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Published: Monday, 7/4/2011

Raymond G. Schell, 1925-2011: Navy vet advocated for WWII memorial


Raymond G. Schell, 86, of Genoa, a Navy veteran of World War II who fought in some of the Pacific theater's biggest battles, died June 30 in the Orchard Villa Nursing Home in Oregon. Family members said he had suffered an infection.

A retired state of Ohio employee and member of the Genoa Park Board, Mr. Schell was active many years in the Genoa community, also serving on the zoning and planning board.

But his passion was his status as a World War II veteran and the time he served as a seaman on the battleship USS Tennessee during the war. That connection drew Mr. Schell into lifelong activities with the American Legion, a USS Tennessee veterans group, and fund-raising efforts for the World War II Memorial in Washington.

In 2008, Mr. Schell fulfilled a dream by visiting the memorial with a group of war veterans from the Genoa area.

A charter member of the World War II memorial, Mr. Schell declined an invitation to attend its dedication in 2004. "He always regretted that," his daughter Jennifer Blum said.

When he finally visited the memorial as part of a bus tour organized by American Legion Post 324 in Genoa, "he had a fantastic experience," his daughter said.

At that stage of his life, Mr. Schell was dependent on a cane and wasn't sure he would be able to make the visit.

But once reaching the memorial, he began walking spryly, barely using his cane, family members said. "It was as if his knee didn't hurt, his thigh didn't hurt. It was such a rush of adrenalin for him to see what he had been hearing about for years," Ms. Blum said.

Mr. Schell was born in Graytown, Ohio, where he went to elementary school. He attended high school in Oak Harbor, Ohio.

In May, 1943, he entered the Navy and was assigned to the USS Tennessee, where he served until 1946.

"His life could have been a chapter in Tom Brokaw's book about the Greatest Generation," his daughter said.

While aboard the battleship, Mr. Schell participated in 13 major battles, including Tarawa, Kwajalein, Eniwetok, Kaving, Saipan, Guam, Tinian, Leyte Gulf, and the Surigao Straits.

After the war, Mr. Schell worked for the Ottawa County Cooperative Service, as a pipefitter for 21 years at Pure Oil Co.'s Toledo operation, and as head of maintenance for 16 years at the geriatric building of the Toledo Mental Health Center.

As a member of the Genoa Park Board, Mr. Schell helped with an expansion of Veterans Park in Genoa, which included the addition of baseball and softball fields. While on the zoning and planning board, he helped oversee the construction of the Genoa Care Center.

Mr. Schell was a longtime member of the USS Tennessee veterans association, a charter member of the U.S. Navy Memorial, a longtime member and past president of the Genoa Area Kiwanis Club, a member of Post 324, and a member of VFW Post 7510.

He also was a member of St. John United Church of Christ in Genoa, where he served as an elder and deacon.

Mr. Schell and his first wife, Norma Freimark, married in 1952. She died in 1969.

Surviving are his wife, Donna, whom he married in 1990, daughters, Jennifer Blum and Joanne Pinkerton, stepsons, John, Steve, and Rick Bast, stepdaughter, Peggy Bast, four grandchildren, and numerous stepgrandchildren and stepgreat-grandchildren.

Services will be at 11 a.m. Wednesday at the church. Visitation will be after 2 p.m. Tuesday in the Robinson-Walker Funeral Home, Genoa. Burial will be with military honors in Elliston Cemetery, Elliston, Ohio.

The family suggest tributes to the church, or Genoa Area Local Schools Scholarship Foundation.

Contact Jon Chavez at: jchavez@theblade.com or 419-724-6128.

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