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Elvis’ Taxi Driver In Madison, Eric “Rick” James Schumacher, Passes Away

April 10, 2011

Everyone has a story to tell, and Eric “Rick” James Schumacher had a most amazing one regarding Elvis Presley and a concert tour than landed the singer in Madison…and in a near fight.  The famed taxi driver passed away this past week.  This blog wants to honor Rick’s memory with his obituary.

Eric James

Eric “Rick” James Schumacher, age 56, of the Town of Middleton, passed away on Thursday, April 7, 2011, after a long illness.

He was the son of James David Schumacher and Marcia Muriel Lathrop, who predeceased him. He was born in Madison and graduated from Madison Memorial High School in 1972. He met his future wife, Vikki VanDeventer, in 1969 when they were both involved in Madison Stagecoach Players; she as an actress and he as a crew member. They were married in Erste Lutheran Kirche of Middleton in 1979. During their 41 years together, Eric and Vikki enjoyed traveling thousands of miles together to Maine, New York, California and Paris.

Eric worked for 30 years for the University of Wisconsin and retired in 2009 as a maintenance supervisor at the UW Extension Pyle Center. As a young cab and limo driver for Madison Checker Cab, Eric once drove Elvis Presley from the airport to his hotel, with an infamous stop at a gas station where Elvis broke up a fight. Eric was an accomplished amateur photographer who enjoyed working in the darkroom. He also collected classic 45 records and enjoyed radio repair and tinkering with electronics. He was a great reader and collected interesting volumes.

Eric was proud of having helped his father hand-build the home he and Vikki eventually lived in for 24 years, and of skillfully maintaining it. It was the setting of many eagerly anticipated Academy Awards parties featuring creative ballots and prizes.

Eric is survived by his wife, Vikki; a sister, Janet Lathrop of Amherst, Mass.; his mother and father-in-law, Patricia and Rodney VanDeventer of Edgerton; two brothers-in-law, Michael (Penny) VanDeventer of Deerfield and Gregory (Sheryl Rucker) VanDeventer of Edgerton; four nephews, Paul Downs of Chicago, Matthew VanDeventer of Deerfield, Nicholas VanDeventer of Deerfield, Broden VanDeventer of Edgerton; one niece, Alexis VanDeventer of Edgerton; and his best doggie pal, Derby.

A memorial service is being planned for the near future. The family wishes to thank the staffs of HospiceCare, Inc. and Meriter Hospital for their kind and compassionate care. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorials be made to HospiceCare, Inc. at 5375 E. Cheryl Parkway, Madison 53711.

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