“I don’t preach my values, but I do let the students know where I stand. But I don’t see the classroom as the place to indoctrinate them.”
- Professor David Schlueter
Do you want a wealthy retirement without worrying about money? Welcome to “Retire in Texas”, where you will discover how to enjoy your faith, your family, and your freedom in the state of Texas—and, now, here's your host financial advisor, author, and all-around good Texan, Darryl Lyons.
Darryl: Hey, this is Darryl Lyons. Thanks for tuning in today. You're listening to Retire in Texas, and the show is sponsored by PAX Financial Group, so be sure to visit PAXFinancialGroup.com.
Remember, investment advisory services are found through PAX Financial Group, but this information is not considered legal tax or investment advice, so visit PAXFinancialGroup.com for more information. [01:02.6]
All right, I'm excited today because I guess I could call you professor. I've never called you professor before, but--
David: Or former professor maybe, retired professor.
Darryl: Former Professor David Schlueter is here. You were a professor for how many years?
David: Thirty-nine years at St. Mary's, San Antonio.
Darryl: St. Mary's, 39 years. At the law school only, right?
David: Yes, that's correct.
Darryl: Okay, for those that know me out there, I'm a St Mary's undergraduate and I could not afford to go to law school as much as I wanted to.
David: I'm sorry to hear that.
Darryl: All my buddies went to law school and, I guess, some went to Tech, some went to St. Mary's, good dear friends today. But St Mary's law school, being a professor there for 39 years, you saw a lot of different leadership changes, because I was watching over the years St. Mary's law school's reputation and it ebbed and flowed, and it may just be optics. None of it might have ever mattered. But what did you see over the years? And I know I’ve got more questions about you, but this is just off the cuff. [02:02.8]
Darryl: What did you see about St Mary's? Is it considered a credible law school now or where is it at, in terms of rankings?
David: Yes, I think today it's a very different law school than it was 39 years ago. It was going through some struggles with finances. I think we had a really strong dean at the time, James Castleberry, who felt very strongly about building a very strong, credible law school. We went through several deans, and that's always a potential problem with a job. People will come to me and they say, “I'm having trouble with my boss,” and one of the questions I’ll ask them is, “Does the boss have lifetime tenure or no?” They'll probably rotate out after three years or four years, and I say, “Then hang in there,” and that's what's happened. I think I went through five deans.
Darryl: That's what I was thinking, because there was a season there where there was a little turnover.
David: Yeah, the average tenure of a dean in a United States law school I think is about three years. [03:01.5]
David: But there are obviously some that have really endured, Brad Toben, for example, at Baylor. He's been there over two decades.
David: Which is really unusual, but he has the touch. It's a hard job because you have to keep several constituencies happy. You have to keep the students happy. You have to keep the alumni happy. You have to get along with the faculty, and then you have to work with the university administration.
Darryl: That makes sense.
David: After three to six years, folks are generally ready to move on, even if they like being a dean as an administrator.
Darryl: Yeah, that's kind of about the time you start to figure things out, too.
David: Exactly, exactly.
Darryl: Now let's go back a little bit. Can you tell me a little bit, how did you get into that role as a professor?
David: After law school at Baylor, I had a military commitment, so I went into the Army JAG Corps for what was going to be four years, but I stayed on active duty, and I actually was at the nine year mark when I was assigned to Germany as a trial judge, and at the same time, I got a job offer to work at the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. [04:06.4]
I retired, or I didn't retire. I resigned my active duty commission and went into the Reserves, worked at the court for two years, and by then, I knew that I wanted to teach because my last active duty assignment in the military was teaching at the Army JAG School in Charlottesville, Virginia. I did that for four years.
David: And I started writing books. I started writing articles, and so I knew academia. I believe that's what God's gift to me was, to teach and to write, so the Supreme Court job was really kind of a transition and, in fact, the Chief Justice Burger wanted me to stay at least three years and I told him I was anxious to get into teaching and he said, “Okay, well I’ll let you go after two years,” and I did. We interviewed at a number of law schools in the United States and accepted a job offer here at St. Mary's, and have been here since 1983.
Darryl: I'm going to rewind the clock a little bit and I want to know a little bit about your childhood. [05:03.5]
Darryl: Are you from Texas?
