Although his speech was limited to a few words and phrases his mind remained sharp and he understood everyone. He could stand and transfer but required use of a wheelchair for everyday mobility. With his usual combination of hard work and determination, Peter embarked on long-term rehabilitation efforts and achieved a level of independence that surprised his doctors but not his family. On his journey Peter had the good fortune to connect with skilled and caring people at the Davis Center for Speech Pathology (now closed), the Sacramento State Maryjane Rees Language, Speech and Hearing Center and its Neuro Service Alliance program, and Physical Edge in Davis for his physical therapy and fitness programs. Peter’s preferred clothing was a Hawaiian shirt and chinos and he convinced the staff at Physical Edge that they were OK for exercising and work-outs as well. The positive influence of the work of all of these professionals on Peter’s life experience is immeasurable and Jeanette and Robert are forever grateful for their substantial skills and inherent kindness.

Another factor in Peter’s independence was the arrival of Carlito “Lito” Rivera, his personal assistant who became his friend and then his brother over the nearly ten years they were together. Peter and Lito were regulars at the Stephens Davis Library bringing home weekly arm-loads of books and bluegrass and eclectic music on CDs, and many movies. Peter liked the challenge of puzzles and completed several a week, sometimes in competition with Lito. Lunch out was a daily pleasure and they became well-known at all the casual fare eateries in town, having a known standard order at some. All the service staff were invariably kind and friendly. At Jeanette’s suggestion, Peter attended a couple classes at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) available through UC Davis Extension. He and Lito became fans and regular attendees of the lively range of classes offered through the OLLI program.

When school was in session, Peter and Lito drove to Sacramento State where he attended classes through the Neuro Service Alliance, a program of traditional and non-traditional group programs done by supervised graduate and undergraduate students of the Speech Department for them to gain practical clinical knowledge and work skills. Peter really enjoyed this program because he was once again mentoring students in developing skills and work techniques and there were art classes where he could draw and create collages and other art. He even won an art contest for one of his paintings.

An especial pleasure of Peter’s was his Friday card games with life-long friends Jim West and Glenn Farris and others who came by now and then. Theirs was a no-holds- barred fierce completion for the biggest pile of chips at the end of each session. Jim and Glenn were convinced Peter memorized all the hands previously played and was thereby able to out-maneuver them many times in the weekly contest. Peter and Lito played cards daily which undoubtedly also sharpened his playing skills.

In 2017, Jeanette and Glenn closed the Farris and Schulz Consulting Office and Peter’s friend and colleague Rebecca Allen assisted Peter in distributing his research library of several thousand books and files of original research papers to multiple educational facilities at UC Berkeley, San Jose State University, Stanford University, the University of New Orleans and at the California Statewide Museum Collection Center, within its State Archaeological Collections and Research Facility. These collections will mentor many new students and researchers through the years.

Before his stroke, Peter and Jeanette traveled to Europe, Australia, Tasmania and Canada and with their son Robert to Hong Kong and mainland China. They all traveled to multiple US states including Hawaii where Peter volunteered at the Hawaii State Bishop Museum for a summer session. He and Robert enjoyed the lava flow tours and driving around to the various beaches on the island.

Peter’s down-to-earth manner, wry and ironic sense of humor and a genuine curiosity about everyone he met gained him many friends and acquaintances over the years. He thoroughly enjoyed interacting with people and exchanging ideas wherever he went.

Peter is survived by his wife Jeanette, his son Robert, his brother Jan, his beloved sister Teri and her husband Jim and his brother Roe and his wife Tracy, and Lito and his family, as well as his Aunt Billie and Aunt Dorothy, multiple cousins, nieces and nephews, and great nieces and nephews, and a great-great niece, all of whom he adored and delighted in visiting. Peter advises all his friends and colleagues to wear Hawaiian shirts and laugh a lot.

In lieu of flowers memorial donations may be made to the Sacramento State Maryjane Rees Language, Speech and Hearing Center at or to California Trout, an organization that uses science and community collaboration to “create resilient wild fish in healthy waters for a better California” at

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