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The Daily Tar Heel

Tears, Laughter Mark `Shu' Service

The service's seven speakers, whose relation to Shumaker varied from student to colleague to son, shared their personal experiences and lessons learned from their old mentor.

"Each speaker knew Jim in a different way," said Richard Cole, the dean of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication. "People will leave the service with a better understanding of who Jim Shumaker truly was."

Tim McLaurin, a professor at N.C. State University and former student of Shumaker, said the late professor's identity could be found in the unique contradictions of his personality.

"Here was a real man, a man's man, a man that cursed and drank and smoked -- although he did give up two of those things," McLaurin said with a laugh. "But he could also write a paragraph that could perfectly reflect public thought."

UNC journalism Professor Chuck Stone, a longtime colleague and friend of Shumaker, said the late professor was instrumental in advancing the careers of many journalists. "We all share the blessing of living in his greatness for a small span of time enhanced by a great love."

But even the most serious memories were laced with humor, recounting a man who students said often shunned traditional academic learning in favor of real-life experience.

"It's ironic that someone who was such a great teacher contributed so much to his students' academic downfall," said former student Amy Piniak, who is now teaching Shumaker's news writing class. Piniak referred fondly to skipping class to share long hours of learning with Shumaker.

Stone bluntly pointed out that the professor would have objected to the praise being heaped upon him at the service.

"Jim hated all kinds of ceremonies," Stone said. "About tonight, he would have exclaimed, 'what a bunch of 'expletive deleted.' But this time we have the last word. So Jim, if you're sitting up there editing God's manuscripts, please be still."

Jim Jenkins, an editorial page editor at the News & Observer who has known Shumaker for nearly 20 years, said each speaker made a unique contribution to the event. "I thought every speaker said what was perfect for each of their memories with Jim," he said. "They told many stories -- good stories that Jim would have enjoyed."

The line of speakers concluded with Shumaker's son Karl, whose voice did not waver as a brief power surge covered the crowd in darkness. "Dad gave us pride, he gave that to all of us," he said while holding back tears. "When he spoke, you didn't ever forget it."

The University Editor can be reached at udesk@unc.edu.

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