Kirk Charles Schreil, an audio engineer responsible for the sound in thousands of concerts, theater performances, trade shows, corporate conferences, presidential receptions and other special events around the Bay Area for over 35 years, passed away at his post on Saturday, April 15, 2017, at the Palace of Fine Arts Theatre in San Francisco, CA. He was 60.
“Kirky” was an old soul and true wizard of sound mixing and recording, known as much for a deep and cerebral grasp of his craft as his jolly witticisms and blithe demeanor. Loved ones and acquaintances alike long praised his genuine warmth and spirited spontaneity. When he wasn’t recording ocean waves at San Francisco’s Fort Point or taking in live music, he’d be chasing his passion for golf, fine wines and hoppy brews. Or, he’d be cooking up something comforting and delicious. An especially treasured quality was his mirthful humor, often rife with existential musing—not to mention an occasional political tirade against the man. He’d form quick bonds with everyone and anyone; he was known to sit and chat with homeless individuals to grocery cashiers to those with whom he rubbed shoulders at a bar.
He worked across the San Francisco Bay Area at such venues as the San Francisco Symphony, the Palace of Fine Arts Theatre, Stern Grove, and the Moscone Center as a member of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Moving Picture Technicians, Artists and Allied Crafts (I.A.T.S.E) Local Union 16. “The King and I,” “Aladdin,” and Super Bowl 50 numbered among his most recent gigs. His union brothers and sisters described, “There are hundreds of lives touched by Kirky. We loved him and he will always be remembered with a laugh.”
Born on July 15, 1956 to Charles Oscar Schreil and Olga Batas Schreil in Burlingame, California, Kirk grew up alongside his younger brother Chris in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and later in the California towns San Carlos, and Novato. A gregarious and hyperactive child, Kirk naturally excelled in sports. He began gymnastics around age 5 in Milwaukee and transitioned to diving as a teenager, at Clyde Devine’s Swim School in San Carlos, where he trained with Olympic champion Greg Louganis. He would go on to be an All-American college diver at Santa Rosa Junior College. He and Chris were also on the wrestling team at San Carlos High School and later at San Marin High School in Novato. Later on, finding a love for the life of the “sound guy,” he earned a Bachelor’s of Arts in Broadcast and Electronic Communication Arts with a certificate in music/recording industry from San Francisco State University. At the start of his career, he was an assistant professor of music and recording at San Francisco State and the City College of San Francisco. He worked at several recording studios around the Bay Area before joining the union in 1998.
His legacy, however, shines brightest in his watertight bonds with friends and family. He is survived by one son, Matthew, one daughter, Emma, his father and stepmother, Donna, brother, Chris, three grandchildren (with twins on the way), and his fiancée, Julie.
A memorial will be held at the home of Chris and Mindy Schreil on Saturday, April 22, 2017—Earth Day. Bring honest, humorous tales of Kirk and an appetite. Colorful dress—festival T-shirts, bold prints and casual beach wear—is heartily encouraged. As Kirk would say, “It’s a beautiful thing.”
Please feel free to leave condolences, anecdotes, tall tales or musings to honor Kirk here.
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