Edna Schoch (1915-2006) remembered for partnering with husband Ed in legendary Old Town hardware store
Edna Hiler Schoch, age 90, died Jan. 15 of natural causes. She was the widow of Ed Schoch, with whom she had run the well-known Schoch's Hardware Store for
nearly 50 years in Old Colorado City.
Mr. Schoch had died last August at the Westside home she and Ed had bought when they first moved to Colorado Springs in 1949.
“It was quite a blow for us to lose them both so quickly,” said Kathy Frazier, their oldest daughter, who lives now in Boulder. Also surviving are daughters Elaine Reeves of Aurora and Marianne Pickering of Cody, Wyo., and five grandchildren.
Edna was born Nov. 4, 1915, Tower Hill, Ill, Kathy recounted in a phone interview. Ed Schoch and his future wife met when they were just toddlers - his family living on an adjoining farm. Even though Ed's family moved to Arizona not long afterward, their families stayed in touch over the years, according to Edna's interview with the Westside Pioneer after Ed's death last August.
Growing up in Illinois, Edna lost her dad at age 12; he died of a burst appendix. She also had a younger sister who died young, Kathy said.
Edna went to a teachers college and taught in a one-room schoolhouse for 10 years. During World War II, with Ed in the Army, she joined the Red Cross and served Palestine, Egypt, Okinawa and Hawaii before coming home.
Meanwhile, she kept in touch as much as possible with her future husband, who was earning two Bronze Stars and the Silver Star for bravery in battles against the Japanese in the Pacific Theater.
“They had made the decision that if Daddy came back from the war, they would get married,” Kathy said.
This finally happened March 15, 1947. For a time afterward, the Schochs lived in the Chicago area, with Ed working in wholesale hardware and Edna at an insurance company. Two years later, they moved to Colorado Springs, bought their house and started their hardware store, never going into debt. “He'd saved his money, and she'd saved hers,” Kathy said.
The first years of the store, it was manned chiefly by Ed and his father, William, a civil engineer who had lost a hand when he was a teenager. William died in about 1962. Meanwhile, Edna stayed home and took care of the growing family. But it wasn't long before the kids got involved in the family business. “We helped down at the store even at very young ages,” she said. “I started working the cash register at age 7. I had to know how to make change and everything.”
Edna started working regularly at the store herself in 1961 when her third child, Marianne, was age 5, Kathy recalled.
She has mixed memories of her days working in the hardware store. “The hardest part for all us girls was the customers' attitude that what could a woman know about hardware,” she said. It was even harder being young. “An old, grizzled plumber would come and want a widget, and say, 'Where's your mom and dad?' ”
Edna, who initially had little more knowledge of hardware than her children, got some of the same treatment, but “she didn't let it get her down,” Kathy said. “She got to know where things were better than Daddy did.”
The pattern developed where Ed would come in very early to take care of paperwork, then Edna would come in to work around 10 a.m. and Ed would return in the afternoon and close the store at 6 p.m.
Schoch's was open Monday through Saturday. Sunday was the day for laundry, cooking and mowing the lawn. “All the things that other families did in two days we did in one,” Kathy said.
But the store was the center of the Schoch parents' lives. “We spent more hours on that store,” Edna said in her interview last September.
Her pride and joy, according to Kathy, was the store's front windows. “They were always gorgeous,” she said. “She would change them for the seasons. The westside window was always housewares, and the eastside was tools and male stuff.”
Edna showed a sense of humor in her windows. A display with duct tape once had pictures of ducks.
When the store finally closed in 1996, “there was still fall foliage she'd put in the front windows,” Kathy remembered. “We gave it to Mom, and she used it after that for decorations at the house. She had the foliage up last fall. So we got to see it one last time.”
Westside Pioneer article