James C. Schoenthaler ’50 died on January 18, 2017, in Waterville, Maine.
(The following was published in the Waterville Morning Sentinel on January 29, 2017:)
James Courtney Schoenthaler
1927 – 2017
WATERVILLE – In a final tribute on Jan. 18, 2017, Jim was toasted in his country kitchen around its trestle table, where he had welcomed many friends (and those of his daughters) with warmth and a sense of humor. Jim was remembered by his children and grandchildren as strong-willed, open-minded, progressive, kind, and appreciative. He was an intent listener, a clear and insightful thinker, and a lover of political discussions.
James Courtney Schoenthaler of Waterville died peacefully on the 18th at home in the embrace of family. Born August 11, 1927, the son of Frank Schoenthaler and Delia Bouchard Schoenthaler, Jim grew up in the Waterville/Skowhegan area. In 1945, Jim graduated from St. John’s Prep in Danvers Mass., where he was later inducted into the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame for his accomplishments in basketball and track. Summering on Lake Wesserunsett as a teen, Jim met his future bride, Betsy Carpenter. At the age of 17, Jim joined the Navy and served in the Philippines during the final days of World War II. Following military service, he attended and graduated in the Class of 1950 from Bowdoin College, majoring in Economics and French, as well as playing varsity football, basketball, and tennis. Jim and Betsy were married in 1949, raised three daughters, and continued to have a devoted love affair of 71 years.
After graduation, Jim was employed in his family’s retail business, Alvina and Delia’s. Later, in his thirties and forties, Jim worked in state government, where he headed the Department of Labor under Republican Governor John Reed, and eventually, served as Commissioner of Manpower Affairs under Democratic Governor Kenneth Curtis. During his tenure, Jim was uncompromising in his efforts for the working people of Maine. Before it was politically popular, he questioned the immense power held by large corporations and special interests. Retirement found Jim building a Scandinavian log cabin on the Kennebec River, gardening and pickling with grandchildren, and playing tennis. In the 67 years after graduation, Jim rarely missed a Bowdoin-Colby football game, including the most recent in 2016. Jim and Betsy frequently entertained a long-standing group of friends, who loved to sing along as he played piano, a passion since early childhood. Throughout his life, music was a constant shared with aunts, an uncle, and an admired teacher.
Jim had a unique gift for connecting with people, and those connections endured and will endure.
Jim was predeceased by his wife, Betsy; his brother, Bill; and his parents.
He is survived by his daughters and their husbands, Ann Schoenthaler-Ervin and Edmund Ervin of Waterville, Suzanne Jones and W. Bruce Jones of Cumberland, and Julie Schoenthaler and James M. LaLiberty of Waterville. Surviving grandchildren and their spouses are Katherine Ervin and Andrew Kaplan, James S. and Tiffany LaLiberty, Ned and Erica Ervin, Elizabeth and Nicholas Rich, Caroline Ervin, Benjamin Jones and partner Riley Albair, and Emily Jones and partner Dave Dyer. Jim is survived by seven great-grandchildren, Delia and Hudson Rich, Miles and William Kaplan, Jamie and Martin LaLiberty, and Henry Ervin; and several nieces and nephews.
The family would like to thank the incredible caregivers, who allowed Jim to spend his last years at home: James and Tiffany, Dr. Edmund Ervin, Aimee, Ashley, Jennifer, Sara, and others from Care and Comfort, Maine General Home Care and Hospice, Tammy Morneau, and Larry Orchid.