James R. Schomer
Date of Passing:
James Ralph Schomer, known to all as Jim, passed away on February 27, 2023 in East Providence after a brief illness. He was 80 years old.
Jim was born in Chicago, IL to Peg (Ewing) Schomer and Herman Schomer on November 4, 1942. He was the second of six sons. He is predeceased by his eldest brother Jack. He is survived by younger brothers Bill, Don, Scott and Rick. Jim was married to and is survived by his wife, Ann Marie (Quinn) Schomer, to whom he was married for more than 57 years.
Jim was a bright boy who struggled in school at first, getting in trouble for fighting with students, being argumentative with teachers, and failing to do his work. When his family moved to Jackson, Michigan when Jim was 10, his fifth grade teacher took him aside and told him that moving to a new state was a chance for a fresh start. She told him that she would tell his new school his records were lost, giving him the chance to prove himself with no negative expectations. Jim was placed in the lowest academic group, but seized the opportunity his teacher gave him and never looked back. He would go on to graduate as the valedictorian of his high school class. He attended Massachusetts Institute of Technology on a full scholarship, where he studied Chemical Engineering. He also received a Masters Degree in Chemical Engineering from Purdue University, where he studied Uranium-235. He had a lifelong love of chemistry and the periodic table of elements, which may sound dry, but he always managed to make it interesting.
Jim worked in metallurgy, specifically the process of recycling scrap metal to extract precious metals. He approached his work with enthusiasm, innovating processes and modernizing scrap metal refining. After graduating from Purdue, he moved to Stamford, CT and then Los Angeles to work for Handy & Harman, once the largest U.S. silver trading firm, which in the 1960s began recycling precious metals from scrap.
Following the 1971 San Fernando earthquake which killed approximately 55 people in Southern California, Jim and his wife Ann decided to return with his young family to the East Coast, where earthquakes were not a problem. They settled in Barrington Rhode Island, where they lived for 26 years, followed by 26 years in Warren. Jim continued to work in scrap metal refining, first at Handy & Harman, then for RefineMet, a Rhode Island-based scrap metal refinery, and then for Boliden, a Swedish multinational mining company in Stockholm, with a facility in Mapleville, RI.
Jim had an encyclopedic memory of many topics, including baseball, American cars, manufacturing systems, and the melting point of any metal. He loved the television show The Big Bang Theory because it replicated almost exactly his memories of being a freshman at M.I.T. But Jim wasn’t just a regurgitator of information, he was a bona fide raconteur, armed with stories about both obscure and legendary ballplayers, defunct automobile companies, eccentric friends, family and co-workers, and his own adventures. His fraternity at MIT created one of the most famous college pranks of all time, the invention of The Smoot, a nonstandard, humorous unit of length, in which a student named Oliver R. Smoot was selected by his Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity pledge master to lay down repeatedly on the Harvard Bridge between Boston and Cambridge, so that his fraternity brothers could use his height to measure the length of the bridge. The prank is still marked on the bridge and the Smoot is still referenced today.
Jim and Ann shared a great love of friends, skiing, golf, and food. Most of all they loved to travel, and skied and played golf around the world. They had a large group of friends with whom they often traveled, and shared adventures and stories that he enjoyed recounting throughout his life. Among his favorite stories was the time he got airlifted off of a Swiss Alp, the time he landed in Bolivia during a coup d’etat; and the time he went to pick up one of his daughters at an international summer camp in the wrong country.
Jim had a lifelong love of the Chicago Cubs, his hometown team that actually drafted his brother as a pitcher in the 1950s. He grew to appreciate the Red Sox from his many years of living in Rhode Island, but his love of the Cubs ran so deep that when they played in the 2016 World Series, he went to bed early, rather than risk enduring having his heart broken again. To his utter shock, he woke up the next morning to discover that the Cubs had won.
He loved fishing, particularly with his son and brothers, and went on many fishing trips to Alaska, Montana and Wyoming. But he was also just as happy going for bluefish, or really just putting a line in the water even if he didn’t catch anything.