David: No, I'm originally from Iowa. My dad was a Lutheran minister. I was born in Sioux City, Iowa. He took a mission church in Scottsdale, Arizona, back when Scottsdale was a really small Western town.
David: Then we moved back to Iowa, Eastern Iowa, and my folks I think got tired of the snowstorms every winter and he accepted a call to Southeast Texas down in Dickinson, Texas. I moved to Texas when I was a sophomore in high school and that was a great cultural change for me. I moved from meat and potatoes and the food of the Midwest to pinto beans and collard greens, and chicken fried steak, which is still one of my weaknesses.
Darryl: Oh, so good.
David: And I was really homesick the first year. I really missed my friends in Iowa, but I'm now a naturalized Texan and I can't think of any other place I'd rather live.
Darryl: You are a naturalized Texan, as long as I’ve known you. I wouldn't have thought. I always thought you were Texan, and you are. So, growing up, did you have any brothers and sisters? [06:03.8]
David: I do. I'm the oldest brother of three. They're three brothers. My second brother, Dan, is here in San Antonio now and he's an engineer, a retired engineer, went to Gordon-Conwell Seminary. He has a Doctor of Theology, and he's my computer guru, if I need any help.
Darryl: Is that right?
David: My youngest brother, Tom, is still a minister of a non-denominational church up in Arlington, Texas. So, I'm the oldest of three boys.
Darryl: And so, your dad was in ministry.
David: Yes, he was.
Darryl: And your mom, did she work?
David: She did.
Darryl: Outside the home, I’d say.
David: Yeah, she worked outside of home. She was a school secretary and did that for a number of years, and then also worked in and around the church office to help manage things, and she had excellent secretarial skills. She didn’t have a college degree, but had excellent secretarial skills.
Darryl: But that's not very much income for three boys. How did y’all make it?
David: No, it wasn't. They kind of scrimped and saved. We went to a state school, went to A&M where the tuition was lower, and they really sacrificed a lot for all three of us to get college educations, and all three of us have advanced degrees. [07:08.6]
Darryl: Yeah, it's quite remarkable. I didn't see it in that context. I didn't ever really know that. The conversations about money, did he ever teach you or did your mom ever teach you about money?
David: I think they did. I can remember, as a kid in grade school, I would see a neat model at the dime store and I would say, “It's only a dollar and a half.” My dad would pull out his pockets and show that he had no money and said, “I'm broke right now.”
Darryl: Oh, okay. Yeah.
David: We kind of laughed about it, but he wasn't making a lot of money as a minister, but we had excellent child-rearing. My folks instilled in us the love of the Lord and just recognizing that you have to be careful with your money.
Darryl: Did he teach you or your mom as well? Did they teach you about giving?
David: They did. It was very much a part of our growing up. I don't know that they used the word “tithe”, just in the general conversations, but we were given allowances and we were expected to use a portion of that allowance for an offering each Sunday, and so we all were active in the church. [08:08.0]
I know my brother, Dan, and I would get paid by the church to stoke the coal ovens, the furnaces, and we would cut the lawn and shovel the sidewalks. We had newspaper routes. We used our money from the newspaper route to buy our first set of golf clubs from Sears, Roebuck, and I still remember the day. There was a knock at the door and the mailman brought our first set of golf clubs to the door.
Darryl: Yeah, that was the first Amazon delivery for you, huh?
David: It was. Yeah, it was in a small town in Iowa, about 3,000 people. It was a farming community. There was a church on every corner, and so growing up, instilled in me those values of respecting your neighbor, love of family, love of country, serving God.
Darryl: And that's still with you today. I know it is. You went to Texas A&M as an undergraduate? [08:58.5]
David: I did. I went there because I wanted to be an aerospace engineer and work for NASA, and I was taking all the engineering courses and I was taking summer school after my second year, and my roommate came back to the dorm one day and said, “I'm out of engineering.” I said, “What did you go into?” He said he went into English. I said, “Why?” He said, “They're 36 hours of electives, so I can take all of my engineering in science hours and dump them into English and still graduate on time.”
I thought about it. I went home and talked with my parents and when I told my dad I was thinking of doing the same thing, his immediate reaction was, “Dave, I always thought you would make a great teacher,” and my response to him was, “Dad, I'm actually thinking about going to law school.” He said, “That's fine, too. You'll do fine, I'm sure.”
