Henry T. Schatz: “A Deep Commitment and Passion for the Community”

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Henry T. Schatz, UW philanthropist and Tacoma business leader, died Oct. 16 at the age of 78.

Henry T. Schatz, 1941-2019

The Milgard School of Business at UW Tacoma recognized Henry Schatz with a lifetime achievement award at its 2019 Business Leadership Awards ceremony.

His company was recognized for its “chutzpah,” its “guts,” and its “foresight.” So said former state World Trade Center CEO Anthony Hemstad in a 2009 News Tribune article.

But Henry T. Schatz, Tacoma business leader and UW philanthropist who died Oct. 16 at the age of 78, was also “very interested in people.” He was “interested in people succeeding,” said Denis Asay, human resources director at Tacoma’s General Plastics, the company Schatz headed for over 20 years.

Schatz was President of General Plastics, a family company in South Tacoma founded by his father, Louis W. Schatz, which started just prior to World War II as an aircraft and forestry industry supplier but has since grown into a leading producer of polyurethane and composite products for a wide variety of industries.

Schatz, who graduated from UW in Seattle in 1964 with a B.S. in mechanical engineering, was also a generous supporter of education and youth in the South Sound and beyond.

He established scholarship endowments in the Department of Mechanical Engineering on the Seattle campus in honor of Prof. James B. Morrison. A 2004 news article about the gift quotes Schatz as saying that it was in Morrison’s class on dynamics that he “learned how to think.”

Henry T. Schatz, at left, receives congratulations from Cal Bamford at the 2019 UW Tacoma Business Leadership Awards.At UW Tacoma, Schatz’s gifts support many activities, including scholarships and fellowships in the School of Engineering & Technology, endowed scholarships for business students named in honor of Gary and Carol Milgard, the Math & Science Education Scholarship Fund, the Tacoma Next Step Scholarship and other general scholarship support at UW Tacoma.

Schatz had a long association with the Boys & Girls Clubs of South Puget Sound. His gift made possible the opening of the Henry T. Schatz Branch in South Tacoma. In a video produced to honor Schatz with a lifetime achievement award at UW Tacoma’s 2019 Business Leadership Awards, Carrie Holden, President & CEO of the non-profit, noted that “Henry is an incredible character. You can tell that he has such deep commitment and passion for the community, and for making sure that people within the community have the tools they need to be successful in life.”

The Schatz family is planning a celebration of life, with arrangements coordinated by Mountain View Funeral Home, at 2 p.m. on Nov. 2 at the Tacoma Golf & Country Club in Lakewood, Wash.

Written by: 
John Burkhardt / October 31, 2019
Media contact: 

John Burkhardt, UW Tacoma Communications, 253-692-4536 or johnbjr@uw.edu