John R. Schneider, 65, political activist appointed to state Senate

August 28, 2002|By Andrew A. Green | Andrew A. Green,SUN STAFF

John R. Schneider, who achieved a lifelong dream in June when he was appointed to complete the term of former state Sen. Thomas L. Bromwell, died yesterday of colon cancer. He was 65.

Mr. Schneider, a retired AlliedSignal worker, was heavily involved in civic life in the Overlea-Fullerton area, particularly the local recreation council.

That civic engagement and a longtime friendship with Mr. Bromwell brought him to Annapolis as the senator's right-hand man, where he analyzed legislation and helped shepherd bills into law.

"From the day I met him until the day he died, we never had an argument, but he always had a way of putting me in my place," Mr. Bromwell said. "He was just a great friend and confidant, and more political than most people would ever imagine, more connected to the community."

Born in Perry Hall, Mr. Schneider graduated from Dundalk High School in 1956. He served in the Air Force, rising to the rank of staff sergeant. While in the service, he met Betty Irene Gobbo, who became his wife of 41 years.

As a boy, Mr. Schneider became involved in the Boys Club in Middle River and got hooked on helping people, Mrs. Schneider said. He worked for most of his life in several community organizations at a time.

Until he became ill, he was treasurer of the Allied Community Services Committee, the group that organizes Fullerton's July 4th fireworks display; treasurer of the national Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame, Baltimore chapter, a group that sponsors college scholarships for area high school students; and audits and budgets officer of the Overlea-Fullerton Recreation Council.

"He leaves behind a wonderful legacy of caring about people and serving his community, and being just the best dad a person could ever have," said his son, Jeff Schneider of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Mrs. Schneider said her husband loved politics and would have liked to have run for office. When Bromwell took a job as the head of the Injured Workers' Insurance Fund after this year's legislative session, the opportunity to finish out his term was "a dream come true," she recalled.

"He was so proud, so proud to be there," Mr. Bromwell said. "We gave him a Senate ring Sunday a week ago. He cried. He just cried, he was so proud."

The county's Democratic State Central Committee will have to nominate a replacement for Mr. Schneider. The replacement will officially be named by the governor and will serve until the winner of the November election takes over in January.

A funeral Mass will be held at 10 a.m. Friday at St. Michael's Roman Catholic Church in Overlea, where Mr. Schneider was a member.

In addition to his wife and son, he is survived by two daughters, Teresa Tangeman of Lancaster, Pa., and Debi Drury of Odenton; and four grandchildren.

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