Alfred S. Martin
Fig. 46. John Schamenek.
The American Rhododendron Society lost an ardent supporter and devoted worker with the death of John Schamenek of the Philadelphia Chapter on April 23rd. The impact was especially heavy because it came completely unanticipated. John was in apparent good health and, as usual, busy engaged with his garden and plants and on a multitude of special projects helping family and friends.
No other Eastern member of the Society was better known and liked or more widely respected. John constantly attended a wide circle of chapter meetings and was an associate member of several chapters. He had been extremely active in the Philadelphia Chapter since its inception and served almost continuously as an officer or director. The success of many chapter activities such as the annual banquet bus tour, plant sales and co-joined meetings with other chapters depended largely on his enthusiastic support. In recent years. the Chapter Exhibit in the annual Philadelphia Spring Flower Show was among his favorite projects. John was also very active in the Lily Society and the Holly Society.
During the all too few years that John worked with azaleas and rhododendrons, he acquired a competence and knowledge seldom rivaled. His services as a judge, technical expert and speaker were frequently asked and always freely given. His personal garden was outstanding, not only for its beautiful design and execution but also because of the extent and depth of his collection. John was the devoted friend of Joseph Gable and over the years of their association, he assembled a magnificent collection of Gable material. John Schamenek's own work in hybridizing was just beginning to immerge as a finished product. He worked extensively crossing Gable and other hardy material with less hardy plants to produce some truly beautiful and promising plants for his region. The resultant trusses had already won many awards for unnamed hybrids. Fortunately, John kept magnificent records so that his work can and will be carried forward and not lost as is too frequently the case.
Few people are blessed with John's tremendous ability to communicate successfully with any group of which he was a part. When functioning in an official capacity. he seldom followed Robert Rules but angry dissent was not long possible under his leadership.
His obvious sincere integrity, unfailing good humor and natural wit made him a unique catalyst for harmonious settlement of divergent opinion. The same attributes made him successful in motivating people to accomplish projects that they never intended to undertake. The flow of tasks was never one-sided. No one ever asked John for help or cooperation that it was not received. No job was to difficult for him to complete for a friend and assistance was usually offered before it was asked.
John Schamenek was a rare individual. His whole being was immeasurably greater than the sum of its parts. The void left by his death will not easily be filled nor fade but the lives of his friends will always remain enriched through their association.