Obituary of Gerald Martin Schueman
Gerald “Gerry” Martin Schueman, age 83, of McLean, VA, passed away peacefully on Wednesday, July 3, 2019 at home with his wife and daughter at his side after a very sudden cancer diagnosis. A memorial service will be held in October 2019. Internment in the Columbarium with military funeral honors will be conducted at Arlington National Cemetery in the fall.
Gerry was born in Blue Island, Illinois, to Martin August Schueman and Gertrude Charlotte Bartels on May 27, 1936. He graduated from Blue Island Community High School in 1954. He completed a BS degree in Electrical Engineering at the University of Washington in Seattle, as part of the Naval Enlisted Scientific Education Program (NESEP).
Following graduation, he was commissioned Ensign, US Navy in 1964 upon completing the US Naval Officer Candidate School, Class 504, Newport, RI. He served in Vietnam on USS Carpenter (DD-825) 1966-1967 and USS Halsey (DLG-23) 1968 for a total of three cruises. He served as Electronic Material Officer, as Missile Fire Control Officer, and Officer of the Deck with CINCPACFLT Citation. He received an Enlisted Good Conduct Medal, a National Defense Service Medal, a Vietnam Service Medal with three bronze stars and a Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal with Device. After 12 years of military service, he was honorably discharged in 1969.
He joined IBM in 1969 in Los Angeles and transferred with IBM to many cities: Boulder, CO; Morris Plains, NJ; Wayland, MA; and Gaithersburg, MD, before electing early retirement in 1989 at the age of 53. While at IBM in the 1970s, he worked on the development of Navstar GPS, a satellite-based radio-navigation system owned by the US government and operated by the US Air Force, which resulted in today’s Global Positioning System (GPS). This satellite system became an essential part of operations for Desert Storm military movements.
His life’s fulfillment was achieved during his 30 years of retirement. He was actively involved in volunteer work throughout the greater metro Washington, DC area.
Gerry found time to volunteer in so many ways! It started long before retirement. Way back in his Navy days, he was Recreation Officer on Vietnam cruises. That carried over to IBM where he organized sports teams and banquets. His volleyball team even won a trophy. His many younger work friends often joined Margaret, Angela, and Greg water skiing. Gerry was proud of his ability to ski on one ski! What fun! Later in retirement, he eagerly volunteered. Once when Margaret got an email asking her to be an extra on “Veep,” the TV show, Gerry also jumped at the chance, to his delight! (Season 2, Episode 5, “Helsinki” aired 12 May 2013). He, as a volunteer at the Kennedy Center, had his picture in the July 2019 Friend's newsletter along with a quote. He had volunteered on May 29th from 11:00 pm to 2:00 am for a special video shoot, which was exciting for the volunteers who moved about the Kennedy Center carrying lights!
For many years, he took responsibility for maintaining the trail along the portion of the Pimmit Run creek in McLean from Great Falls St. to Westmoreland St. Along the trail, he helped Eagle Scout candidates complete their badge requirements by helping them to build bridges and to improve the walking path. He gave hours of his time and knowledge to others.
Gerry was an active member of Drott Lodge. He liked the challenge of selling Imported Foods at Drott's annual bazaar, HoS (House of Sweden) SWEA bazaar, and even at the Viking Festival in Manassas. In addition, he was a knowledgeable resource for all. He supported all their events, such as the ABBA Palooza party, Valborgsmässoafton spring celebration, Lucia Christmas celebration, and Midsummer in June. He was the storage guy. He knew how to set up the lodge. He loved doing it. And, he was an expert at creating posters/signs for the lodge. All the support he gave to Drott Lodge was also part of what he did for the American Scandinavian Association (ASA), over 38 years. He was Margaret's strength when she was president of ASA for many years, just as he was during her chairmanship at Drott Lodge #168, Vasa Order of America (originally a Swedish organization, now Scandinavian). He received numerous certificates of appreciation over the years from Drott and ASA for his volunteerism and outstanding service.
He was an ardent advocate of Nordic culture. That interest led him to join the Norwegian Society a few years ago; he enjoyed talking with members during their interesting programs. Margaret’s heritage provided an entrance into being active in the local Finnish group at Finlandia Foundation National Capital Chapter. Gerry served on the Board in the early 2000s. He organized movie nights, ran the first website, kept membership records, published the membership directory, and encouraged the Finns to co-sponsor the Midsummer Picnic at Carderock Park. He sang tenor for three years when Michael Holmes lead the choir, and he helped Ossi Rahkonen, president, Finlandia Foundation National, to organize many wonderful concerts over the years. The current slate of Board members was nominated through Gerry’s leadership.
