Tuesday night I stopped at Buffalo Wild Wings to pick up some wings since they have their buy one, get one free promotion. For some reason, the restaurant couldn’t take online orders and they didn’t answer their phone.
I had to go order in person and sat watching basketball while waiting. I opened the Facebook app on my phone to see what was going on. And I didn’t have to scroll far to see tragic news.
Terry Schilling, executive director of the American Principles Project (the ‘NRA’ for the family), announced his father had died.
One year ago Bobby Schilling was running for Congress in Iowa’s Second District. Today, he’s gone.
And the photo that Terry shared was a photo of the family. The Schilling family is a large family — a truly American family. Bobby was a father to 10 children.
I was able to get to know Bobby fairly well during his congressional campaign. I interviewed him often. In reality, we probably talked about life and family just as much — if not a little more — than we did politics.
Full disclosure, as a journalist, I’m skeptical of people. One of my favorite college professors repeatedly told us that if our mom told us she loved us, we need to check it out. There’s a healthy skepticism required in journalism.
And, since I’m a conservative, I’m even more skeptical — especially of “Republicans” from Illinois.
Bobby had served in Congress previously while living across the river in the Land of Lincoln. So when I heard about a “Republican” from Illinois running for Congress in Iowa’s Second District, I thought, ‘OK, yeah, sure. Here we go.’
It didn’t take long, though, until I figured out Bobby Schilling was the real deal.
My guess is my first exchange with Bobby was on the congressional survey we wanted all Republicans running to answer.
CONGRESSIONAL SURVEY: Schilling is pro-God, pro-Life, pro-Gun
One of the questions we asked was what one thing he’d most like to accomplish in Congress. Here is what he said:
I would like to help Congress pass the Heartbeat bill — a bill that bans abortion after a heartbeat can be detected at six weeks gestation. This, to me, is of utmost importance. The fact that almost a million abortions a year take place in this country is a horrific tragedy, and it’s one that I lose a lot of sleep over.
Running in the moderate Second District, I was taken aback when Schilling called out the Equality Act.
“Sadly, progressives are seeking to curb religious liberty — the so-called ‘Equality Act’ would specifically outlaw (religious liberty) in favor of transgender rights — and that’s something we have to fight against.”
Boom. Right then there I was sold. From everything I had heard about the Second District, I knew he wasn’t saying this stuff because it was politically easy, but because he believed it with all his heart.
Bobby called on political and spiritual leaders across America to open churches back up last June. Here’s an excerpt:
“America needs church. That’s critical. But we also need intact families. The effort by the progressive left to destroy the family in this country has gone on for too long, and the consequences are now coming home to roost.”
He vowed to fight for Iowans and their children and the innocence of those children when it comes to radical sex education and gender activists.
“I don’t care what elites call me,” he said. “I’m not going to back down.”
Rick Santorum and Jim Jordan endorsed Bobby in his race. Santorum said Bobby has always been an unapologetic defender of the unborn. He has always been a believer in America First and Family First.
Then, in late May, just weeks before the GOP primary, Schilling released a statement that he had cancer. Even in that statement, Schilling was positive and upbeat.
During an interview on my podcast, Bobby told me he and his wife Christie had been married going on 34 years. With 10 kids and 13 grandkids, he said people have no doubt he’s pro-life.
Born and raised in Rock Island, Ill., Bobby eventually moved to Iowa due to Illinois taxes. But it was a natural fit. Iowa was where Bobby’s roots were, he said.
He made it clear that he and his family could’ve relocated to anywhere in the United States, but they choose Iowa. He was looking forward to spending good, quality time with his family and his grandkids on what he and Christie called their “little slice of heaven.”
“We overlook the mighty Mississippi River and we can look over into Illinois where we used to live and feel like we’re right at home,” he said.
He often used a photo of his large family pictured on that little slice of heaven. I asked if it was a 16×20 considering 10 kids aren’t fitting on an old 8.5×11.
“It’s a canvas that we put up on the wall and it actually takes up a pretty good chunk,” he said.
“God has been very, very good to us as a family. We’re truly blessed. Christie and I have physically built our last two homes together and we built big houses. The first one was to hold 10 kids and the one in LeClaire here holds five.”
We asked Bobby in that congressional survey what excited him most about possibly representing Iowa in Congress.
“The people of this great state are incredible. That’s been my favorite part of this campaign so far — meeting so many of these hard-working heroes. It would be an honor to serve them in Congress and be the People’s Representative,” he said.
The Bible tells us we’ll know them by their fruits.
Just knowing what I know about Terry tells me all I need to know about the job Bobby and Christie did raising their all-American family.
I will always regret never meeting Bobby Schilling in person. But I’ll be eternally grateful for the many conversations, calls and texts we shared over the last year and a half or so.
It honestly hurts my heart to know that at this time last year he was an enthusiastic, positive, upbeat conservative Christian running to fight for our country and our kids and now he is gone.
And as much as it pains me to think of Bobby’s family, I also know that he has gone from “a little slice of heaven” to enjoying the whole pie.
As I pause and reflect on my interactions with Bobby, I think of the famous passage from 2 Timothy:
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”
Well done Bobby Schilling. May you rest in peace.