• Bill Schultz, pictured here with the legendary Dionne Warwick, worked for singers Phyllis Hyman and Jane Olivor. Courtesy photo.

Obituary: William J. Schultz

By |2020-12-01T14:03:25-05:00December 1st, 2020|Michigan, News|

June 28, 1962 – Nov. 30, 2020

William J. Schultz, philanthropist and personal assistant to the stars, suffered a massive stroke and died a week later. He was 58.

Schultz, known to friends as Bill, was born and raised in Grosse Pointe. He was an only child whose mother would often escort him to plays and concerts from a young age. His love of music would cause him to consider becoming a radio DJ. Instead, after graduating from Grosse Pointe High School, Schultz went on to become a travel agent.

It was serendipitous when Schultz’s love of music and his passion for travel collided head-on. Schultz was befriended by rhythm and blues singer and Broadway star Phyllis Hyman in the early ’80s. Soon after, she brought him on as her travel manager. Schultz began traveling to Hyman’s shows as frequently as he could. Noticing he was always around and always helping, Hyman made Schultz a part of her road crew and he became a personal assistant and confidante to the singer.

“He was such a giving and selfless person and was so even that she knew she could really rely on him,” said Martha David, Hyman’s companion and another of her assistants. “He could put aside his own needs and really help her and take care of her and she knew that. He helped her as an assistant, but he also helped her as a friend. She could call him up and he would be there in person or on the phone for her to talk to. He was caring, sympathetic and supportive, but he wasn’t afraid to offer his opinion either.”

Schultz worked for Phyllis for about a decade, during which time he saw both the highs and lows of the diva’s life and career. He was there when she got engaged and had her first number-one record and there through suicide attempts and heartbreak as Hyman grappled with bipolar disorder and addiction. Hyman finally succeeded in taking her own life and Schultz was one of three of her aides who discovered her on that fateful June day in 1995. Schultz frantically searched for a pulse while others called for an ambulance.

After losing Hyman, Schultz worked for a time for singer Jane Olivor. Then he discovered eBay. Schultz began selling rare music on the site and soon he was making a handsome annual income doing it. A philanthropist, Schultz’s charitable efforts allowed him to hang out with the likes of comedian Kathy Griffin and to visit the sets and hang out with the casts of the television shows “Ugly Betty” and Tyler Perry’s “The Have and the Have Nots.”

Schultz continued to travel, including regularly to Las Vegas and New York for shows. He followed ’60s-singer Petula Clark on most of her concert dates around the country and frequently saw new and longtime favorite singers in concert. He never got tired of seeing his favorites. For example, Schultz saw Diana Ross more than 100 times throughout his life.

“I’ll never forget the day I met Bill at a Diana Ross concert and he told me we lived in the same neighborhood and should get together,” said Joe Kort, a longtime friend of Schultz’s. “That began a really nice friendship and lots of concerts in the front row that I’ll never forget. He was a contemporary who loved all the same recording artists that I did and gave me a place to talk about it all and see them. He always knew more than me and I was always amazed at how much knowledge and information he possessed.”

With the onset of COVID-19, Schultz, like most, kept mostly to home for much of the year. He continued to sell on eBay however and he purchased an elliptical machine to substitute for the trips he had frequently made to the gym. On Nov. 20, Schultz was not feeling well and went to the hospital. There he suffered a series of strokes that left him comatose. Finally, after being taken off all life-prolonging equipment, Schultz died peacefully.

There are no funeral arrangements for Schultz at this time.

About the Author:

Jason A. Michael
Jason A. Michael earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Wayne State University before joining Between The Lines as a contributing writer in 1999. Jason has received both the Spirit of Detroit Award (presented by the Detroit City Council) and the Media Award from the Community Pride Banquet & Awards Ceremony for his writing and activism. Jason is also an Essence magazine bestselling author having written the authorized biography "Strength Of A Woman: The Phyllis Hyman Story," which he released on his own JAM Books imprint.