The Way We Were: Dr. Roy H. Schnauss

The Way We Were: Dr. Roy H. Schnauss
Dr. Roy Schnauss with Katherine, Melody with Roy, III

Most likely, there was never any question that Fauntleroy “Roy” Harris Schnauss would have a career in anything not related to medicine. After all, he comes from a long line of physicians.

Roy’s grandfather, Frederick Wilhelm Schnauss, was a general practitioner. His father, Fauntleroy, and uncle, W.R., were also general practitioners in Jacksonville. Where Roy didn’t follow in their exact footsteps was in selecting his area of medicine, opting to study ophthalmology instead.

The Schnauss family originally came from Coburg, Germany, where ancestors had an apothecary and assisted Martin Luther, father of the Protestant Reformation, in translating the Latin Bible into the native German tongue. “His portrait still hangs in the ancestral home,” said Roy, who was baptized at Trinity Lutheran Church on McDuff Avenue and still remains a devout member.

Dr. Roy and Melody Schnauss with Roy, III and Baby Katherine

Dr. Roy and Melody Schnauss with
Roy, III and Baby Katherine

Born January 31, 1940 at St. Luke’s Hospital in Springfield – where the staff photographed the delivery – Roy was later to play a significant role in saving that same hospital from demolition in the early 1980s, including donating a 1934 Rolls Royce for a raffle to raise money.

With a keen recollection of historic buildings, Roy remembers the Old Fairfax Theatre at St. Johns Avenue and Herschel Street, where movies cost a nickel in the 1940s. The family, which included brothers Fritz and John, lived on duPont Circle at that time.

He frequented Wurn’s Grocery, located next to the Lamp Post building, where the Jacksonville Fencing Club is located on Riverside Avenue. “My best buddy was Jeannie Wurn [Sack], who I still remain in touch with even today,” said Roy. “Her father, Lonnie Wurn, built a pool, which he used daily all year long. We all had such great fun in this pool.”

Childhood wasn’t all fun and games, though. “My mother believed in a classical education, so this meant piano and dance as well as art lessons at the original Children’s Museum on Riverside Avenue, and speech lessons given by Mrs. Wichersham at her home,” said Roy. Learning to read in kindergarten gave him a leg up when he enrolled at Fishweir Elementary School. He skipped first grade and met friends he still has today, including L.A. Hardy, Ann Towers Ball and Martha Bedell.

When he was 10, Roy’s family built a house in Ortega Forest on the only double lot, overlooking the junction of the Ortega River, Cedar Creek and Swimming Pen Creek. His father paid to have light posts installed – $25 each – so he could have a telephone in order for the hospital to reach him. “It was the fourth house built in Ortega Forest and we are the oldest original family here,” he said. “Back then, it was mostly woods.”

After the move to Ortega Forest, Roy was enrolled in Bolles, a boys’ military school at that time. He graduated in 1957 along with Frank Seghers, Father Conrad Cowart, Sam Alderman, Julian Hickory Fant, Hayward Ball, Ron Langley, Lance Christian Ringhaver, Frank Slaughter and Greg Smith.

“It is interesting to go back to see the very polished school Bolles has become,” he said. “I remember when there would be only two or three cars in the parking lot.”

Roy attended Emory University, then was accepted in to medical school there, where his grandfather had gone. “I had always been interested in the eye and decided to aim for ophthalmology, but first I had to complete an internship at the old Duval Medical Center, now associated with UF Health,” he recalled.

He was drafted into the Navy for two years as a general medical officer and served one year as the ship’s doctor in Da Nang, Vietnam, and the second year at the Naval Air Station in Jacksonville.

After spending one year practicing with his father, Roy finally returned to Emory for his residency in ophthalmology.

Keeping medicine in the family extended to the women as well. Roy’s mother, Jewell Wiggins Schnauss, had an R.N. from St. Luke’s School of Nursing in Jacksonville. And he met his future wife, Melody Baker, at Emory University, where she was the head nurse of the Department of Ophthalmology while Roy was in his residency.

Dr. Roy Schnauss and his mother, Jewell, with his wife, Melody, and their new son, Roy, III.

Dr. Roy Schnauss and his mother, Jewell, with his wife, Melody, and their new son, Roy, III.

“I circled her parents’ home three or four times before I got up the nerve to ask her to marry me,” said Roy. But it ended well when the couple were married Sept. 16, 1972 by his close friend Frank Seghers.

The couple’s son, Roy III, was born in September 1973, followed by their daughter, Katherine, in November 1975. Neither child opted to follow in the family tradition of medicine. Son Roy is in the funeral business with his brother-in-law, Cameron Naugle, while Katherine practices elder law in the Riverside office which once housed Schnauss’ ophthalmology practice and before that his father’s general practice.

When not peering into the eyes of his Jacksonville patients, Roy collected antique automobiles, and especially enjoys a 1936 Maybach, which may have been Rommel’s parade car in North Africa during World War II.

“I had a 1932 Rolls Royce during my residency in Atlanta and enjoyed driving it around town with Melody,” he said. “We are restoring a Continental Mark II at the present time.”

He also has a small farm where he has a nursery, a few miles from his home. When Katherine and Cameron married at the Ortega Forest home, Roy had to move many of his plants to the farm in order to clear space for seven tents.

“It’s a great place to get away from the worries of the world,” he said. “We are fortunate to still have a house on Kingsley Lake, where we spend many weekends.”

Roy stopped performing surgeries 2014, then retired from St. Vincent’s Medical Center Riverside in 2015. Rather than sell his practice, he gave the records to two doctors. Today he assists his son and son-in-law at Naugle Funeral Home and Cremation Services, and enjoys spending his free time with his two grandchildren.

By Kate A. Hallock
Resident Community News

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