Joe Schreiner of Silverdale, Washington, died on June 14, 2014 at the age of 71. Born on Oct. 1, 1942 in Bakersfield, Joe spent much of his youth in Southern California where he attended Crawford High School in San Diego.
Upon graduation, he served four years in the US Air Force stationed in Korea, ending his tour at Travis Air Force Base. Following military service, he enrolled in San Bernadino Valley College and transferred to UC Davis, with the goal to become a teacher and coach. However, he graduated from UC Davis in 1972 during a period of severe cutbacks and layoffs in education. Therefore, he applied for positions in Yolo County and placed No. 1 in testing for a deputy sheriff position in the Yolo County Sheriff’s Department where he served the county as an exemplary officer from 1973 to 1986. During his tenure with the Sheriff’s Department, Joe established many lifelong friendships among his colleagues and members of the community.
Having established himself as a premier athlete during his stints in the US Air Force and college, his athletic prowess continued as a Yolo County Sheriff’s Deputy. Joe gold-medaled in five events — 5-mile run, springboard diving (1 and 3-meter), boxing and spearfishing — at the 1981 California Police Olympics. He earned more than 20 medals in a five-year span, and was dubbed the “Bionic Man of Yolo County.”
After retiring from law enforcement, Joe pursued his passion for the sea and started a successful venture with a crew and fleet of boats, harvesting exotic seafoods exported to Japan and abroad. After retiring from this endeavor, he never ceased to be enamored with the sea and continued skin diving for pleasure. During his years of sport competition, Joe held many world titles in spearfishing (landing a 355-pound grouper in 1979) and free diving (250 feet with an air tank and 132 feet without an air tank).
A fierce competitor, Joe was a boxer, three-time AAU-Golden Glove finalist and one-time AAU-Golden Glove champion, and one-time Diamond Belt champion. He was an All-American Jr. College springboard diving champion at San Bernardino Valley College, which paved his way to a pre-med scholarship at U. C. Davis, eventually graduating with a degree in Physical Education, and minors in German and Psychology.
Joe inspired many with his extraordinary athleticism, artistic abilities, gifts of intellect, and passion for living. It would take a book to do justice to Joe’s life and memory. His legacies are many, but if only one had to be chosen it would be to try to excel in all you do; aim high, and even if you don’t hit the mark, you will have done better than not trying at all.
A special mention goes to Brent Budden and Steve Blazina, two incredible, stalwart men that Joe was blessed to call “Friends,” as well as Karen Long Eilers (Carl) and the entire Long family who loved and cherished Joe in a way that words just cannot express.
Graveside services at Riverview Cemetery in Needles and a celebration of life in Davis are pending.