John Schramel was a history teacher committed to public service whose influence extended beyond board and classrooms to the mountain streams and meadows of the Sierra Nevada.
During his eight years as a Plumas County supervisor, Mr. Schramel combined his interest in forest ecosystems with political savvy, launching a multi-agency stream restoration program.
“He tackled some of the thorny areas,” said Bill Coates, a former Plumas supervisor who worked with Mr. Schramel. “He just rolled up his sleeves, worked steadily and was unfailingly gracious about whatever he did.”
Mr. Schramel died of kidney failure Monday at his home in Greenville. He was 83.
Born on Oct. 3, 1931, to Hungarian parents in Northhampton, Pa., he was orphaned at age 14 and raised by his older sisters. After graduating from New York’s Cardinal Hayes High School, Mr. Schramel enlisted in the U.S. Air Force. He was sent to Korea early in the conflict, serving for 18 months as a radar observer through the coldest winter of the war.
On his return, while stationed at the Air Force airfield in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., Mr. Schramel was working to supplement his income on a turkey farm when he met Elizabeth Lucille Clark, an art major at nearby Skidmore College. He was immediately smitten, said Lee Anne Schramel, his daughter. Shortly after their marriage in 1954 they drove to California, where Mr. Schramel was stationed at McClellan Air Force. They relocated to San Francisco, where in 1959 he completed his college education at University of San Francisco. Mr. Schramel later earned master’s degrees in history and forestry.
When the Giants baseball team moved from New York to San Francisco in 1958, Mr. Schramel, already an avid fan, marched in a parade through the city to welcome them. He remained a Giants fan throughout his life.
Armed with a degree in history and a teaching credential, Mr. Schramel moved to Greenville, where he found a home for his commitment to family and community. He taught high school history and social studies for 27 years, a career he paused to enter local politics.
After his retirement from teaching in 1996, Mr. Schramel was elected to the Feather River College board and the Indian Valley Community Services District. He was a director of Sierra Institute for Community and Environment and an early member of Feather River Land Trust. Mr. Schramel also served on numerous regional and statewide organizations. His booming bass voice was an asset that served him as a teacher, politician and member of St. Anthony’s Catholic Church, where he sang from the audience for more than 50 years.
Mr. Schramel was an advocate for the Indian Valley community and beyond, said John Sheehan, former director of the nonprofit Plumas Corp.
“He influenced how we relate to government as well as forests, stream and mountains,” Sheehan said.
He is survived by his wife, Elizabeth of Greenville; daughters Elizabeth of Greenville, and Suzanne Stirling of Meadow Valley; sons, Mark of San Diego, and David, of Taylorsville; seven grandchildren; eight great-grandchildren; and sister, Rosalia Easton of Fillmore. A son, Paul, preceded him in death.
Services are scheduled at 10:30 a.m. Monday at St. Anthony’s Catholic Church in Greenville. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations in Mr. Schramel’s name to the Greenville Cy Hall Memorial Museum, Box 344, Greenville, CA, 95947, or a favorite charity.