When I was given my professor emeritus award a month ago at the law school, or two months ago, I shared that story and I said, “Isn't it ironic that God works in that way that I ended up being a teacher of the law?” and so my dad had a lot of insight that I would make a good teacher so I was able to take my legal training and help others understand the law. [10:06.4]
Darryl: That's fascinating to me. He did know you.
David: I think so.
Darryl: Yeah, he knew you. So, 39 years as a professor at St. Mary's University and I know you've got a lot of anecdotal stories with students. I mean, you have very successful students that have been through your programs over the years, I'm sure.
David: Yes, I’m really proud of them.
Darryl: I would imagine so, and today, you probably saw recently, there was a law professor having a debate with a congressman. Did you see that recently?
David: No, I didn't see that one.
Darryl: It's everywhere, but it's just a real challenge right now to have professors like you that have values that we still hold dear. What do you tell the next generation of professors or somebody else that wants to be a professor? What do you tell them? What's their responsibility in that classroom? [10:57.0]
David: I take probably a slightly different view than some of my colleagues. I don't know how many folks are aware of it, but most law professors tend to be liberal. It's unusual, I think, to see a law professor who has conservative values, and so I don't preach my values, but I do let the students know where I stand. But I don't see the classroom as a place to indoctrinate them or to shade their views. I try to present both sides.
For example, on the issue of abortion, I used to teach constitutional law and very much pro-life. My wife has a pro-life law firm, a foundation that she provides an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court. I told the students that, but when we actually got to discussing the Supreme Court's decision in Roe v. Wade and some of the others, I said, “I understand some of you are pro-choice and some of you are pro-life, and it's not my job to convince you one way or the other but to simply prepare you to represent your clients ethically and as you see fit.”
I'd usually get pushback from both sides. The pro-choice people would say, “How dare you try to instill your values?” and I said, “I don't think I did that. I let you know where I stand, but I'm not testing you on that and I don't expect you to feed that back to me.” [12:10.7]
So, I would probably tell, and I have mentored younger faculty and I’ve told them. I’ve given them advice on how to make themselves available, how to go with the flow, understand they're not going to know everything, maintain classroom control, and just be as honest as you can with the students about how you feel about issues, but then don't test them on it and, actually, I would say, rule against them or dock their grade because they don't toe the line that you think they should.
Darryl: It's good, good wisdom.
For those that are just tuning in, you're listening to Retire in Texas. My name is Darryl Lyons. We're here with David Schlueter, and he was a professor, longtime faculty, at St. Mary's law school. Happy to know him and his wife for a number of years now.
If you need to speak to a financial advisor at no cost, a free consultation, you have to text the number 74868, and when you text that number, you put in “Texas”, 74868. [13:11.4]
David, you retired just recently and, to you, what was the catalyst to say, Okay, it's time?
David: That's an excellent question, Darryl. I thought about it for probably five years or more, and I would talk with friends and colleagues about what their plans were and what they were considering. Some people were very forthcoming and they would say, “My plan is to do this, this and this, and I'm going to retire as soon as possible.” I have some friends who are still working and teaching, and they say, “I want to wear out and not rust out.”
David: They plan to be teaching until, I guess, the day they die, and I decided I did not want to do that. I started thinking about down the road. I want to be sure that I retire while I'm still, I guess, you could say, at the top of your game, because I’ve watched professors and those in industry and business who just won't give up and they keep hanging in there, and you kind of wonder whether they're really giving the best that they've got. I thought I had a responsibility to keep an eye on that. [14:14.1]
Fortunately, our university has a phased retirement plan, and at the time they initially started it, and I think they've modified it, it used to be five years, and I don't remember the exact percentages, but you had to apply for it a year in advance. I initially decided I wanted to go that route so it would be two years at halftime, so you'd teach for a semester and then you were off for a semester, but they would pay you for that.
David: Then each year that you were on this phased retirement, you would reduce the income and your amount of teaching. But when I started crunching the numbers, I couldn't get access to my pension until I was fully retired, which meant I was going to have to somehow supplement the income. In those years, I was teaching only 25 percent of the time.
