First person: Scout for life

CNJ staff photo: Kevin Wilson John Schoonover of Clovis came here from Phildelphia via the military, and has been involved in scouting for nearly 58 years.

John Schonberger’s busiest time of the year is the first half of April, when tax time comes up.

One of the long-time accountant’s favorite times of year is when it’s time to promote Boy Scouts to Eagle Scout, the organization’s highest rank. Schonberger is currently the district advancement and recognition chairman for the El Llano Grande District of Boy Scouts of America.

Schonberger, 71, is an experienced accountant, a more experienced scout and prefers the small-town feel of Clovis to the bustle of his native Philadelphia.

Upbringing: I left when I was 21 to go into the service. I went through Catholic schools. I went through grade school, high school. I was in high school band at LaSalle High.

It’s so huge that (in) football, you’ve got a Catholic league and a public league. They never did have a championship. There are 160 schools in Philly. Those were all-boys schools.

I went to college (at St. Joseph’s, prior to follow-up degrees at the University of North Dakota and Eastern New Mexico University), and I was in cadet band. I became cadet band commander. I was in a dance band and a Polish-American string band and the Mummers Parade. The Mummers Parade is an eight-hour parade, three sections. When I was in there, I played alto sax. I played clarinet, too. I started out with the clarinet.

I retired here. I was here in 1973, that’s when I arrived. At Cannon, I was a management analysis officer. I retired as a major in 1983.

Why accounting? It was my major in high school and college. Crunching numbers, I love it. You put the number in here, and the consequence comes out the other end. It’s amazing what numbers can tell you, just like “The Deck of Cards” (written in 1948 by “T.” Tex Tyler and recorded by Tex Ritter).

Roles with Boy Scouts: The main thing is to hold boards of review for Eagle Scouts, to make sure they meet the standards. I chair the committee. That’s forwarded to council and the national (office).

What I have had was about every position in scouting … Cub master, scout master. I am just completing 58 years of scouting.

Becoming an Eagle Scout: I was high on a cloud. It meant to me, the cream of the crop of the United States, I was a member of the cream. It meant I’m an ambassador of my nation to other nations. That’s what it meant to me, and that’s how I look at boys coming up for Eagle.

The general rule, as I look at it, is a lot of men helped me, and I have to pay it back, so I pay it back by helping others. I’ll stay in scouting until I die.

I’ve got five kids, three boys. They’re all Eagle, and I’m Eagle.

Reasons to stay in Clovis: The lack of hustle and bustle of the big cities, the friendliness, the open spaces, lack of claustrophobia like in Philadelphia.

In the east coast, it seems like the attitude is, “Hooray for me, the heck with you, get out of my way, I’m coming through.” That’s the way I look at it.

— Compiled by CNJ staff writer Kevin Wilson