Dennis and Ceci Schuman

 By Dorinne Richardson


Some people say there is no such thing as “love at first sight.”  Don’t tell Dennis Schuman. When he saw Ceci walk into a Jaycee/Jayshee meeting, Dennis knew instantly that he was looking at his future wife. Nearly forty years later, the gleam was still in his eyes when he told me that story.

Born September 24, 1939, in our nation’s capitol, Cecilia (Ceci) Schuman is the oldest of four children born to Ruth Elizabeth (Liberko) and Elton George Going. Her sister Marie lives in Oregon. Her brother George lives in Florida and brother Mark resides in North Carolina. At the time of her birth, her parents both worked for the Civil Service. In fact, her father was her mother’s boss. 

When Ceci was three years old, the Going family moved to Collinsville, a small town located in southwestern Illinois. The self-proclaimed “Horseradish Capital of the World” is said to produce 85% of the world’s horseradish.  It is also home of the world’s largest ketchup bottle ~ a 170-foot tall water tower in the shape of a ketchup bottle. Ceci says the last time she saw it, the bottle was still a Brook’s Tangy Ketchup bottle, just as it was when she was growing up.

When Ceci was five, they moved to neighboring Glen Carbon, the town where her father grew up. Only in small town America during the 1950s could you walk into your 7th grade classroom and find you father’s name scratched into a blackboard. It was a very poignant moment in Ceci’s life when it happened to her.  Ceci graduated from Edwardsville High School. (Edwardsville is a consolidated school for junior and senior high students in the surrounding towns and farm communities.) She then studied for one year at Springfield Jr. College near Springfield, Illinois.

As a child, Ceci’s favorite vacations were visiting her Grandma Rose, whose china sees frequent use in Ceci’s kitchen. These days her favorite trips include those to visit her 85-year old Auntie Glo, still living in Glen Carbon. Ceci’s favorite childhood memory is the Christmas she watched a locust exit his exoskeleton. She was so captivated by the event that she wrote a paper entitled “How a Locust Came out of Its Shell.” Though written when she was in third or fourth grade, Ceci still has that paper after all these years. Another favorite childhood memory was making her First Communion at St. Cecilia’s Catholic Church in Glen Carbon. (Is this a coincidence or what?) Ceci says, however, she “was not named after the church.”

While her job as an accounting clerk for Prudential Insurance holds a special place in her memory as her favorite job, Ceci describes her primary profession as wife, mother and home-maker. She has held a wide variety of positions over the years, including babysitter, cook, waitress, retail sales at L.S. Ayres, bank teller, student supervisor at Hobart High School and teachers’ aide. At one point in time, she worked alongside some of her daughters at Burger King. Currently she is secretary and receptionist for day care ministry at South Lake Worship Center. 

Sewing, crocheting, cooking, writing, reading, grandchildren and photography are Ceci’s hobbies. On the way to Easter Sunrise Service this year, Ceci took some really spectacular photographs. She plans to mount these dazzling, eye-catching photos and display them in her warm and hospitable home on the west side of Hobart, where she raised her six children ~ James, Jeanne, Daniel, Michelle, Roberta and Julie.

On October 23, 1971, Ceci married Dennis Schuman at Hobart Presbyterian Church. After meeting Pastor Charlie at Hobart High School, Ceci left that church and joined Augustana in 2001. Here at Augustana, Ceci attends adult Sunday School, has served on the evangelism committee and two terms on the church council. She has functioned as usher, communion steward and lector, helped with Lenten soup suppers, participated in blood drives, made items for silent auctions and quilt projects. She also designed and created our Augustana brochure.

Six months before the atomic bomb made its debut in Hiroshima, Japan, Dennis Schuman made his debut in Gary, Indiana.  Born February 17, 1945, to Florence Morse and Joseph Schuman, Dennis is the oldest child. Sister Jill is his only sibling. The family lived in Gary until Dennis was in fifth grade, where he attended Emerson School. When they moved to Hobart, he attended Mundell Elementary, Hobart Jr. High and Hobart Sr. High School. After graduation in 1963, Dennis worked as a mason’s helper, lining furnaces in the open hearth at U.S. Steel. He attended Indiana State for one year, majoring in Criminal Psychology. When he was drafted, he left ISU and served his country from January 1966 through December 1967. He received his basic training at Fort Campbell in Kentucky and was then sent to Fort Gordon in Georgia.

The Viet Nam Conflict was raging at the time. Fortunately, Dennis was sent to Germany where the Private First Class spent the next 18 months in the U.S. Army. A teletype operator and communications specialist, Dennis was also assigned to guard prisoners. One of his more memorable experiences was observing famed defense attorney Melvin Belli defend a murder suspect before a military tribunal. After winning the case, Belli treated Dennis and other guards to a lobster dinner at the Officers’ Club. Belli was not the only celebrity Dennis had occasion to meet. He also met Frank Fontaine, better known as Crazy Guggenheim. Remember him? He appeared in the Jackie Gleason Show skits featuring “Joe the Bartender.”

Thanks to Uncle Sam, Dennis has been to Switzerland, England, Germany and France, where he played a part in helping to set up the communications for the Paris Peace Talks.

As a kid, Dennis’ favorite vacation was a trip around Lake Michigan.  The Lake Michigan Circle Tour (LMCT) loops around Lake Michigan, following state highways located closest to the lake. It is a spectacular tour and if you’ve never taken this trip, you should make plans to do so. Another favorite vacation was deep-sea fishing with his kids off the Virginia Coast.

Dennis has worked in men’s clothing sales and in department store management. Currently he buys gold, silver, jewelry and coins for AALAND Diamonds in Southlake Mall. He has a number of hobbies ~ hunting, woodworking, gardening, photography and fishing. As a matter of fact, the day I visited the Schumans, Dennis was contemplating fishing if the weather cooperated. 

As previously mentioned, Dennis and Ceci were married at Hobart Presbyterian in 1971. After the ceremony and as the happy couple was preparing to leave the church, Dennis looked up and saw his five new step-children lined up across the back of the church. That, friends, is his favorite memory. I was really touched by this. I am also touched by the fact that (other than that one time) Dennis never again referred to them as his “step-children.” James, Michele, Jeanne, Dan and Roberta are as much his children as his biological child, Julie. 

Since becoming a member of Augustana in 2007, Dennis has served on the property and finance committees and the church council. Along with Ceci, he also attends adult Sunday School classes, greets and ushers.

The Schumans have spent a lot of time traveling around the country. In addition to the trips mentioned earlier, Ceci & Dennis have traveled to Oregon, Nevada, Nebraska, Minnesota, Florida, Washington, D.C., Massachusetts, Virginia, Kentucky, North Carolina and southern Indiana. They have six children and thirteen grandchildren. The NWI kids and grandkids they see often. It is a special treat for them to visit those living in Virginia, Kentucky, North Carolina and Bloomington, Indiana.