Bob Schack’s Louisville apartment is bathed in the bright colors of spring tulips. They’re in vases and on tables everywhere, and these tulips never wilt or lose their colors. You have to look close — very close — to tell that the flowers are actually folded pieces of colored paper. Despite having been diagnosed with Parkinson’s on Sept. 29, 2009 (his 54th birthday), Bob’s hands are steady when he’s making intricate folds in the paper.
Bob first became interested in Origami, the Japanese art of paper folding, when he and his son, Ned, attended a presentation in Cincinnati 20 years ago. Then senior creative director for an advertising agency there, Bob used his artistic skills to provide direction for a number of Procter & Gamble clients, including Crest, Ivory, Pringles, and Aleve, among others. Off-the-clock and for his own pleasure, Bob painted portraits in the vein of Norman Rockwell and Georgia O’Keefe.
Parkinson’s may have left Bob with hand tremors and cost him a design career at an early age, but he finds relief and fulfillment today with Origami. He makes a new tulip every morning for his wife, Missy. Along with Ned, they have two other adult children, Martin and Nora.
“When I got my PD diagnosis,” Bob says, “it was evident that my motor skills were lessening and that I needed an exercise that I would enjoy.” It was Missy who first suggested the Origami — and that’s why she receives a daily tulip.
A part of Bob’s agency days involved making presentations to clients. It’s been five years since he’s done anything like that, but now he’s ready to step out and demonstrate his art, this time to fellow Parkinson’s patients in the Movers & Shakers men’s group in April. “I found the men’s group last year and it has been great to socialize with other men in the same situation as me. I hope that showing them what I’ve been able to do — to put this disease on the table for awhile and accomplish something with my hands — I hope they can find something that can help them, too,” Bob says.