Wellesley mourns John Schuler, lifelong resident dedicated to public service
John Garland Schuler, a lifelong Wellesley resident known for his service in education, government, and with charitable organizations, died peacefully at home on Feb. 3, 2024, at the age of 92 (see formal obituary).
A celebration of John’s life will be held at the Hills Congregational Church in Wellesley on Saturday, Feb. 10, at 1pm. In lieu of donations, John would encourage an act of service to the community.
This 1932 New Year’s Day baby had an outsized influence on Wellesley, where he graduated from the public school system and later taught at Dana Hall School, serving as chairman of the history department until his retirement in 1991.
John and his family were longtime residents in The Poets’ Corner neighborhood of town.
He began serving on Town Meeting in 1953 and was still serving through last fall’s Special Town Meeting. John kept up on current issues throughout, including in 2022 when he spoke to the benefits of accessible dwelling units. He shared on the floor that his children after graduating years ago from college all sought and found work in Wellesley, but couldn’t find housing here. “For a variety of reasons I strongly support Article 39,” he said. “For those of you who are newer Town Meeting members, this is my 70th consecutive year as a Town Meeting member and it has long been my hope that we would have this sort of an article brought before us.”
John had a longstanding interest in housing, having served on the Wellesley Housing Authority Board, which he sometimes chaired.
More recently, John and his wife Edwina “Dwin” Schuler, who survives him, were honored for their efforts with the Kiwanis Club service organization. About 100 family members, friends and admirers gathered at the Italo American Educational Club to fete the pair and enjoy their company. Their recognitions included the civics-oriented “The Schuler Award,” named after them (John had served more than once as the group’s president). In recent years, the couple was known for taking a leading role in the Salvation Army Red Kettle Drive, which annually raises thousands of dollars to support neighbors in our community.
At the ceremony, John had no shortage of words to share, including many credits to his wife, and encouragement for all to be of service.
The list of local organizations that John participated in, often through leadership positions, was seemingly endless. Others included the Boy Scouts and Wellesley Historical Society.
John and Dwin’s efforts were often linked, and that was the case with their work at the Council on Aging and the opening of the Tolles Parsons Center in 2017. The multi-purpose room at the senior center is named for the Schulers. John was always up for some good fun at senior events, too, for example donning his greenest attire to help celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.
I had the pleasure for years of being on the Wellesley Trails Committee with John, learning the history of the trails network from him, and walking in the woods with him as well. He loved sharing childhood stories of rehabbing an Oakland sedan and taking it for joyrides with friends in the woods at Longfellow Pond, now surrounded with paths marked by the Trails Committee. Once John got going on a topic, it was tough to derail him—I won’t soon forget his booming and commanding voice.
John played a pivotal role in getting the Trails Committee started through his work on the town’s Celebrations Committee and chairmanship of a Bikeways and Walkways Study Committee in the 1990s. Evidence of his recent creativity and persistence when it came to trails can be seen in the form of beautiful flower boxes on the DCR bridge near Waterstone in Lower Falls. I can still picture John in the not-too-distant past out there helping fellow Trails Committee members identify roots for removal on the Charles River Path, lest they trip up his fellow seniors.
In addition to his wife, John is survived by his son Ed and wife Jody of Columbia, SC; his son Peter and wife Sue of Westwood, MA; his daughter-in-law Meredith of Harrisburg, PA; his daughter Phyllis and husband Les of Brighton, MA; along with seven grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. He was predeceased by two sons, Dana in 1959 and Matthew in 2022.
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