Remembering substitute teacher Robert Schepp


Lexy Bolin

Wearing special glasses, Schepp views the solar eclipse Aug. 21, 2017. An electrical engineer for McDonnell Douglas during the Mercury Project, Schepp loved space. “Mr. Schepp never had a dull moment. He was a ray of sunshine,” junior Umeera Farooq said.

The community mourns the loss of Mr. Robert Paul “Bob” Schepp who passed away March 7. Schepp, who was born Sept. 18, 1934, worked as an electrical engineer for McDonnell Douglas. A science and learning enthusiast, Schepp was a frequent substitute teacher.

“He made us realize that the childlike curiosity we have [for] learning doesn’t leave us when we leave school. He showed us that you can explore in the rest of your life. As soon as you walked in and saw him as your sub, it was always an amazing feeling,” junior Jon Ma said.

Schepp was one of the “Mercury 6,” six of the guidance and control engineers from McDonnell Douglas who worked on the autopilot system for both the Mercury and the Gemini Capsules. Schepp often told stories of his travels to Cape Canaveral to work alongside NASA during these projects. The Mercury Project was the first to send an American man into Earth’s orbit.

“I started taking him and the ‘Mercury 6’ to travel around for panel discussions. I got to hang out with him and his friends and hear their stories. It was so fun to listen to,” science teacher Colleen O’Toole said. “I loved the road trips to Indiana with him. I once told him he could be in charge of music and he put this CD in, and it was opera and he didn’t take it out the whole time. So I think I may have heard “Madam Butterfly” like 15 times.”

O’Toole first met Schepp when he started substitute teaching. Principal’s assistant Susan Lowenstein connected her to him because they shared an interest in space.

Carly Anderson

“We just got to talking and he would come in my room and chat, and then I started having him come in to talk to my Astronomy class and we would go to different space events and lectures around St. Louis together,” O’Toole said. “In the past several years he had become like a father to me.”

Schepp was known for his storytelling and his love for exploration and learning.  

“Mr. Schepp was someone who had a really interesting life story and was open to talking about just about anything. One time my tennis team was waiting to leave and I bumped into him and we started like a 10-minute conversation; first about tennis and then he started telling me about how he saw the Mount Saint Helens eruption. And I just thought ‘wow’ he is full of really cool stories,” Ma said.

Junior Umeera Farooq will remember Schepp for how he made the classroom light up with his presence.

“He was one of the kindest souls I have ever met. Everyone loved and respected him and he will never be forgotten. He continuously lifted everyone’s spirits and brought smiles to every class he subbed for,” Farooq said.

Schepp will be missed by the students and teachers he inspired, as well as by his four daughters and four grandchildren.

“I learned a lot from his passion for education and knowledge. He cared about learning and he wanted other people to love to learn,” O’Toole said. “And when you have been in the classroom for 18 years it is nice to have somebody who comes in and reminds us this is why we do what we do.”