By Ron Hayes
GULF STREAM — On the wall of his New York study, the celebrated journalist Bill Moyers keeps signed photographs of the great men he has known — John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson.
He also keeps a photograph of Robert Ford Schumann, a seasonal resident of both Ocean Ridge and Gulf Stream for more than 30 years.
Mr. Schumann died on Dec. 8 at his winter home in Madison, Conn. He was 90.
A friend and colleague since 1991, Moyers is the president of The Schumann Center for Media and Democracy and spoke at Mr. Schumann’s memorial service Dec. 16.
“Bob believed in public parks, public libraries, public broadcasting and the public square,” he told those gathered in Madison’s First Congregational Church. “The last big effort of his life was to enlist in the fight to protect the land of the old airport here in Madison from development — to save it for the public.”
But the Schumann Center was only a small part of the Schumann family’s generosity.
Locally, Mr. Schumann helped underwrite the cost of adding a library to the campus of the Achievement Centers for Children and Families in Delray Beach.
“We have lost a dear friend,” said Nancy K. Hurd, the center’s chief executive officer. “Mr. Schumann was a kind and thoughtful man who cared enough to share his resources with hundreds of children whose lives are better because of his generosity. I always looked forward to his visits, and feel a great loss at his passing.”
An avid golfer, he had been a member of the Gulf Stream Club, the Little Club, the County Club of Florida, and maintained his membership in the St. Andrew’s Club until his death.
“He was a modest man of wealthy means whose basic philosophy was giving something back,” recalled Ed Bates of Ocean Ridge, a friend of 20 years. “He was a humanitarian and philanthropist.”
Eileen Augustyn met Mr. Schumann when both moved into the Ballentrae condominum in 1980.
“He was affable, philanthropic, a wonderful friend, fun, with a great sense of humor, and he cared about people.”
Robert Ford Schumann was born July 25, 1921, in Montclair, N.J., and graduated from Wesleyan University in 1944.
In 1949, he opened the Schumann Buick dealership in Binghamton, N.Y., where his philanthropic endeavors flourished for the next 50 years.
Mr. Schumann was a devoted birder, an avocation to which he’d been introduced in childhood and maintained throughout his life.
He served for many years on the board of both the National Audubon Society and the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology. A chair in ornithology has been established in his name at his alma mater.
“He was a good, quiet person who was very generous, very fair and very honest,” recalled his son, Robert Ford Schumann. “He was a wonderful model for all of us.”
In addition to his son, Ford, Mr. Schumann is survived by his wife, Marilyn Hotchkiss Schumann; their sons, David Dickinson Schumann and Edgar James Hotchkiss; daughters Mary James Schumann Hurley, Lola Ford Schumann, Carol Hotchkiss Potts, Linda Hotchkiss and Barbara Hotchkiss; seven grandchildren; two great-granddaughters; and a brother, Ward Ford Schumann.
The family asks that donations be made to a charity of choice.