Cover photo for John Albert Shoman's Obituary

John Albert Shoman

July 29, 1930 — April 16, 2024

Little Rock

John Albert Shoman

John Albert Shoman passed into eternal rest on the morning of April 16, 2024. He was 93. John was the youngest of four children born to Charles and Lillian Eva Shoman (nee’ Beedle) in Neenah, Wisconsin. John and Lilah Leone Levezow married in 1952 and they were beloved life partners until her death in 2023. More than 70 years of marriage brought them four children and two grandchildren. Early challenges shaped their relationship and their family. They attributed their life-long devotion to determination, communication, good humor, and kindness. Together they enjoyed dancing, gardening, hiking, camping, and finding new interests to share. John supported Lilah in her pursuit of higher education, cheering at her baccalaureate commencement when she was 48. He encouraged her to develop her talent and love of painting in oils and acrylics, and she created a portfolio spanning more than 40 years. 

The couple lived in their native Wisconsin, Michigan, New York, and Arizona. They traveled throughout the U.S., in Canada, in Mexico and in Europe. John carried a Golden Age Passport to the National Parks system, symbolizing his life-long love of the Parks, and the value of preserving the natural world, its creatures, and wonders. He passed these values along to his children and grandchildren. The family spent many summers camping, canoeing, hiking, houseboating on Lake Powell, and touring national historic sites.

John greatly enjoyed sailing, ice boating, and skate sailing on Lake Winnebago. He spent much of his youth on the Lake in these endeavors. His father invited John for a bike ride one Saturday, and they rode the circumference of the Lake, lunching in Fond du Lac, arriving home for dinner. On single-speed bikes with balloon tires! No spandex, electronic shifters, or fancy shoes!

John encouraged his family to pursue education, and to enjoy and preserve the natural world. He set the example: riding bicycles, fishing, canoeing, sailing, walking on stilts, and flying kites were just a few endeavors he shared with his kids and grandkids. He built a skate sail and coached his kids to fly like the wind across frozen water. John and Lilah believed travel is educational:  Washington, D.C., Gettysburg, Boston, the museums of Chicago and NYC were all arenas for life-long-learning. John also took advantage of I.B.M. employee outings and benefits, taking the family for a season of downhill skiing in upstate New York, and attending the annual Holiday shows in NYC. 

He and Lilah took many trips to the Grand Canyon, visiting on foot, mule, by river raft, and hiking to Phantom Ranch. North Rim, South Rim, no matter. The Big Hole in the Ground was a destination always worth the journey, one that filled John with awe and reverence for his Creator. 

John attended public schools in Neenah, WI lettering in basketball and graduating in 1948. He was a member of the Boy’s Brigade in the 1940s. With his father, he worked in their Victory Garden and began his life-long enjoyment of watching things grow and eating home-grown vegetables. He was a life-long Green Bay Packers fan and often wore a Wisconsin Badger mascot sweatshirt celebrating the 1994 Rose Bowl appearance.

John earned his bachelor’s degree in 1953 from what was then called Wisconsin State College Oshkosh. For three years he taught high school general science, chemistry, physics, algebra and a little “trig.” He enjoyed teaching: even in these serious subjects there was always some way to connect with students and discover with them the nature of sciences and find some humor to share. Yet supporting a growing family required greater income.

After studying at the Institute of Paper Chemistry, John was recruited by International Business Machines (I.B.M.) where he worked for thirty years. He began in research and new product development testing and formulating paper stock used in computer punch cards. He shifted to manufacturing engineering, using scanning electron microscopy to analyze computer chips and develop quality control techniques. Eventually, working closely with front-line employees, John wrote computer code supporting internal product manufacturing. Using his problem-solving skills to create useful and practical programs earned him the respect of his colleagues and management team. He had deep satisfaction in his work.

