Reverend Joseph O. Schell, S.J., a legendary Jesuit presence at John Carroll University, died on April 25, 2008, at the age of 93. He served as the university president from 1967 to 1970 and was the founder and shaping force of John Carroll’s Campus Ministry program.
Father Schell was born in Jackson, Michigan, in 1914 and grew up in Lakewood, Ohio. He entered the Society of Jesus after graduating from Lakewood High School in 1931. He was ordained a priest in 1944 and came to John Carroll University as a young instructor of philosophy in 1946. He retired to the Jesuit retirement community, Colombiere Center, in Clarkston, Michigan, in July 2004.
For 58 years Father Schell was the embodiment of the tradition and values of a Jesuit Catholic education at John Carroll University. During his many decades as a professor of philosophy at John Carroll, Father Schell played a formative role in developing the cognitive skills of generations of John Carroll students.
National figures such as NBC’s Tim Russert, John Carroll class of 1972, and Hall of Fame football coach Don Shula, John Carroll class of 1951, have long given the Jesuit logician credit for teaching them “how to think.” Those comments have been so frequently echoed by other alumni that decades ago Father Schell became firmly established as both a contemporary model of excellence in the classroom and a leading exemplar of the nearly 500-year-old tradition of Jesuit education.
John Carroll board member, namesake of the university’s business school, and long-time friend of Father Schell’s, John Boler, John Carroll class of 1956, reflected, “It has been a privilege to have such a long association with Father Schell. This humble man had an exceptional mind, approachable demeanor, and always made time for others. Fr. Schell epitomized all that is good about a Jesuit Catholic education. I was blessed to know him.”
Father Schell was equally renowned as a spiritual counselor. Former faculty member Dr. Jennifer Cutler-Merritt said several years ago: “His whole sense of peace and angelic nature has had a big impact on me in terms of bringing me peace. To this day, he is someone that I always turn to with thought, reflections, questions, everything.”
Father Schell will also be remembered as a remarkable repository of memory for the institution and the people who moved through it during his many decades on campus. He was famous for greeting someone by name after not having seen him or her for three or four decades.
Father Schell is survived by his sister, Bettymarie Morrison, and many nieces and nephews, and dear friends.
Visitation will be held at The Church of the Gesu in University Heights, Ohio, on Thursday, May 1, from 4-8 p.m. and on Friday, May 2, from 9 a.m.–8 p.m. The Funeral Mass will be held at The Church of the Gesu on Saturday, May 3, at 10 a.m.
In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made in Father Schell’s name to John Carroll University’s Advancement Division, where a memorial fund has been created in his name. The endowment will benefit, in perpetuity, Campus Ministry at John Carroll University.
Visit www.jcu.edu for more information or to sign the online guestbook.