The supper club in Southgate, Ky., had been a casino in northern Kentucky's wide-open gambling days, which ended in the early 1960s.
Schilling and his three sons acquired the building and opened it in 1971 as a night spot that billed big-name entertainers.
On May 28, 1977, fire erupted, killing patrons who had come to see singer John Davidson. Nothing has been built on the hilltop site since.
The state fire marshal's office investigation revealed that there were not enough fire exits to safely evacuate patrons when the building was at full capacity.
Investigations also revealed problems with electrical wiring. Lawsuits stemming from the fire set precedents in class-action law.
No one was ever indicted for any crimes related to the fire following a grand-jury investigation. Civil suits against the owners were settled out of court in 1980.
In a 1997 interview with The Cincinnati Enquirer, Schilling rejected any suggestion he shared responsibility for the tragedy.
"To blame?" he said. "No sir. That was unfair. That was a low shot."
As for accusations that cost-cutting during construction and improperly installed wiring contributed to the disaster, Schilling said, "That's not so. It never was so."
Funeral arrangements were incomplete.
The E.W. Scripps Company
Findlay Market is hosting an opening fundraising event at Wednesday to help restore the bell at Findlay Market.