Darryl: That makes sense. [15:01.8]
David: And on a 25 percent salary. About two or three years ago, I was talking with the president and the provost and I explained to them what some of my ideas were, and they were very supportive and they said, “Why don't you do a one-year phased retirement?” I said, “What?” They said, “You teach in the fall semester, for example, full time, and in the spring, you're completely off, but you'll receive full pay.”
David: Then you'll be fully retired. I talked with my wife about it. We had a number of conversations. We started talking to the family, talked with other colleagues, and that seemed like the best way to go and so my goal was to finish at 39. I figured this, just retired on May 31, just a couple months ago. My wife said, “Why don't you go till 40? You can tell everybody you did 40.” I said, “No, that’s okay.” I think part of the factoring in was that the longer you do this, I didn't have the energy that I had 20 years ago.
Darryl: Yeah. [16:00.0]
David: I’ve often told people, you'll generally know when it's time. Don't ignore the signs. Don't ignore the signals. Pray about it. God will lead you in the right way. So, I think we made the right decision.
Now, the one thing I did do with the university was that I had a list of things that I’d hoped that they would agree to and they did, for example, to be able to maintain my office. They have research assistants, and so the irony is, Darryl, I'm on the schedule in the fall a month from tomorrow, we start our fall semester, and I’ll be back in the classroom teaching one section of evidence. They need somebody to help.
So, it will keep me in the game, but I won't have all those committee assignments. I won't have the drama of going to faculty meetings and listening to people argue about policies that I'm not interested in. I think it's one way of continuing to use God's gifts of teaching and writing. I have written a number of books and my plan is to continue to keep those books updated. I'll be using one of them in my class, so it's worked out pretty well. [17:02.7]
Now, the other thing is I made these decisions and then, what, just in the last three or four months, the economy has started to go south.
David: I was able to transfer out my pension into some fixed index annuities and I’ve been talking with your folks about what to do with some of that other money. But we're confident God will watch out for us, so I try not to watch the stock market on a daily basis.
Darryl: You've always been a good steward. Your spending is always reasonable and I’ve known you guys. Was Linda [nervous]? I mean, you had dialogue. Was she nervous about any of this?
David: I think so. We're all fans of Dave Ramsey and we learned years ago that most women have a financial gland.
Darryl: Yeah, right. Yeah.
David: When we started talking about it, I think her concern was, how will we be able to make our monthly goals and our budget without cutting way back? And I crunched some numbers, talked with your folks, talked with a couple friends and they said, “No, you're in good shape. Once your pensions come in, you start taking the money out on a monthly basis.” So, I think we're going to go through a season of probably a couple months, where it'll take a while for the budget to kind of settle down. [18:09.7]
Darryl: That's right.
David: A big bill came in today for MasterCard. We had a big plumbing bill and I could kind of sense in our conversation, it was like, that monthly check is not there. My last check was at the end of May. I didn't get a check from three weeks ago.
Darryl: It takes a little while. I’ve seen over the years, it takes a little while just to get your sea legs, so to speak.
Darryl: Then, after a while, you go, “Okay, this is going to work out and I actually like this better.” But it does. Financially, it takes a little while.
David: It does.
Darryl: It's hard for me to ever explain because it's just the plumbing bills. It's hard to explain, but it literally works out. I've seen it thousands of times where people transition into that next phase.
David: That's right.
Darryl: Gosh, it's gone by too fast. I have so much to ask you. What's cool is I'm a St. Mary's law guy. I'm sorry, I'm A&M law guy with a St. Mary's undergrad. [19:00.8]
Darryl: And you're a St. Mary's law guy with an A&M undergrad.
Darryl: I didn't ask you, did you go to law school at St Mary's?
David: No, I went to law school at Baylor.
Darryl: Okay, that's right. Baylor. Baylor. Baylor.
David: I went to A&M, and then I went to Baylor Law School where I met my wife, so she's an attorney as well.
Darryl: Linda is a Baylor …?
David: Baylor Law School grad, right. She was one quarter behind me.
Darryl: Now, both of y'all are well-published.
Darryl: How many now?
