Jack Nelson Shick - Memorial

Obituary - Saturday, February 25, 2005 - Daily News Record -Jack Nelson Shick 1914-2005. Harrisonburg, Virginia

Jack N. Shick - Jack Nelson Shick, 90, of 2998 Earmans Loop Road in Harrisonburg, died Friday, Feb. 25, 2005, at his home. He had been in failing health for the past year.

Mr. Shick was born Aug. 4, 1914, in Williamsport, Pa., and was the son of the late Nelson and Lista Agatha Beegle Shick.

He moved to the Harrisonburg area eight years ago. He served in the Marines during World War II and was active as a Mason and in the Shriner’s and Elk’s clubs. He was a manufacturing representative and received a patent for his work on iceberg utilization last year. He was a member of the Harrisonburg Unitarian Universalist Church.

His wife, the former Mona Mae Hazelton, preceded him in death.

He is survived by three sons, Nelson Raymond Shick of Hartford, Conn., Jack Allen Shick of Norfolk and Bruce Franklin Shick of Tewksburg, Mass.; a brother, Ira H. Shick, Columbus, Ohio; a companion, Joann Frederick of Elkton; three grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held 3 p.m. Sunday at the McMullen Funeral Home in Harrisonburg, where the family will receive friends from 2-3 p.m. Sunday.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Shriner’s Children’s Hospital, 2900 Rocky Point Drive, Tampa, FL 33607-1460.

Merle's Eulogy to Jack - We gather here to celebrate the life of Jack Shick. The older I get, the more I pay attention to these memorial services. Our thoughts and memories create a living memorial as lasting as those chiseled in granite. As friends battle cancer and disease, as our own bodies slow down, we all seek to understand the reverse side of life. We flip the coin, briefly, and study death. It is though, as if with closed eyes, we dare to reach out and finger-feel the mysterious, twisted strands that connect life with death. The fear subsides. The stories we share today honor that transcendent bond between life and death.

Two "Jack Shick" memories are forever etched in my mind. The first is of Jack, the man with the great imagination. I have dreamed at times of inventing something--you know like a household gadget or something that helps make my business run better. But when I heard about Jack's idea of literally dragging pieces of Antarctica, up the Pacific, across the Equator and into the ports of water-starved countries, I was dumbfounded. I will remember that grin Jack gave when he told how he called America's premier tarpaulin companies to ask if they could make a cover big enough to shade his floating ice cube so it would not melt while traveling through the equatorial waters, as it were pushed along by 8 atomic powered submarines. Of course at first they all said yes, dollar signs flashing through their minds, until Jack told them he was talking about acres and acres of tarpaulin, and they had to admit they just couldn't make a tarp that big--something Jack had probably figured out before he called them.. But their refusal didn't stop Jack. He figured out what kind of fast growing plant would thrive on the melting water of his floating island, and how their millions of tiny leaves would temporarily provide shade until the iceberg reached its port. Now that's an imagination. When I pay $1.29 for a pint of water, which equates to over $ 400 a barrel compared to oil currently selling at about $53 per barrel, I know that Jack had keen insights into the future of our planet.

The second is the story of Jack the sailor. I don't remember the assignment, but when our current minister, Byrd Tetzlaff, first came to our church, about 25 of us were in a class called "Building your Own Theology." We each tried to develop a moral and spiritual code we could live by. There were a number of exercises we performed, such as recounting your greatest dreams, the scariest moment of your life or maybe it was supposed to be when we felt the smallest and least significant, . I don't remember what moment of my life I remembered; I don't remember any of the other 20 accounts, but I do remember Jack's.

Jack was sailing around the Caribbean--by himself. OK, that's pretty frightening on its own. One dark, starless night as Jack was cruising along under low power in a strong natural current, out of sight from any land, Jack's boat came to a mysterious standstill. The engine remained running, the prop still turning, but Jack's boat was going nowhere. Jack cut the power and finally figured out that his boat must have hooked on to something. He took a flashlight, jumped overboard to investigate and found that the boat had snagged a transoceanic telephone cable that was being installed. Jack convinced me, that solving this problem was one of the most frightening moments of his 90 years. With some difficulty Jack was able to disentangle the boat, but, immediately the strong current set the boat moving rapidly away from him. Jack, stunned by his predicament, had no recourse but to swim fast enough to overtake his "boat without a pilot," which he did, and climb aboard. That's the type of life experience Jack brought to us.

