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TMP honors longtime supporter on his 90th

8/2/2013

By DIANE GASPER-O'BRIEN

By DIANE GASPER-O'BRIEN

dobrien@dailynews.net

In the years leading up to his alma mater's 100th anniversary celebration, Jack Schramm kept telling his children he wanted to "live long enough to see the centennial."

"We thought he meant the TMP centennial," Schramm's son, David Schramm, said of the 2008 milestone celebration of the Catholic high school in Hays. "Now, we're wondering if he meant his own centennial."

Jack Schramm isn't quite there yet, but he's gaining.

Schramm survived a stroke and a heart attack three years ago, so his children decided to throw him a big party for his 90th birthday.

A come-and-go party, open to the public, is set for 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday in the cafeteria of Thomas More Prep-Marian Junior-Senior High School, the successor of St. Joseph Military Academy, from where Schramm graduated more than 70 years ago.

Schramm turns 90 Thursday, proclaimed "Jack Schramm Day" by the Hays City Commission. Like every Thursday, Schramm drove to Victoria for lunch with the Capuchin priests at St. Fidelis friary, then planned to rest up today for Saturday's big day.

"Nothing fancy," said David Schramm, the youngest of three siblings who will come from San Francisco for the celebration. "Cake and ice cream and lemonade. We just wanted something where people could come see Dad, and where Dad could visit with people."

Visiting with people is Schramm's specialty.

"Now, here's a real quick story ..." he begins many a sentence, and he has more than just a few stories to tell.

His resume is full, having worked in various types of fundraising and stewardship his entire adult life, although he rarely talks about himself.

It's obvious what's important to him, his own family and his TMP family.

He still follows TMP school events regularly. He talks fondly of his three grown children -- daughters Kathy and Julie and son David -- and their families; of his wife, Roma, who died in 2002 after 54 years of marriage; and of his only sister's children.

"All four of my nieces are coming (to Saturday's celebration)," he said with a glint in his eye.

Schramm smiled ever so slightly when he brought up another family member.

His oldest son, Vincent Randle Schramm, died 10 days after his second birthday in 1958, in a fire at the family home in Albuquerque.

Instead of burying himself in grief, Schramm set about raising money for a nearby orphanage in his son's memory.

A plaque adorning Vincent's name that hung for years in the Albuquerque orphanage nursery now takes up a prominent spot in Schramm's apartment. The walls of his small, cozy abode are full, featuring numerous events from his life, family photos and lots and lots of TMP memorabilia.

During his years of working for TMP, Schramm started the school's Auction for Christian Education, which has raised more than $5 million for the school in 39 years. He was instrumental in starting the TMP alumni association and served as the organization's first employed director. And he founded the TMP Endowment Foundation.

For all Schramm has meant to TMP, he said he's received a lot more from the school than he has given.

"The whole philosophy of life at TMP," he said. "It gave me an appreciation of my faith, the way to live -- putting Christ in everything, making him first in your life."

Schramm's story at TMP began in 1936 when he came from Arkansas City with his father to enroll at St. Joseph Military Academy. To be eligible for the ROTC program, they were told, students had to be 14 years old. Young Jack Schramm was 13.

The Schramms convinced the school Jack was ready for such a challenge, and he went on to earn the highest student rank as cadet major, was awarded the ROTC medal of honor (the highest student honor) and was commissioned as second lieutenant in the U.S. Army.

"It's kind of funny, they told me I was too young," for the ROTC program, Schramm said, "and now I'm having my 90th birthday party there."

One last quick story, Schramm added, "I've had a very full life. I'm very grateful."