What of the
From Returned Missionaries
News report on Elder Norman Shumway
Recordnet.com News, 17 January 2013
Too busy to retire: Decades after leaving politics, Shumway travels world, By Kevin Parrish, January 16, 2013, Record Staff Writer
Norm Shumway long ago left Stockton, the city of his youth, the launching pad for his political career and the foundation of his faith.
But not really.
At 78, the six-time congressman's life - as a worldwide ambassador for the Mormon Church - still draws on the lessons learned as a child of the 1940s growing up in Stockton.
"I'm just an ordinary guy," said Shumway, who as a boy delivered The Record for a nickel, skated on a homemade apple-box scooter and became something of a marbles sharpshooter among his friends.
He wore a felt beanie full of buttons, many of them with political messages. And as Shumway grew older, he grew spiritually in the Stockton Ward.
Today, he owns a home in Bountiful, Utah, and is hardly retired. Shumway remains devoted to the missionary call of Mormonism.
His life of public service - four years as San Joaquin County supervisor followed by 12 years in the U.S. House of Representatives - ended in 1990, almost a generation ago. "I always enjoyed making law more than practicing it," said Shumway, who received his law degree from University of California's Hastings law school in San Francisco.
Since leaving Congress, he and Luana, his wife of 52 years, have traveled the globe, visiting every continent, including Antarctica. They have most frequently visited Japan (11 trips as a congressman) and are in training this week for their third church assignment to the Land of the Rising Sun.
They keep up with local developments via the Internet.
"I still feel very attached," Shumway said. "I'm concerned about Stockton's bankruptcy and the high rate of crime. I'm interested in what's happening. I still have a lot of friends. I spent so much of my life there."
Evidence of his longstanding ties to the region occurred a couple of years ago while standing in a cafeteria line at Princeton University in New Jersey.
The Shumways were hungry after attending a conference on campus. While waiting, they were chatting about the son of Jasbir and Parampal Gill, two Lodi political supporters from years ago. They knew he was a student at Princeton, but figured the odds of seeing him were unimaginable.
"Hey, Norm Shumway," they heard from the back of the line as undergraduate Ricky Gill recognized his parents' friends and walked up.
That coincidental meeting played a role in Gill's decision last year to challenge Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton, for the newly drawn 9th Congressional District seat. Shumway mentored and campaigned for Gill in his unsuccessful Republican bid.
Shumway was ordained an elder in 1953 shortly before graduating from Stockton College, the forerunner for San Joaquin Delta College. His 31/2-year mission assignment: Japan. That was his first trip. In 1966, Shumway was ordained high priest, a Mormon Church position of spiritual and administrative service.
His life has been circuitous and exciting in the extremes.
In 1991, he was appointed by then-Gov. Pete Wilson to the California Public Utilities Commission and then to the state parole board. For that position, he and Luana moved from Stockton to Pacifica. Shumway commuted to San Francisco for four years.
"Then the church, which thrives on volunteer participation, asked us to go to Japan."
Shumway was president of the Japan Hiroshima Mission from 1996 to 1999. He and Luana had barely arrived home in the United States from that responsibility when the Mormon Church sent him back, this time to Tokyo, to be a regional public-affairs director.
By the early 2000s, the couple thought they were going to settle down, buying their home in a suburban neighborhood north of Salt Lake City.
"At last we left the ranks of the homeless," Shumway writes in a self-published autobiography, "Times and Seasons of Norman D. Shumway." Copies of the book are available at University of the Pacific and at the Stockton-San Joaquin Public Library.
But the church wasn't through with the former Republican congressman from a family of Democrats.
He and Luana were appointed to the position of official hosting couple for dignitaries visiting Salt Lake City.
After that, they were sent as church representatives to the United Nations, spending 18 months in Manhattan.
"We walked to work together across the southern end of Central Park," Shumway says fondly of their time in New York City. "We went to Lincoln Center and enjoyed our neighborhood.
"But the U.N. is powerless and inefficient. It's an anemic organization that hasn't changed since World War II. It's kind of pathetic and not really relevant in the world today."
In the midst of that, Shumway, often understandably nervous, was able to exercise his musical talent. Alongside Broadway performers, he was the organist for the church in Manhattan's First Ward.
He and Luana, 77, next spent two years involved in Mormon leadership development near Boston. In October, they finally returned to Bountiful, wondering if they were getting too old to serve.
"We got home, and I received an email from church leaders in Tokyo, wondering if we'd like to be service leaders in the temple," Shumway says. The couple is packing for another 18 months abroad. "We jumped at the chance."
In his autobiography, Shumway writes with gratitude about the opportunities he and Luana have had. And the choices they've made.
"My dear companion has reminded me often that she and I have been blessed with an interesting life."
Contact reporter Kevin Parrish at (209) 546-8264 or [email protected]
Charles Shumway (1806-1898) joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1841 and was one of the first pioneers to enter the Salt Lake Valley. For awhile, he was bodyguard to Joseph Smith, considered the founder and prophet by adherents. Former Rep. Norm Shumway, R-Stockton, is his great great grandson.
Norm and Luana Shumway have six children and 34 grandchildren.
Advice for Stockton
"We've all been ravaged somewhat by the economy," said former Republican congressman Norm Shumway. "We have to suffer together and ride it out." He still keeps up on Stockton-area news and offers the following advice:
• Bankruptcy: Be more careful about spending. Work toward a balanced budget. Keep taxes down.
• Crime and violence: Develop and foster ties within families. Parents should be an example to their kids. If enough people would pay attention to moral precepts, we'd see change in America.