Finally, I pose this question. I ask it as a member of Jack's Harrisonburg Unitarian Universalist community. You might ask it regarding your relationship to Jack. Why were we so lucky to have Jack? Why in all our petty disagreements about what kind of signage we displayed to show our HUU pride, or our patriotism, did Jack put up with us? What is the gift he leaves us? I know a few other veterans of foreign wars. Not many of them go to church. Many hide the unanswered questions of their experience deep in some lonely place that is filled with a mixture of shame, pride and lack of recognition. I don't pretend to understand that place. I don't judge it. I respect it.

I think Jack put up with us because he trusted us. As a scientist, he knew that in principal we would not mix our science with our faith, a concept clearly presented in a letter to the editor published in the Daily News Record, coincidentally on the same day as Jack's obituary. Bridgewater College biology professor, Sarah E. Swank states, and I am paraphrasing here, that science and faith can stand side by side, but one must not use science to prove their faith or their faith to prove science. This is a principal that touches at the foundation of many 21st century international conflicts. Jack, a scientist, wanted to have a church family. I believe we were the very best he could find. The gift Jack leaves us is that, in spite of our differences, he trusted us for what we claim to believe. We were a boat worth swimming after. I think he trusted our first principal, as much as he trusted the Marine code. If we said we believed in "the inherent worth and dignity of all people," Jack trusted that he was included; he also knew, that like the Marines, we would make some mistakes, but in the end he could trust and honor us.

I also believe that somewhere in his great imagination, Jack understood, that each of us, at one time or another, would need to dive head-first into the dark waters of our messy life to un-snag our stalled boat, only to come back up from solving the problem, only to realize that now we would have to swim harder than ever to save our own life. That makes me quite fond of this man's legacy. Thanks Jack. - Merle Wenger -


My first memory of Jack is from my second visit to HUU. He stood up in front of the congregation during announcements holding a piece of wood suffering from a serious case of dry rot, and said that he had gotten it from one of the sills under the church. He had been able to pull it out by hand without using any tools. This might, he suggested, be a problem for the next chair of Buildings and Grounds, but he was getting too old to be responsible. I was impressed by his energy and concern. -- Elinor Mondale

Jack and I were real friends. We always sat together at meetings. You know, Jack was a very intelligent person. He made his way through the Marines from recruit out of high school, to Major, a very high rank. We often talked about his "towing icebergs from the Antarctic," and anyone could see how pleased he was at receiving a patent on his idea. He met with engineers to explain his idea and talked with princes of Arabic countries in order to secure financing. His opportunity to fulfill his dream never came about, but it could happen in the future. I'll miss him at meetings.

Life’s Essence

I am one with the wind and the sea.
I am one with the earth and the sky.
I live in everything that breathes.
I am forever in the flowers and the trees
That take up my essence from the earth.
Who shall say that I must die?
My essence lives on.
I am forever. -- Lee Graham

I remember one potluck where Jack was talking about his water-iceberg solution to drought areas of our earth; several conversations were filling the air round that table, yet my ears heard only Jack's simple, brilliant ideas, inspired and truthful. I remember driving home that Sunday, visualizing implementing Mr. Jack Shick's plan immediately: who would need to be connected with which diplomats, the crews from which countries would be assembled, etc. Then, full-hearted, I realized the waves of inter-connectedness we each generate as individuals as we quest for the truth of simply sharing of our inspirations. Now when I play with the globe with my daughter, we talk about Sir Jack's plan, pretending to be shifting the giant chunks of frozen water with our lovely sea-swimming mammalian friends the whales -- giant blues, nar-whales, sperm whales, and humpbacks ALL singing in echoes of interspecies communication. I know this sounds fantastic, yet we prefer to open this planet up to all possibilities. We have deep faith that anything is possible, especially when gathered together in hearts, minds, and bodies, working together to create harmony and peace on earth. -- Lenna Keefer

Jack Shick was my friend. We would meet for lunch every two or three months. We had more in common than just both being 90. We shared a philosophy that was somewhat different from that held by many in our fellowship. We both took a somewhat jaundiced view of certain beliefs, like the brotherhood of man. We both regarded science and evolution as the basis for understanding human behavior. We shared the belief that conflict is natural to the human animal.

Jack was very loyal to the Marines, with which he served in World War II. He did not think patriotism was a bad thing, and he honored the American flag. He probably felt as I do that the military is a necessary evil in the present state of human evolution.

He tried to ingratiate himself with our fellowship. He designed and had made with his own funds the plastic holders to fit on the backs of our chairs to hold the hymnals. In time most of them broke. He served as chairman of the Building Committee early on. He found the second-hand chairs which we purchased last year.

He was especially proud of having his plan for floating icebergs to dry countries accepted by the U.S. Patent Office.

Jack was a genuine person who called a spade a spade. I will miss him. – Jim Geary