A friend to many, Jim was always willing to watch sports, bring a sick friend a treat, or offer a ride to an appointment. His love for friendship made him a centerpiece in social gatherings.
Jim had a favorite joke that he loved to tell and retell, about a French farmer and his three-legged pig. The key to the joke was that there was no reason for the farmer to be French…Jim just loved to perform the accent.
Jim is also survived by his three children, Catherine (Thomas Mitchell) Schomer, M.D., of Providence, Christine (Josh Wolk) Schomer of Brooklyn, NY, and Jay (Brett) Schomer of Bozeman, Montana. Jim was the proud and doting grandfather of four young women whom he adored: Lila, LiLi, Clare and Lucy. He was an exacting and enthusiastic maker of crepes, had an extremely precise idea of how to load a dishwasher, and loved the responsibility of waste paper management on Christmas morning.
He was deeply loved and will be dearly missed.
His Funeral will be private.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be sent to The Highlander Charter School, a Warren school Jim raised money for and believed in their mission:
The Highlander Charter School
360 Market St.
Warren, RI 02885
To you, Jim. We have been friends with you and Ann for 50 years and we feel privileged to have so many fun filled memories. We cherish all the times we’ve spent together skiing in Vermont, beachcombing in Florida, savoring dishes in Europe, soaking in the views in California, and even deep sea fishing off Cape Cod. Jim, you often held court telling your convoluted stories with our great group of friends at our Friday and Saturday night parties, quite raucous at first, taming over the years. We were all so comfortable together – one evening just after a flight from Europe you stretched out in Tip’s recliner and slept while we all dined in the other room. And all those New Year’s Eve parties! We will miss you. Ann, Catherine, Chris, Jay and all the family members, we wish you happy memories of a special person to comfort you at this most difficult time.
March. 7, 2013
Dear Ann & Family,
We are thinking of you during this difficult time. We hope the favorite memories you have of Jim, are now helping to sustain you.
Larry and I, always enjoyed being part of the extended Schomer family and hearing about your wonderful travel adventures with Carol & Bill.
Jim, was a classmate and I remember him as a tall, brilliant, funny, teenager. Meeting you both again as adults, it was refreshing to see he still retained those same traits and skills.
With great sympathy. We will be thinking of you and holding you In our hearts and prayers.
Judy & Larry Rouse
sorry to hear the sad news many good times at ricc and oyster point my sympathy to ann and your whole family henry
Blissful cosmic travels ..
good luck Jim on your new adventure, you will truly be missed. thank you for all your help and support in Scouting, troop 4 in particular. your compassion and help made it work when the troop needed help the most. God bless you for all eternity.
I extend my heartfelt sympathy to family and friends. What an incredible testament and here’s to a life well- lived and may his memory bring comfort.
What a beautiful tribute. Your dad was one in a million for sure! He was truly a remarkable, generous man who will be very much missed. Love to you all.
Jim lit up a room with his presence. His twinkling eyes and easy laugh made the Jackson Schomers all bubble with excitement. It always impressed me how he could get his older brother to laugh–they were like two teenage bears when together; delighted with each other’s antics, and extending the family love to all who were there. I can still see Grandma Peg laughing with tears streaming from the stories Jim would tell. He had a rhythm and ease about him that sparked joy. I am so glad I was able to be a part of that. Condolences to Ann, Catherine, Christine, Jay and the entire family.
Jim is missing but not gone.
Words are a perversion of the spirit
They slow the flow of consciousness
and cause the straight line of time to curve
and encircle the past,
to meet itself
on the other side
of a moment;
and move inward upon the core
of that moment
—which is death—
to pull a friend from that bondage,
and once again resume the journey of the tangents.
In words we would try to capture the spirit
and allude to its good and its bad.
In words we would try to free
our captive spirits,
by encircling the infinite,
by unraveling the paradox,
by searching to grasp the core,
and fling it away from us.
In words we are attracted to the end
with the force of gravity;
a series of circular moments
our only possession,
exploding in the end to rejoin
the flow of consciousness,
and once again
resume the journey of the tangents.
