Home' The River Weekly News : RWN 121115 Contents 7
THE RIVER - DECEMBER 11, 2015
Cypress Cove Man Recalls
Senior Friendship Center Start
submitted by Ed Stransenback,
Cypress Cove At HealthPark Florida
For 21 years, Harry Schumacher
served as an educator and adminis-
trator in the Belleville and East St.
Louis (Illinois) school system. He was a
beloved and well-known figure in a trou-
So, it came as no surprise in 1967 that,
during a tumultuous time in American his-
tory, riots erupted in the East St. Louis
community. What was surprising, though,
was the late night call Schumacher got
from the mayor of that troubled city.
He was asked to help restore calm
by talking with the community’s youth.
Schumaker didn’t give it a second thought,
jumping in his car and heading to the East
St. Louis housing project where he dis-
covered firemen and policemen “pinned
down” from gun fire atop one of the high
Schumacher drove a big ‘98 Oldsmobile
and, despite police discouragement, he steered his car toward the not-so -friendly gun
fire. Bullets zipped around him – even smashing through the car’s back window.
At that point, he jumped out of his car and, thankfully, a few of the unruly mob
recognized him, stopped shooting and Schumacher managed to help restore peace to
That’s the kind of guy Schumacher was and is – an individual with his arms open,
willing to help. The lessons learned during his educational career would serve him well,
allowing him to walk a career path where his calming demeanor and administrative
skills would lend happiness and comfort to thousands.
Meanwhile, the rioting incident in East St. Louis most likely was an impetus for him
to consider a move. And thanks in part to a lady friend in Burlington, Vermont (he
and Ronnie would later marry), he focused his attention on a new career based in New
Ronnie guided him towards Vermont where his credentials drew the interest of
the governor. He would soon receive the appointment as director of the state’s
Department of Aging. It was no unfamiliar territory for Schumacher since he had done
similar work while in Illinois.
Still, the transition was not without a strained beginning – coming into a small
New England state and taking over a staff of 27. In fact, for the first six weeks, his
staff would not talk to him. A phone call provided a quick resolution when Governor
Richard Snelling strolled into his office and proceeded to introduce him to each of the
staff. The message was received. Schumacher’s days of solitude ended.
Another appointment soon followed. This time he would be the state representa-
tive to the White House Conference on Aging, a position that gave him the responsi-
bility for administering all federal senior/aging programs in Vermont.
The position opened new possibilities and an opportunity for Schumacher to
expand his senior management career. While at a conference, he met Brother William
Geenen, founder of the Senior Friendship Center program in Sarasota. Schumacher
impressed Brother Geenen so much that he was recruited to establish and manage
Senior Centers in Venice, Fort Myers and Naples.
“The philosophy of the program was amazing to me,” said Schumacher. The cen-
ters provide a plethora of activities and services for the purpose of helping to eliminate
isolation and loneliness for the elderly. Schumacher jumped at the chance and worked
as director, then as regional administrator for centers from Sarasota to Naples.
There were many outstanding center programs that Schumacher spearheaded,
such as the establishment of clinics manned by retired doctors and nurses (state
approved) and the development of an adult day care center, a transportation pro-
gram and a meals program. The programs were and still remain a success even after
Schumacher’s departure in 1998, following 17 years of devoting himself to bringing a
smile to the faces of those who use the centers.
The key to the program’s success, said Schumacher, was “volunteering,” and
through Schumacher’s passionate ways, the centers flourished.
Today, Schumacher and his wife, Ronnie, continue to enjoy life in Southwest
Florida on the campus of Cypress Cove at HealthPark Florida, a 48-acre life-planned
Supervisor Of Elections Announces
Candidacy For Re-Election
Lee County Supervisor of Elections
Sharon Harrington intends to con-
tinue serving voters in the office she
has held since 2004, announcing that she
will seek re-election in 2016 as the only
experienced candidate in the field.
Harrington, who first came to the Lee
County Elections office in 1989 as fiscal
officer/human resources director, expects
to rise above the field on the merits of her
depth of commitment to the office, and the
many significant milestones it has achieved
under her watch.
“Facilitating free, fair elections and
removing hurdles so that anyone who is eli-
gible may exercise their right to vote is my
life’s passion.” Harrington said. “It is with
pride that this office is able to do so while
returning ad valorem tax money back to
the Board of County Commissioners year
Since 1989, the number of registered
voters has increased from 169,000 to
more than 425,000. Harrington has
supervised the conduct of more than 51 national, state, county, municipal and special
elections since 2004. By enforcing a culture of fiscal discipline, she has enabled the
Lee County Elections office to return ad valorem tax money to the Board of County
Commissioners every year since 1990, including $9.5 million in just the last 10 years.
Harrington’s significant milestones include the implementation of the National Voter
Registration Act in 1993, participation in the pilot project to develop the Florida Voter
Registration System (a centralized database of all registered voters in Florida), and the
conversion from punch card voting to a touchscreen voting system after the passage
of the Help America Vote Act in 2002. A transition from touchscreens to the optical
scan system now in use in Lee County was a second major voting equipment change.
Lee County made its voice heard during hearings conducted by both the Florida
House and Senate that resulted in numerous new bills in 2013 to reverse those passed
in 2011. Those 2011 laws had a direct effect on the problems of the 2012 election.
One productive solution was to reduce the wording on constitutional amendments
being placed on a ballot.
By retaining Harrington, voters can expect continued advocacy in Tallahassee on
continued on page 16
“Fresh ingredients, simplicity, love...
the recipe for a treasured dining experience”
Chef/Owner AJ Black
751 Tarpon Bay Road
Sanibel Island, FL
www.iltesoro.net • 239-395-4022
FINE ITALIAN CUISINE
IL TESORO RISTORANTE
inspired by Island Fare in a bistro style
TASTE OF THE ISLANDS
IRON CHEF WINNER AJ BLACK
VOTED “BEST CHEF”
BEST OF THE ISLANDS AWARD
Extensive New Wine List
Tasting Menu • Wine Tastings
Now Open In
Links Archive RWN 120415 RWN 121815 Navigation Previous Page Next Page