Obituaries

Evan Schumacher, 46; Newton entrepreneur built four startups

Evan Schumacher ran the Boston Marathon in 2008, raising money for the Michael J. Fox Foundation.

Evan Schumacher ran the Boston Marathon in 2008, raising money for the Michael J. Fox Foundation.

An entrepreneur who built and sold four high-tech companies in the past 17 years, Evan Schumacher “was having a ball” riding the wave of the dot.com boom in the late 1990s, said venture capitalist Izhar Armony, who invested in Mr. Schumacher’s first startup, Celarix, and then became a close friend.

“I fell in love with the idea and with him at our first meeting,” Armony said. “I was so impressed by his charisma, his unstoppable drive, and most of all his ability to attract great people . . . and lead them to do things they thought might not be possible — with optimism, with sheer drive, and with force of personality.”

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When the dot.com bubble burst at the beginning of the 2000s, Armony and the rest of the Celarix board replaced Mr. Schumacher as chief executive of the global logistics company with a seasoned executive, a decision that failed within months.

So the board asked Mr. Schumacher to return as chief executive “to save the company from collapsing,” Armony said. “Evan stepped in with great optimism . . . and made people all around him — employees, board members, customers, investors — believe again.”

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Mr. Schumacher died in his Newton home Nov. 29 from a rare form of bile duct cancer that was diagnosed three weeks after his twin daughters were born in spring 2014. He was 46.

A visit to a doctor because of a recurring stomachache led to the diagnosis of a stage 4 tumor, said his younger brother David of Newton, who called Mr. Schumacher a “man of action.”

“He was a perfectly healthy 44-year-old, so it was like getting hit by a bolt of lightning,” said David, who is an assistant US attorney in Boston. “But he moved quickly into Evan mode, which meant throwing everything he had at it. He worked his global network of contacts. He treated the disease the same way he’d treated all his new businesses.”

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While searching for possible cures, Mr. Schumacher continued working for Echo Logistics in Chicago, the company that had acquired his fourth startup, Open Mile.

“He was determined to keep working for the sake of his family,” said his friend Adam Patti, founder and chief executive of the asset management firm IndexIQ.

All the while, Patti said, Mr. Schumacher fought cancer “like nobody’s business. And he never complained ever. He was the guy with the plan, same as always. He kept saying, ‘I’m going to fix this.’ His biggest concern was for his wife and kids.”

Through his research, Mr. Schumacher located and participated in a clinical trial. As a result, his brother said, the tumor was shrinking by last spring. But by then the cancer had spread to his brain, then his spine. Soon he could no longer walk, and doctors said there was nothing more they could do.

“He always had such a positive, can-do attitude,” his brother said. “He kept thinking he was going to get better, right until the end.”

Evan Stuart Schumacher was born in Toledo, Ohio, to Gerald Schumacher and the former Florence Steinberg, who now live in Wellesley.

When Mr. Schumacher was 9, his family moved to Needham, where he graduated from Needham High School. He received a bachelor’s degree from Northeastern University in 1992 and worked for companies including LA Gear and Stride Rite before graduating with a master’s in business administration from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University in Illinois in 1998. That same year he founded Celarix, launching his career as an entrepreneur with a specialty in online logistics and delivery.

After selling Celarix, Mr. Schumacher built Everypoint in 2004, which delivered mobile applications before the advent of smartphones.

His next venture, Going.com, was a Boston-based social networking site that allowed users to track popular destinations in the city and who was at them.

In 2008 he was leading a Going.com meeting when he accessed the Internet dating site JDate to show an example of how people were connecting online. By chance he landed on the profile of Suzanne Grandberg, a 27-year-old dog groomer who had just returned home to Newton after breaking up with a boyfriend in Miami.

“So the first time he ever saw me, I was on a huge screen in a conference room,” said Suzanne, whom he married two years later. The pair exchanged messages, mainly about music, for about a month before he asked her on a date.

“We had a connection right away,” she said. “Evan was such a larger-than-life person. He had a gift for making you believe in yourself. That was something he did for everybody, not just me.”

David Schumacher said that during Shiva, he was approached by many people who described how his brother had changed their lives for the better, mainly by convincing them to aim higher and have more faith in their potential.

“Evan genuinely believed in people,” David said. “He was totally selfless; he went deep. He was always interested in people and how he could help them.”

When their father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, “my brother sprang into action,” David said. Although Mr. Schumacher had never been a runner, he trained for and ran the Boston Marathon in 2008, raising money for the Michael J. Fox Foundation in his father’s honor.

Mr. Schumacher enjoyed traveling, playing golf, and spending time with friends and family. After he died, his wife said, she found hundreds of photos and videos on his phone of him and their 3-year-old son, Jacob.

Mr. Schumacher phoned his parents every day, even while traveling in rural China, his mother said.

A service has been held for Mr. Schumacher, who in addition to his wife, son, 1-year-old twin daughters Sophia and Sari, parents, and brother leaves another brother, Paul of Culver City, Calif., and a sister, Winter Bonnin of Laguna Beach, Calif.

Patti, who met Mr. Schumacher at Northwestern, said that while his friend’s dynamic spirit and high energy are fairly common among entrepreneurs, Mr. Schumacher was unique because his drive was balanced by an unusual capacity for kindness.

“On the one hand, he was the most charismatic leader,” Patti said. “At the same time, he was the nicest, most loving guy you ever met, just the sunniest, happiest, most supportive person. Every time he walked into a room, there was laughter.”

Kathleen McKenna can be reached at kmck66@verizon.net.
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