I’ll remember Uncle Jim for his humor and generosity. He always made you feel welcome at his home and loved to tell stories that would have everyone laughing. Sending lots of love to Aunt Ann, Catherine, Christine, Jay and all of your loved ones.
I am deeply sorry to hear about the passing of your loving father, Catherine. My sincere condolences to you and the entire family.
One of my most favorite condo people of all time. My condolences, Ann. How lucky to have had him for so long.
Spent a summer at his house as he helped me get my first college internship.
A busy summer as I recall with 3 or (4?) teenage/college kids using his home as a base. And never felt anything but the warmest welcome.
With dry/wry wit and obvious intellect he was insightful, non-judgmental and generous. Not a surprise as his family was the same. Always engaged in the conversations when it mattered and just generally positive, direct and even keeled. And always with a smile and twinkle in his eyes.
Good man and a positive force on many. Condolences to Ann, Catherine, Christine and Jay. He will be missed.
Jim was a major contributor to the health and well being of his neighbors in Oyster Point. Always available to help and contribute. I will miss our lively driveway chats and his ever present humor.
Sorry that we are out of the country at this sad time. Since we moved to Oyster Point in 2001 we have enjoyed having Jim and Ann as our neighbors. Some of our best memories of the Schomer family are from the Oyster Point pool.
We know that life has been difficult in recent years and we have missed our friendly neighbors. Our thoughts and prayers are with Ann and the entire family.
Oh and Jay- my baseball buddy- love to you and your family as well. We can always bond over your dad, yours and my love of McCarver and Buck calling games. Such great memories
I sure loved my Uncle Jim. So many funny memories and stories! Sending my love to my Aunt Ann and Catherine and Christine and their families. Love Jen
We stayed in touch from our high school days when we were picked up in Cliff’s 1938 Packard hearse and deposited at JHS, into college when I gave him my ID to buy beer , to years later when we tried to catch Bluefish on cape cod and he and Ann visited us in New Mexico and toured the area.
A wonderful friend who we will miss.
Our condolences to Ann, Catherine, Christine and Jay
Mott and Barbara
I loved Uncle Jim , he was larger than life and one of the greatest storytellers I’ve ever know . Second only to uncle Bill for fish story exaggeration! Some of my fondest memories are of he and auntie Ann dancing – always perfectly and lovingly . Letting me drive his old red Volvo, Blue fishing in Barrington . Actually hosting a hurricane party in 1986 and rescuing the elderly neighbor lady who was wandering her yard during the peak wind . He was a great brother to Jack and dad eagerly anticipated his visits . Peace to all the family . Rest in peace Uncle Jim.
He was a brilliant gentle giant who loved his family and would do anything for them. He was truly authentic in everything he did. We have fond memories of him when he and Aunt Ann and cousins Catherine, Chris and Jay would come to Michigan and spend time with us and extended family. I remember what an attentive listener he was focusing on the floor and nodding his head in agreement often. He had a great smile and a thunderous laugh. He was a strong anchor and a light to many. We would loved spending time with him and family in Rhode Island and one time we entropy Vermont to ski!! Wow!! Impressive that a man of stature could be such a good skier. I was just happy to make it down the bunny slope.
His smile melted my heart and his eyes always had a twinkle of mischief. There is no doubt he is will be greatly missed but he lives on in every person he loved. We love you Uncle Jim!! God bless your new soul!! Peace and love during this difficult time. We share your grief and love you all.
Love, Abby and Paul
So sorry to hear the news. UJ was always so much fun to be around. I have so many great memories. Going to Zermat, skiing at Okemo, talking business, telling jokes and funnies stories, fishing in Canada…the list is long. He was one of the few people in this world who could really get my dad to bellow out loud in laughter.
Condolences to you all, Aunt Ann, Catherine, Chris, Jay and everyone one. He was a great man who live a great life. He was certainly a great influence in my life.
Love to you all!!!
Uncle Jim lived life to the fullest and was a wonderful Uncle. We have many fond memories of him. He had the most generous spirit and was always fun to be with. He will be missed.
Our sincere Condolences to Aunt Ann, Catherine, Christine, Jay and the entire family. Peace and Love to you all.
Love, John and Lee