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James SCHNEID Obituary
James M. "Jimmy" Schneid, age 71, died December 28, 2013, at his home in the Candler Park neighborhood of Atlanta. A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. on Saturday, January 25, 2014, at the First Existentialist Congregation, also known as The Old Stone Church, located at 470 Candler Park Drive, Atlanta, GA 30307. There will be a reception with refreshments following the program. Jimmy was born on August 9, 1942, in Cleveland, Ohio, the son of Carl Christopher Schneid and Marguerite Mary Sheehy Schneid. Jimmy was a member of the 1960 graduating class at Rocky River High School, where he wrote a column for the school newspaper entitled "Schneid Remarks." He reprised his column on the class website for their 50th anniversary of graduation with a summary of his peripatetic life, which included college at Ohio State University, a year of law school, and service as a 1st Lieutenant in the U.S. Army in Vietnam. Jimmy wrote of his experience upon arrival in Vietnam: "I hung out for a few days in a safe place until they found a way to use me. News came that a young lieutenant up north in Chu Lai lost his head to a helicopter blade and they needed a quick replacement officer to take over his command -- an avionics detachment to an aviation battalion with a fleet of four assault helicopter companies. Thus began a huge job, 500 hours of combat flight and a slice of reality quite different from my four prior years in a frat house." As Jimmy put it, he "never nurtured a dream to 'become' something, specifically," so beyond his military service he "put together an interesting string of occupations to engage and support myself. Again, in no particular order: U.S. Merchant Seaman, elementary school teacher, soldier, Madison Avenue ad man, law clerk, interior designer, garden designer, waiter, cook, yoga instructor, international shipping expediter, handy man, pot dealer, landscaper, jewelry designer, visual display artist. . . ." Jimmy's marketing major at Ohio State led to his work as an ad man, in the Mad Men era: "I was on the team that dreamed up the insipid campaign for the Florida Citrus Commission using Anita Bryant as our spokesmodel. The ditty 'Come to the Florida Sunshine Tree' still occasionally haunts my sleep. Anita, as most of you know, went from the sunshine tree to being America's outspoken voice condemning homosexuality. I felt that her success as orange juice queen, a role I helped to create, gave her the 'apple pie' (orange pie?) credibility and momentum to carry her message of hate to America. I had betrayed my tribe. . . . Disenchanted with the advertising business and my participation in it, I left for the next stop on my journey." After hitchhiking through Europe, Jimmy went to Bolivia where a friend from college and law school had gone to avoid the draft. Although Jimmy was using his friend's ranch as a base of South American exploration, the friend was working to thwart U.S. attempts to overthrow the president of Chile, Salvador Allende. When the feds sought to extradite Jimmy's friend, Jimmy was subpoenaed to testify before a federal grand jury. "Not wanting to cooperate, I split. In time I was indicted as a co-conspirator and the chase became very serious. . . ," Jimmy wrote. "The situation with the law on my tail kept me hopping. In San Francisco I lived all over the city. The Patty Hearst thing happened and shifted attention away from me, and so within the framework of my insane predicament I still managed to have a somewhat "normal" life. One day I lost all my belongings, including my meager savings (all in cash, stashed in a sock), in a huge fire that destroyed three historic Victorians. I owned the clothes I was wearing, nothing else. Homeless, broke and wanted, I stuck out my thumb and ended up in Key West." In Key West, Jimmy lived under an assumed name "Curtis," and "drank with my neighbors Tennessee Williams, Truman Capote and the ghost of Hemingway. I met a woman who designed jewelry to peddle at fairs and shows. I learned the craft and became her partner. We exhibited in New Orleans, Miami, Chicago, Atlanta, [and] all over, for years traveling in a pickup with a camper, returning to Key Weird to make more art. Life was good." By 1980, in favor of the severity of the charges being diluted, Jimmy was talked into surrender. "This was plea bargaining just like you see on Law and Order. Reluctantly, I agreed to a drug possession conviction. At the time I was very indignant about this compromise. The years have mellowed me. I think now of all the other times I could have actually been busted for drugs. It could have turned out far worse," Jimmy wrote. By this time, Jimmy had settled in Atlanta, where he worked as a waiter at Capo's Café in Virginia-Highland from 1977 to 1999, and later at AmericasMart as a manager of The Gardens showroom. During this time, Jimmy also did volunteer work, delivering meals for Project Open Hand. It was at Capo's that Jimmy met his companion of 34 years, Robert Mooney. In 1989, Jimmy bought his home on Druid Place in Atlanta, where he was beloved by his neighbors, who pitched in to help care for his pets, Lily and Ratty Tat Cat, and provide meals, lawn care and other services during his final illness. That illness came as a surprise. Jimmy had always looked at least 15 years younger than his actual age, exercised regularly, watched what he ate, and had been sober for 4½ years. During the summer of 2012, a month after receiving a clean bill of health at his annual physical, Jimmy began experiencing disturbing symptoms that ultimately were diagnosed as hepatobiliary carcinoma. He was given about two months to live without chemotherapy. With the help of his wonderful oncologist, Dr. Jayanthi Srinivasiah, Jimmy underwent treatment that led him in May 2013 to write his friends exclaiming that he felt fantastic and was happy to have been able to travel, garden, and do things that previously had been simply ordinary. Jimmy transitioned to hospice care in September 2013, which allowed him to enjoy a splendid fall in his home, often on his front porch, visiting with friends and neighbors as he so often had during his 20-plus years on Druid Place. In addition to his longtime companion, Robert, and his pets, Jimmy is survived by his brother William C. "Bill" Schneid, his wife Liz, of Olmsted Township, Ohio, and their three children, and many, many friends.
Published in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Jan. 24, 2014
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