Gerry was a man of many talents. He learned to weave rugs in Pargas, Finland, when Margaret was a Fulbright Exchange teacher at Kaarinan lukio near Turko in 1996-1997. He was quoted in a local newspaper as saying that weaving was like playing the piano. While there, they learned Finnish social dancing as a way to meet the local people. He often reminisced that it was the best year of his life. And the year before, he learned wood carving and even studied at Sätergläntan in Dalarna Sweden under Mats Sjöberg. After coming back from Finland, he was oil painting in Maryland under the direction of Lasse Frosterud. He also joined the Nordic Dancers of Washington, DC to learn traditional Scandinavian folk dancing. He even took up barbershop singing with the Arlingtones Barbershop Chorus of Arlington, VA! With the Singing Capital Chorus, of Washington, DC, he sang the national anthem at the opening of a baseball game at Nationals Park in DC. Go to this website to see Gerry in the front row on the left: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7tqohxqApR4. This year, he was looking forward to doing that again in August. Whatever he did, he did it whole heartily.
His last paid job was one he felt proud to have. He was selling 50/50 Dream Foundation raffle tickets at the baseball park at Nationals Park! Not only did he get to experience the excitement of the ball park, but he also met wonderful fans and others on the raffle sales team, just in the weeks before his cancer was discovered.
This year’s Midsummer Celebration on June 29th was held as a celebration of Gerry, in honor of Gerry, who had been arranging the event over so many years. He had built the Maypole, designed the flag stand, and planned all the children’s games. Participants celebrated Gerry in different ways, including a serenade by George Hobart of the Arlingtones Barbershop Quartet.
Gerry lived each day to the fullest. He and his wife had been to the Finnish Embassy on Monday for a concert by the Olli Soikkeli String Trio; to a concert at Blues Alley in Georgetown on Tuesday performed by Gunhild Carling, known as Sweden’s “Queen of Swing”; and to a concert by his favorite harpist, Lily Neill, at Jammin Java in Vienna, VA on Wednesday. By Friday, he was at INOVA Hospital!
Gerry passed away peacefully as a CD of Lily’s music was playing. She was special to Gerry for so many reasons. He first met her years ago in 2006 at a Finlandia Foundation event. Her friendship meant a lot to Gerry. He and Margaret always went to her concerts and even met up with her in Helsinki. When she heard of his sudden passing, Lily said she would, of course, come to play at his memorial.
As Ossi Rahkonen said, Gerry was a people person. He let others know how proud he was of his 8% Finnish genes. He often visited the Mikko Nordic Fine Food restaurant in DC, where he felt at home. His sparkling blue eyes drew people to him and he enriched the lives of all around him. His loss is great. He was a husband, father, brother, baba, grandpa, and above all a friend. He leaves big shoes to fill.
Gerry’s legacy to the Scandinavian community consists of volumes of American Scandinavian Association newsletters. He produced informative, monthly newsletters with extensive write-ups, full of facts and dates, which he and his co-editor, Margaret, compiled for the newsletter readers.
His newsletter archives can be viewed at:
ASA website: https://scandinavian-dc.org
He is survived by his wife of 55 years, Margaret Schueman of McLean; his daughter, Angela Shoemaker of Manassas; his son, Greg Schueman of North Yarmouth, ME; and three granddaughters. In addition, he is survived by his brother, Kenneth Schueman, and his wife Sharron, of WA; and many cousins, nephews, nieces, great-nephews, and great-nieces. He is also survived by his brother-in-law John Bergvall, and his wife Judy, and their three children, of WA. He is preceded in death by his father Martin A. Schueman, his mother Gertrude C. Schueman, and his step-mother Florence Schueman, all of Illinois; and his sister Joan Schueman Ahlers of WA.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Potomac Heritage Trail Association, 1614 Aerie Lane, McLean, VA 22101 (phone 571-436-7801); the American Cancer Society; Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF); or a charity of your choice. A scholarship/grant in the Schueman name is being organized. The family wishes to extend their gratitude to Capital Caring hospice services of Arlington, VA for their care in our time of need.