David: Boy, I don't know. I think, at one time, I had 12 or 13 books that I'd either authored, co-authored, or edited. She has, I think, two or three books. She's got a two-volume treatise on punitive damages. She's got a book on legal research and writing. She's now on her sixth edition. We've been publishing. We've been married 50 years. We celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary a couple months ago.
David: And so, we've been publishing. I think 1980 was when we started our first publication, so it's like a lifetime investment. Our plan, even in retirement, is to keep those books up, but also to prepare for the transition. [20:06.6]
Most people don't realize that the copyrights are usually held by the publisher so that, for example, if I'm no longer able to keep the book up, the publisher can say, We're going to find another author. We have the copyright and we want to keep it going.
So, I've transitioned to bring in co-authors. I’ve brought my son in on one of my books and I’ve told him, “For the future, you don't have to keep it up, but at least you have the option.”
Darryl: Yeah, that's that royalty income as a part of your retirement plan.
David: It is, and so we try not to count on it because it varies from year to year, depending on whether you do a new addition.
Darryl: Yeah, that's true. Yeah, they do. I would think they do one every year, but they don't.
David: No, there's some books that you do do. It's a soft-cover book, so you might update it every year. I've been working on a couple of those books. But most of them, you do a new hard-cover edition every four to five years, and in the interim years, you do annual supplements. The annual supplements keep you busy, but that is some income each year then. [21:01.3]
Darryl: Then that makes sense. Okay. Then, just as I tie a bow on here, I just want to know, you alluded to your next phase in life. You have a lot. I mean, I don't know your health, but you always have a smile on your face, always have energy. You look great. I'm not patronizing you, but you've had 39 years of academic work and you seem to be still vibrant.
With all that being said, you're going to help out at the university. They're going to need you. I mean, you bring so much experience, they're going to call you all the time, so we know that's going to happen.
David: Sure, sure.
Darryl: But between you going over to the university, is there any nonprofit work or any missionary work that you're going to have?
David: Probably. I wouldn't say missionary work, but we're both active members of Concordia Lutheran Church here in San Antonio, and there are a number of opportunities to lead studies and so I probably will be continuing to do that. We have a Men's Bible Breakfast that meets every Tuesday morning and I’ve done studies in that, usually for five or six weeks at a shot so that you're not doing it full time. But I anticipate doing that and I anticipate being involved in other nonprofit activities. [22:03.3]
Darryl: Yeah, absolutely. People are going to--
David: I hope to travel a little bit.
Darryl: Good, good.
David: The problem with traveling is you have to figure out where the money is going to come from to pay for the airline ticket.
Darryl: That’s true.
David: So, we're going to wait for things to kind of settle down and say, Okay, I think we can make a big trip next year. Yeah, we're already looking at we're going to be going to Hawaii for a couple weeks in December, so that's all been paid for.
David: And I'm counting the days till I can put on my dark glasses and t-shirt and flip flops and just take it easy.
Darryl: It'll be real soon. I'm excited for you.
David: Yeah, we're looking forward to it.
Darryl: I'm really excited for you and Linda. It's so good to have you on the show. It really is.
David: Thank you, Darryl.
David: I'm happy to see you. I'm happy for you. Thank you for being here.
David: We really appreciate it. You've been a valuable friend and we've always appreciated your advice and your counsel.
Darryl: Yeah, thank you. Oh, I almost forgot the last question.
Darryl: What's your favorite salsa?
David: Pace Picante.
Darryl: Pace, okay.
David: Mild. Now, I’ve been indoctrinated. I've been here 39 years. I don’t know if you remember some of the old television commercials with Pace. They used to manufacture Pace in San Antonio. [23:03.3]
Darryl: “Get a rope.”
David: Yeah, “Get a rope.” “That's made in New York City.”
David: Yeah, in fact, my wife and I have this debate. I can probably take sauce a little hotter than she can, but we agree on the medium.
Darryl: On the medium? Okay, all right.
David: On the medium. Pace Picante Sauce, medium.
Darryl: Good, good, good. I've had more than one person tell me Pace. I need to go back to it because it does have a unique flavor.
David: It does.
Darryl: And, yeah, I need to check it out again. Thank you again.
For those that have listened to the end of the show, I appreciate you. Again, if you need to meet with a financial advisor, text 74868 and just put in that text, “Texas”. Remember, you think different when you think long term. Have a great day.
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