Josephine Miles Schuman

Josephine Miles Schuman

1930 – 2021

PHIPPSBURG – Josephine Miles Schuman, 90, died in Phippsburg, on March 17, 2021. She was born in Kengtung, Burma, of medical missionary parents, Max Duffield Miles, MD, and Margaret Bailey Miles, MSW. The family returned to live in North Scituate, Mass., when Jo was 1 year old.

Jo grew up in a loving family that fostered her interests in art and the natural world. She loved spending time in the woods, drawing and painting, and carpentry projects. She made a bookcase while in high school, the first of some 14 over her lifetime. A family friend introduced her to the islands around Vinalhaven, Maine, and summer visits there made a lasting impression on her. Jo attended Scituate schools until she left for Antioch College in 1948.

While working on a co-op job at the Art Institute of Chicago, she met and fell in love with Howard Schuman. He became an Antioch student also, and they married in 1951. They came from very different backgrounds and because of this greatly enriched each other’s lives. They shared liberal and pacifist persuasions and a love of literature. They graduated in 1953. Howard was drafted into the army and Jo joined him in San Antonio, Texas, where he was stationed at the Brook Army Medical Center, and Jo taught nursery school. Her first son, Marc, was born there. From Texas they moved to Cambridge, Mass. where Howard was in graduate school at Harvard, and two more children, Elisabeth and David, were born.

Howard’s research took the family to East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) in 1963. They lived in the city of Dacca for 18 months. Jo taught nursery school while there. On their return to the United States they moved to Ann Arbor, Mich. Jo taught art in the public schools there for 13 years, and obtained her M.A. in Art from the University of Michigan. In 1981 her book “Art From Many Hands, Multicultural Art Projects” was published. It has been used by art teachers all over the country for some 40 years and remains in print today.

Jo left teaching in 1985 in order to pursue her own art. Her many woodcuts were created from drawings and paintings done on Talbot’s Island off Vinalhaven. This tiny island, which she bought with a college friend, was a place of peace and inspiration all her adult life. Working on her art in the winters, she loved the feeling of the wood, and the craft of cutting the board. Her prints kept the beauty of the island landscapes close to her. The prints were carried in galleries on Vinalhaven, North Haven, and later in Brunswick.

After 30 years in Ann Arbor, Mich. Howard and Jo retired to Phippsburg. Jo made a studio in the barn and began work illustrating children’s books that she had written. She enjoyed working in her gardens, raising organic vegetables and a bountiful stand of high bush blueberries. She also co-chaired the Phippsburg Conservation Commission for three years. In that capacity she created “Some Common Invasive Plants in Phippsburg and How to Identify and Control Them”. She also helped with the vernal pool classes and field trips at the Phippsburg Elementary School. She served on the board of the Phippsburg Land Trust for several years.

Jo loved birds and kept her feeders full all winter. She enjoyed daily walks in the woods with her husband and dogs. She loved the trees, plants, and woodland creatures. In 2010 she and her cousin, Joanna Bailey Hodgman, edited and wrote the introduction to “A Spicing of Birds”, “Poems by Emily Dickinson”, published by Wesleyan University Press.

Most of all Jo loved her husband and children. Howard and Jo lived together for some 70 years, and they shared a love of travel, life in a developing country, political activism, concerts and theater, and daily walks. With her children she tried to foster the unique talents of each, and in her later years she learned a great deal from them as they shared with her their wonderful pursuits in science, literature, music and art. She was very grateful for the help they gave her in finishing her final book, “Toad and the Boy”, a picture book, that she hoped would give children an appreciation of smaller creatures and their lives in the natural world.

She was preceded in death by her parents, Max Duffield Miles and Margaret Bailey Miles; her brother, Matthew Bailey Miles and sister-in-law Betty Miles, her brother, Paul Robison Miles; and her nephew Mark Duffield Miles.

She is survived by her husband, Howard Schuman; son, Marc Robert Schuman of San Francisco, daughter, Elisabeth Schuman, of Camden, son, David Wade Schuman and his wife Kate Javens of New York City. She is also survived by Carol Miles, wife of her late brother Paul, of Scituate, Mass.; nieces Deb Miles and her husband Steve Prentice, of Norwell, Mass., Amy and her husband Rod MacDonald of East Hampton, Conn., Sara Miles and her wife Martha Baer of San Francisco, Ellen Miles and her companion Wayne Ridley of Barnard, Vt., and nephew David Baker Miles and his wife Deb Dwyer, of Montpelier, Vt., Judy Miles, wife of her late nephew Mark, of Juneau, Alaska; grandnieces, Katie Miles, Margaret Miles, Sophie Miles, Skye Prentice, and Kimberly Miles and grandnephew, Andrew Miles.

A remembrance of Jo will be held at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests that Jo’s friends engage in birdwatching activities, especially during the month of May.

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