Throughout his life, John was a helper. He was treasurer for the local Girl Scout council, a volunteer during work weekends at scout camps, and prolific gardener providing fresh vegetables to neighbors in need and local food banks. He was board chairman for a non-profit retirement home sponsored through his church. He and Lilah helped family members and strangers, serving with little hesitation when they saw a practical solution to a human need.

In retirement, John continued to learn new things and explore new technologies. He shifted from the PC to the Mac computer environment and developed a love for digital photography. He underwent a cochlear implant to attempt to improve his hearing, when he was 89. He sought out magnification and lighting technologies to help him continue to read. PBS and local news were nightly viewing. After he began hospice care at home, he bought a battery powered scooter to help with his mobility even as COPD took his stamina. He was grateful for the natural surroundings at his apartment home, and he was able to enjoy springtime at Wye Mountain and Garvan Woodland Gardens. 

John reminds you now: Smile occasionally. At least a few times a day unclench your jaw. 

You can’t control the world. Just start with yourself.

Remember, not every day is good but find good things in every day. Life really is too short. 

All his life John had a dry, subtle, intelligent humor. His jokes were not at others’ expense (though admittedly he could be mean and very sarcastic). He kept his humor, his gratitude, and his compassion to the very end. 

He offers these words from Linda Ellis’s poem, The Dash:

If we could just slow down enough

to consider what's true and real,

and always try to understand

the way other people feel 

And be less quick to anger

and show appreciation more,

and love the people in our lives

like we've never loved before. 

If we treat each other with respect

and more often wear a smile,

remembering this special dash

might only last a little while.

Linda is referring to the “dash” between your dates of birth and death on your grave marker. What you do with your time is, in large part, up to you. John tried to live well. Now it’s up to you.

John’s parents Charles and Lillian, siblings Chuck, Mary and Allie, wife Lilah, and daughter Sara pre-deceased him. He is remembered with deep love, respect and affection by his children: Martha of Alamosa, CO; Scott of Plymouth, NH; and Laura and Kevin Riedinger of Shannon Hills, AR; and by his grandchildren Brianna Maloney, of Santa Monica, CA; and John Maloney, of Arcadia, CA; by special family members Patricia Maloney Schwarz, Karen Schwarz Muehlberger, and Dawn MacKechnie; and by friends Lucy Smith and Rev. Dustin Freeman.

The family thanks the gentle and professional care of those who helped John and Lilah living independently at Good Shepherd Retirement Community, particularly Matilda, the kind staff in the Kitchen who took such care of them, and John’s angels Lisa, Lori, Lucielle, and Chaplain Aubrey. Thanks also to Hospice Home Care, and its Comfort Care Center on South Bowman Road: John’s in-home nurse Michelle, the DME team for home delivery of oxygen tanks, social worker Cynthia, Chaplain Reese, and comfort care center nurses Summer, Julie, Ashley, Fallon, Cheryl, and the team who provided wonderful care.

A private cremation will be held at Smith Family Funeral Home in Little Rock on Monday, April 22, 2024. John and Lilah will be interred at St. Andrew’s Anglican Church Memorial Garden, in Little Rock. 

In lieu of flowers, the family invites you to donate to local or special conservation organizations to preserve and protect the earth for present and future families. Consider the Grand Canyon Conservancy, the official philanthropic and collaborative partner of Grand Canyon National Park.

As a genealogy note: John Shoman’s paternal grandfather was Heinrich (Henry) Schomann, perhaps an adopted son of Frederick “Fritz” Schomann. They lived in Nebraska, having immigrated from Mecklenburg-Schwerin, Germany in the 1880s. Henry married Wilhelmine “Minnie” Kruse in Kearney, NE in 1880. Charles and four brothers (William, Chris, Fritz, and Henry) were born in Nebraska. After Henry, Sr., died in 1892 near Walsenburg, CO, Minnie, brought the five boys to Neenah. The family name appears in various documents as Schumann, Schomann, Schoman, and, on Henry and Minnie’s marriage license, Shoman.

 

 

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