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Edward Thomas Shamy Jr.

August 17, 1958 November 27, 2021
Edward Thomas Shamy Jr.
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Obituary for Edward Thomas Shamy Jr.

Georgia - Edward T. Shamy Jr., 63, fiercely devoted husband and father and a relentlessly honest, often hilarious, chronicler of the communities he served as an award-winning journalist, would no doubt report news of his passing on the morning of Nov. 27 this way: “Let me tell you the story of how I woke up dead.”

In his wake he leaves his wife and beshert, Kim Asch; best friend and son, Ezra; a doppelganger dog, a 13-year-old cat that was growing on him, assorted siblings, in-laws, three grown children and two grandchildren in far-flung places, a towering oak tree he planted as a seedling, the last in a long line of used trucks, assorted appliances awaiting his DIY repair, and a legacy of love, adventure and laughter.

The second of four children born to parents Gloria and Edward T. Shamy Sr., Ed often said he never had the urge to write a book because his childhood was too happy. Most of his formative years were spent in the same rambling house in Westwood, N.J., playing recreational baseball, doting on his beloved dog Pepe, and feasting on his mother’s three-course dinners featuring a global menu, including favorites like kibbe and halushky, dishes passed down from both the Syrian and Eastern European branches of the family.

After the family moved to St. Louis for his junior year of high school, Ed found himself to be the new kid for the first time. His charismatic personality and hallmark self-deprecating humor quickly worked their magic, and he was elected president of the Student Government Association and voted “most humorous” at Parkway Central High School. During that time, his willingness to speak his mind and challenge the status quo was already evident when he was interviewed by “60 Minutes” in a segment titled “The Case Against College,” saying that if he had his druthers he’d skip all four years and do something else.

Ed did go to college after all, to Columbia University – in the Ivy League, his parents were always proud to point out – where he played soccer, tended bar at Hanratty’s to offset costs, and graduated with a degree in Political Science. His early adventures included a Kerouac-style hitchhiking journey across the U.S. and a Peace Corps stint in Paraguay, during which he acquired a rustic form of Spanish which served him well all his life, although he’d be the first to tell you he was (uselessly) much more fluent in Guarani.

Newspaper journalism presented the perfect outlet for Ed’s voracious curiosity, Twain-esque reportorial flair, unflinching sense of fairness and disdain for authority of any kind. He fully embraced the mission of newspapers to be the watchdog of government and to “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” He lived by the motto of one of his favorite historical figures, Sam Houston, the first and third president of the Republic of Texas, to “Do the right thing and risk the consequences.”

Ed’s career took him to various posts as reporter, editor and columnist in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Washington, D.C., Vermont and Virginia, where in 1990 he was a Pulitzer Prize finalist with a team of reporters at the Roanoke Times & World News for their coverage of the coal miners’ strike. His high standards as an editor could sometimes be maddening to the reporters on his staff, but they often later credited his coaching for improving their writing and honing their b.s. detectors. Readers responded enthusiastically to his colorful columns and incisive commentary.

It was in 1996 during his tenure as editor of the Carroll County Times in Westminster, Md., when Ed Shamy met Kim Asch, the woman who would become his wife of 23 years. She interviewed with him for a job as copy editor and he declined to hire her, thrilling her with the rejection because he demanded she keep writing and stay off the copy desk. Their paths kept crossing, as if arranged by an occult hand, and eventually their friendship became the love story of their lives. They always addressed each other by both first and last name – a term of endearment. Like everything else he did, Ed’s wooing tactics were uniquely his own, and one of their first official dates involved a lesson and demonstration in firing off potatoes with his homemade spudchucker. Two years later, the couple celebrated their wedding with a 21-spud salute and crab feast at Maryland’s Mount Tabor Park at Rocky Ridge and the Cozy Inn, a favorite with journalists who covered Presidents in retreat at nearby Camp David. Together, they spent two years working at The Washington Times, unhappily commuting along some of the nation’s most congested highways, before Ed was recruited to join the Burlington Free Press.

At The Burlington (Vt.) Free Press, where he was the metro editor and later a columnist from 1999-2008, and The County Courier, the subscription-based weekly he owned from 2008-2014, his hyper-local focus and penchant for the offbeat inspired many evocative stories about the life and times of the “real” Vermont: a dog’s near-fatal run-in with a porcupine while hiking Mt. Mansfield; a man in search of his dentures lost while skydiving over Addison County; dairy farmers who ran a major marijuana operation; a call to readers to help coin a name for the confounding icy clumps that form in your vehicle’s wheel wells over our too-long winters (“crusticle” took top place).

In Vermont, Ed found his spiritual homeland, a place where he could be uncompromisingly himself. Crusty but benign, he was not always nice but he was unfailingly kind. He and Kim bought an older “contemporary,” all angles and inexplicable additions, on five acres in the town of Georgia, and he set about shaping the “Shamyrosa” property to his whimsy, undertaking ambitious building projects with Herculean energy and conquistadorial joy with just enough knowledge to be dangerous. He bled constantly. An infamous dumpster diver, he found the garbage in life and transformed it into something useful, eye-catching and often hilarious. Ed was one of those rare people who knew how to look at trees for hours. The flash of a cardinal or a hawk overhead was all he needed for entertainment. He was a collector of animal skulls, unusual rocks, and intertwined branches that twisted together as they grew; he called these Grizeldas and incorporated them into his homemade lamps and other visionary art projects.

Of all his accomplishments, Ed’s greatest pride and delight was in being a dad. He turned out homemade marshmallow shooters as birthday party favors and collected tadpoles to send home with friends. Sunday family BBQs, even in the midst of a blizzard, were a cherished tradition, and using anything but a real charcoal grill was out of the question. With Ezra he was always present and patient and imparted his love of reading, his brilliance for writing, and his irreverent sense of humor. They got each other completely, and adored one another to the bones.

In addition to Ezra, he is survived by three adult children from his previous marriage, whom he loved with all his heart: Corinne Lawson, 37, of West Orange, N.J., (son-in-law Alex Lawson and granddaughters Elliott and Alexandra); Lillian Shamy, 35, of Charlotte, N.C.; and Alex Shamy, 32, of Brooklyn, N.Y.

Survivors also include beloved siblings Christine and brother-in-law Greg Koslosky; sister Suzanne Cuomo and brother-in-law George Sturiale, brother Matthew Shamy, and siblings-in-law Karen and Bill Lehr. He was adored by his many nieces and nephews, including confidante Gina Faiola, Kevin, Andrew, Cyrus and Luke Shamy, Rob and Julie Cuomo, and Logan and Sydney Lehr, as well as his father-in-law Stan Asch and mother-in-law Judy Brisson. And two dear friends and neighbors, Sara and Granger Vester, who had become family.

No memorial service is immediately planned. The family will come together with friends once the weather warms to celebrate Ed’s life, chuck some spuds and share stories. The family requests those who wish to express sympathy to please consider making a donation to Camp Abnaki, 298 College St., Burlington, VT 05401. Or Give - YMCA Camp Abnaki

Proud to be serving the Shamy family, is the Heald Funeral Home, were messages of condolence are welcome at www.healdfuneralhome.com

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Camp Abnaki,

298 College Street
Burlington, , VT 05401
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