Clear Vision: Remembering Donald Schneck

By Mary Beth Schwartz

“I shall pass through this world but once. Any good therefore that I can do or any kindness that I can show to any human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.” These inspirational words of India’s Mahatma Gandhi characterize the life of the late Donald Schneck, a loved and respected business and community leader, who also ran his family’s business, Art Schneck Optical Co., in Emmaus.

Donald Schneck was born in Allentown on January 1, 1944. He was the son of Doris and Arthur Schneck, had a brother, Dale and two sisters, Carol and Debra. “He had a talent for music. He loved playing the trumpet. Don was considering being a professional musician. That was pushed aside when his father started a fledgling optical business. Don worked with his dad in their Emmaus basement after school grinding lenses his junior and senior years. When he graduated from Emmaus High School, he joined his dad full time,” says Susan Schneck, his wife of 43 years.

Art Schneck Optical Co. moved to a Main Street storefront in 1959. After a few moves and a second location in Allentown, the Schneck family settled on its current location on Harrison Street in Emmaus in 1979. In 1983, Donald became the owner when he purchased the business from his retiring father.

“Our optical business continues to grow. We are manufacturing opticians who sell prescription eyewear for men, women, and children. Customers bring in their prescriptions and select from a wide selection of designer frames. The lenses are made to fit the frames. We also offer expert fitting. A comfortable pair of glasses is so important to get the maximum benefit of the prescription,” Susan Schneck says.

Although Donald had a passion for his trade, he also enjoyed his work with the community. “In the early 1970s, he was a charter member of the newly forming East Penn Area Jaycees, a visible and active civic organization in the Emmaus area. Don served in many capacities, including president of the chapter. He often collaborated with other service clubs in the Emmaus area” says Susan Schneck.

The Jaycees—The United States Junior Chamber—was founded in 1914 for active young citizens ages 18 to 40, who bring energy and insight to solving problems locally around the world. The Jaycees believe they can and should address the needs of others. Members can be found in over 100 countries. They share the passion for making a difference, interest in being part of something bigger than themselves, and a desire to grow and expand their horizons by being active in the community.  A philosophy emulated by Donald.

In the early 1990s, Donald was instrumental in the founding of the original East Penn Bank, and served on the Board of Directors. He also enjoyed attending church at Ebenezer United Church of Christ in New Tripoli.

After a day of community service, Donald enjoyed spending time with his wife Susan and daughter Amanda at their private equestrian facility, Blue Gate Farm, in Weisenberg Township. “He enjoyed hunting in his woods, fishing in our pond and the physical labor of the farm—cleaning stalls, mowing with the tractor. Don would trailer the horses to Amanda’s horse shows every weekend. He so enjoyed spending time with his dogs and the horses. He took pride in our home and surroundings. And he was skilled with tools. Don could fix things around the house, or build a piece of furniture. He had a strong work ethic and a monumental set of values. Don was caring, giving, a true gentleman,” Susan Schneck says.

Having lost Donald earlier this year, the Schneck family and employees honor him at Art Schneck Optical Co. by continuing his high level of customer service. “Everyone knew Don for his friendly smile. He believed in good service and a quality product at a fair price. He was an astute business man who enjoyed his work and the people he met. His level of professionalism endures,” Susan Schneck says.

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