#VIDEO/INTERVIEW: Fabienne Patricia Schenk Talks About Living Full-Time in a GMC Motorhome

Fabienne Patricia Schenk and Thomas Jetzer

BY Marco Kathuria—Fabienne Patricia Schenk, co-owner of GREASE 1, LLC, a small engine repair and maintenance shop in East Texas, recounts how she and her husband, Thomas Jetzer, came to own a vintage 1973 GMC Motorhome Canyon Lands RV.

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#Meet The Couple

Before moving to the United States in March 2002, Fabienne Patricia Schenk (FPS) spent many years working for Bosch as Director of Sales for the Blaupunkt division. “We were the first one that released a functioning navigation system, it was called the Travel Pilot”, she said in a recent interview. After being hired as General Manager of an RV sales & rental company in the USA, she and her husband, Thomas Jetzer, moved to Chicago. Thomas is a certified Master Technician for GM and SAAB for cars and trucks.

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A fan of vintage cars and an amateur race car driver herself, FPS was not thinking about buying a RV until one day, while working at Moturis in Chicago, a young man approached her and asked if he could buy 6 shock absorbers to be installed on his motorhome. Intrigued by his request, she followed the young man outside where her eyes fell upon a GMC Motorhome. She was in love.

I called Thomas. You must know that we were no campers. Our camping was Hiltons and Hertz. So I started my homeworks and soon we found one that was in pretty good shape. But it was yellow. Thomas mentioned earlier that all colors were ok for him but the yellow was his least favorite version. 

Fabienne Patricia Schenk

The couple bought their 1973 GMC Motorhome in 2003 in Green Bay, WI area and began the drive home. They didn’t get very far. The water pump died. FPS continues, “So we parked it in front of a local workshop and drove home in our car. My intention was to call in the morning and tell them what happened. To my surprise the former owner called me and asked if we haven’t had any problems driving home. I told him what happened with the water pump. The funny thing was that the shop we broke down at night was the shop he was using, so they concluded it was George’s rig and he needed something so they called him. So we picked it up a couple of weeks later and drove it home, where we started the restoration process.  We did all the work by ourselves, except for the tranny and major engine overhaul we went to Cinnabar.”

When everything was ready we went to Quincy IL in 2004 and spent our first weekend camping, not knowing what we were doing. But we could see it was fun. 

Fabienne Patricia Schenk

Since then they have travelled over 100,000 thousand miles in Maggie with Chili, Camper (2 cats) and Trailer (dog).

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FPS continues, “Can you tell that our business was a KOA campground, which we bought in 2005 and run it until the end of 2021? We used our GMC Motorhome to be our winter home in Texas since our campground in Northern Indiana was closed during the wintertime. During this time we started to do volunteer work in Federal Fish hatcheries. We volunteered for 15 years in SW Texas, in Louisiana and in Northern Arkansas. During the summer time we used the motorhome to go to KOA conventions. We went all over the States.

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Highlights from their adventures include the time of that snowstorm in Feb 2021 when volunteering in Mammoth Spring at the fish hatchery.  It was -2 F and below freezing for two weeks. We camped and had fun. It wasn’t too bad at all and we knew what to do by now.”, she said with a smile.

After we sold our business we became full timers for 1and half year, drove around and visited friends until we found our retirement home in Livingston, Texas. 

Fabienne Patricia Schenk
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Patricia & Thomas currently reside in the great state of Texas where they and their beloved companions, Chili and Oscar, enjoy a semi-retired life enjoying their numerous hobbies, especially flying remote control model planes. “We founded a small business of Grease 1 LLC, a Small Engine Repair service, because we were in need of it. So it keeps us busy enough, but by no means is it a second career.”, said Patricia before taking Oscar’s lead and walking towards the setting sun.

Built by General Motors using automobile assembly techniques, 12,921 GMC motorhomes were produced from model years 1973 to 1978. Over 7,000 are currently listed at the GMCMI.com international registry. Estimates suggest that at least 8,000 to 9,000 of the original production run are still in operating condition.

Click here to join GMCMI to unlock access to more information, profiles, technical tips…and much, much more!

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Digital versions of the magazine can be found in the “Members Only” section of the GMCMI.com website. Visit the website to read a sample copy of GMC Vintage RVing Magazine.

#GMC Motorhomes International

GMC Motorhomes International is an organization dedicated to promoting the legacy, enjoyment and use of GMC Motorhomes. Our goal is to provide fellowship and technical information through continuous improvement of communications and conventions. Visit the GMCMI website to find out more.

History of the GMC Motorhome

Source: GMCMI.com

#GMC Regional Chapters – FMCA Chapters

Local GMC Motorhome Chapters

GMC Cascaders
Oregon, Washington, Idaho, British Columbia & Alberta (Canada)
Website: www.gmc-cascaders.com 
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GMCCascaders/

GMC Classics
Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas
Website: www.gmcclassics.com
Facebook (closed group): www.facebook.com/groups/gmcclassicsclub/

GMC Colonial Travelers
New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland & SE New York
Website: www.gmccolonial.com

GMC Dixielanders
Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee and the Western Carolinas
Website: www.gmcdixielanders.org
Facebook: www.facebook.com/GMC-Dixielanders-610910142357001/?fref=ts
Facebook (closed group): www.facebook.com/groups/751435414991402/

GMC Eastern States
The Mississippi River and east in the United States and Canada
Website: www.gmceast.com

GMC Flatlanders
Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Nebraska, Iowa, and Colorado
Randy Van Winkle | 417-429-5925
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/884368598352256/

GMC Forty-Niners
Northern California & Northwest Nevada
Club Email: [email protected]

GMC Great Lakers
All States & Canada Provinces touching the Great Lakes
Website: www.gmcgreatlakers.org
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/182402062678966/

GMC Greater Midwest Classics
Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Manitoba and Ontario
Website: www.gmcmidwestclassics.org

GMC Heritage Cruisers
Covering Parts of Ontario, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, & West Virginia
Website: www.gmcheritagecruisers.com

GMC Mountainaires
500 mile radius of Denver, CO
Website: www.gmc-mountainaires.org
Facebook: www.facebook.com/GMCMountainaires/

GMC Nor’easters
Northeastern portion of the United States and neighboring Canadian provinces
Website: www.gmcnoreasters.org

GMC Pacific Cruisers
Southern California (Los Angeles to San Ysidro)
Website: www.gmcpc.org
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/452658788228404/

GMC Saguaro Jetset
Website: www.gmcsj.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/gmcsj/

GMC 6 Wheelers
Illinois and surrounding states
Affiliations required for membership: none
Email:  [email protected]
Website:  http://www.gmc6wheelers.com
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/gmc6wheelers

GMC Sunshine Statesmen
Website: www.gmcss.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GMC-Sunshine-Statesmen-703965912957918/

GMC Tidewater Crabs
Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia & District of Columbia
Club Email: [email protected]
Closed Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/141736789738596/

GMC Western States
Mainly drawn from the 11 western states and 3 western provinces of Canada.
Website: www.gmcws.org
Facebook: www.facebook.com/GMC-Western-States-426459820808296/?fref=nf

Other GMC Groups

Aussie Classic GMC Motorhomes
Gail Bennett | Coordinator | [email protected]

GMC Motorhome Tulsa Lunch Bunch
Join us for lunch and friendship. Every first Friday of the month. Golden Corral 71st and Mingo, Tulsa, Oklahoma. Newcomers welcome!
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GMC-Motorhome-Tulsa-753600574784610/

#Watch More

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