Daily Egyptian

Online fundraiser set up for Fairdale man whose wife died in tornado

By Tony Briscoe, Chicago Tribune

An online fundraiser started Friday looks to help a Fairdale man whose wife was killed and home destroyed in storms that ravaged central and northern Illinois last week, according to family friends.

Sue Frazier said a friend created a donation page on crowdfunding website GoFundMe.com to help Frazier’s 84-year-old father, Clem Schultz, after his wife, Geraldine “Geri” Schultz, 69, was one of two women killed when an EF-4 tornado devastated the small unincorporated community of 1,700 residents.

By Sunday evening, the fundraiser, which aims to raise $25,000, had raised more than $7,000, some of which will go toward Geri Schultz’s funeral expenses, according to the fundraiser.

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“I’m absolutely humbled by the love and selflessness,” Frazier said. “I didn’t expect anything. … It’s overwhelming. I don’t have the words.”

Others are seeking donations for storm survivors through crowdfunding sites. One such fundraiser, on the website YouCaring.com, posted a goal of raising $5,000 for a local charity to help people affected by storm damage and had garnered more than $13,000 in donations as of Sunday evening.

Schultz suffered a gash on his forehead, bruises on his jaw and swelling to his right hand before emerging Friday from the rubble that was his house, one of 24 destroyed in Fairdale.

“I felt the house shudder and move, and I got buried in rubble,” he told the Tribune. “When it was all over, I dug myself out and saw people walking in the streets and I heard propane hissing from the tanks.”

Since the storm, Schultz has moved in with his son and has been coming to terms with his loss “day by day,” Frazier said Sunday.

“Today was the worst,” she said. “The shock is wearing off and the pain is setting in, both physically and emotionally. I mean, to have his whole life in a pile of rubble.”

The tornado that rumbled through Fairdale, Rochelle and Franklin Grove was one of eight tornadoes that touched down across Illinois — but it was by far the strongest. The twister was categorized as an EF-4, with winds as high as 200 mph, according to the National Weather Service.

In the midst of the widespread destruction, Frazier was also thankful for the ComEd workers who helped find her father’s white German shepherd named Missy, who went missing during the chaos.

“They were bound and determined to find our dog,” she said. “The amount of kindness, you know, was shocking. It kind of makes you wonder, ‘Why does it take something like this? Why can’t we be nice everyday like this?'”

Contact the Tribune reporter at [email protected]

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