Schomaker's low profile yields big impact
JACKSON — For the better part of his 90 years, Warren Schomaker has been able to accomplish much simply by keeping his head down and his nose to the metaphorical grindstone. For that approach to life, as well as for what he’s done along the way, he has been named a 2014 recipient of the Granite State Legacy Award.
Sponsored by the New Hampshire Union Leader and Centrix Bank, the award is given annually to “celebrate the accomplishments of some of New Hampshire’s most distinguished citizens, those who have given the most to our state through business, philanthropy, politics and more.”
Schomaker — who has led the Jackson Historical Society for 10 years and in March stepped down after his third three-year term as town treasurer — said he wasn’t quite sure what he did to merit the Legacy Award, but said he is both grateful and proud.
Former residents of Kennebunkport, Maine, Schomaker and his wife, Leslie, moved to Jackson about 20 years ago.
Schomaker was a founder of Continental Telephone in St. Louis, Mo., which prior to its acquisition in 1991 by GTE, was the third-largest independent telephone company in America. Born and raised in Australia, Schomaker came to the U.S. in 1945 and went to work for a telephone equipment-manufacturing company in Rochester, N.Y.
Schomaker subsequently retired from the phone business and moved to England, but came back to the States, settling in Kennebunkport, where he later served as president of the local historical society, and where he met Leslie, his third wife.
“She keeps telling me it took me three tries to get it right,” Schomaker said of Leslie, who graduated from Wellesley College, received an M.B.A. from the University of New Hampshire and currently is a trustee and treasurer of the Mount Washington Observatory.
When they moved to Jackson, the Schomakers purchased and restored what is simply known as “The Parsonage,” where they still live.
Schomaker soon joined the Jackson Historical Society. The town’s history, he pointed out, is intertwined with art. The Museum of White Mountain Art at Jackson, which is located within the historical society’s home in the Old Town Hall, will host an exhibit of that art in October.
Although Jackson has a modest year-round population of around 800, the historical society boasts some 500 members, many of them seasonal residents or visitors captivated by “the beauty of the scenery, the history,” he said.
Schomaker said he’s never sought out accolades, which is why he was surprised to be named a recipient of the Granite State Legacy Award.
“I’ve always operated under the radar,” he said, adding that being flashy and attention-getting is “not my style.” Besides, he continued, with a low profile “you get more done and when you stick your head out, people take potshots at you.”
Selectman John Allen said Schomaker has been a valuable public servant as town treasurer.
“He’s been a great asset to the town and he will certainly be missed,” Allen. “His expertise kept us running for quite a while; we’re sad to see him leave.”
Kathleen Driscoll has known Schomaker for nearly all of the almost 11 years she has held the post of executive director of the Jackson Area Chamber of Commerce. She said Schomaker’s knowledge of Jackson’s history is impeccable and his commitment to his hometown is commendable.
Schomaker, she said, “is a remarkable man who has brought a lot of life to Jackson” and is someone eminently deserving of recognition.