When I was in the 7th grade I was introduced to history by a man with a booming voice and a sharp, sarcastic yet mirthful sense of humor. The subject was world history, and John Schramel was the teacher. Little did he or I know that the seeds for a lifelong love of history would be planted in that pudgy 7th grader because of the way he taught.
John was also the high school baseball coach (our school was grades 7-12). Given that baseball was in my blood, I bugged John to let me be the team manager – carry equipment, throw batting practice, keep score, whatever. And then I played for him. As coaches go, he was a pleasure. Patient, kind, enthusiastic, he loved baseball and he loved us. We weren’t the best team every year, but that didn’t really matter. He was there for us.
And then, several years later, John had retired from teaching to become the county supervisor for his district, and I had the opportunity to work with him in my capacity as an economic development professional. We had the opportunity to work together on many projects and issues – and I continued to learn invaluable lessons from him.
After moving away from the area I lost touch with John, but I thought of him often. And so when I recently learned of his passing, a part of my heart went silent.
In so many ways he was one of the people who helped to shape my life, and the lives of so many others. He taught for 27 years, and he lived his values for all to see his entire life. The lessons I learned from him will always be front-of-mind, but the example he set will reside prominently in my heart.
Goodbye, my captain. You are appreciated, You are respected. Most importantly, you are loved.