James R. Boone

[ Age 78 ] Stationary engineer, merchant mariner and Army veteran delivered military supplies to U.S. soldiers.

The lifelong Democrat prided himself on his homemade chili, which won several cooking contests.

November 19, 2007|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,sun Reporter

James Richard Boone, a retired merchant mariner and stationary engineer, died of lung cancer Saturday at Gilchrist Center for Hospice Care. The Parkville resident was 78.

Mr. Boone was born in Baltimore and raised on his family's farm in Fork. He attended Baltimore County public schools until he was 16, when he quit to join the U.S. merchant marine in 1945. During his early days, he sailed on both Liberty and Victory ships, and concluded his first voyage to France in 1946. During the Korean War, he served on vessels supplying ammunition and other war materiel to American forces.

Mr. Boone was drafted into the Army in 1955 and served as a paratrooper in Germany for two years before being discharged with the rank of corporal in 1957.

After completing his military service, he returned to the sea.

"During the Vietnam War, he was running military supplies to Da Nang and other ports in Vietnam. He enjoyed the excitement of travel and during his career traveled extensively all over the world," said a nephew, James Richard Strobel of Columbia, S.C.

"I'm named for him, and I always looked up to him. He was always away at sea when I was growing up, but when he came home it was always a big deal," he said.

A member of the Seafarers International Union since 1947, Mr. Boone attended its Harry Lundeberg School of Seamanship in Piney Point during the 1970s and completed his General Educational Development diploma. He also took courses for chief pumpman and in advanced firefighting, welding and refrigeration.

He was serving aboard supertankers and bulk carriers when he retired from the sea after suffering a heart attack in 1984.

Mr. Boone then worked as a power plant engineer for six years at Towson University and the Rosewood Center in Owings Mills, before retiring a second time in 1990.

Mr. Boone met his future wife, Betty Shaneybrook, at the Gamber Moose Lodge and married her in 1980.

"He didn't have any children of his own but treated Betty's sons and his nieces and nephews as his own children," said a niece, Kimberly McLean of Hampstead. "He always had a cause and looked at life that way. He wanted the best for everyone."

Mrs. McLean described her uncle as the "most generous person I've ever met. He'd show up at your door with bags of groceries when you needed it or tuck a little money under a dish. He was so giving and loving."

"He was a gem, a wonderful person and a great brother," said a sister, Doris Baumiller of Towson.

Mr. Boone prided himself on his homemade chili, which won several cooking contests when he lived in Inverness, Fla., from 1990 until last year, when he and his wife moved to Parkville because of Mr. Boone's failing health. According to Mrs. Baumiller, he also suffered from lymphoma and melanoma.

A lifelong Democrat, Mr. Boone was a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Moose Lodge. He enjoyed traveling, fishing and gardening.

"I enjoyed the last years of my life with Betty. We liked to do the same things and very seldom did we go somewhere without the other. We felt lost when we weren't together," Mr. Boone wrote in an autobiographical sketch shortly before his death.

In his sketch, he delivered a good-natured gibe at Mr. Strobel, a Republican, whom he asked to be his eulogist at his memorial service.

"He may ... change parties - more Democrats go to heaven," he wrote.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Dec. 1 at the Lemmon Funeral Home, 10 W. Padonia Road in Timonium. Mr. Boone donated his body to the State Anatomy Board.

Also surviving, in addition to his wife and sister, are two stepsons, Dennis and Charles Shaneybrook, both of Sparks; another sister, Marie Brockmeyer of Forest Hill; and two step-grandchildren. Another stepson, Walter S. Shaneybrook Jr., died last year.

fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com

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