Remembering and thanking Mr. John Shuff
Updated: Aug 5
Gratitude from one reporter - and one generation - to another but just a little too late
I currently have 32 things on my iPhone Notes To-Do list. Some items are much more important than others.
In the middle of the list, I have the word Shuff.
I have the word Shuff on my list because I have been meaning to sit down and write a note to a man named John Shuff.
Sometime during the spring coronavirus quarantine, in between virtual learning sessions for my three young kiddos and never-ending meals and snack times for those same three kiddos, I had maybe one quick free moment to open a magazine. I chose Boca Raton, of course. It was the March 2020 issue.
I perused the engaging articles and photos featuring Boca’s best restaurants and leaders doing great things. I took a peek at the community highlights, the people pics, the movers and shakers. And I paused, as I always do at "My Turn" - the piece at the end of every Boca Raton magazine edition - the piece written by Boca Raton owner and JES Media Founder John Shuff that teaches us all a little something about family, friends, community and life.
It’s the piece my mom often ripped out (she had a "My Turn" keeper file... she had many keeper files!). "My Turn" was the piece that always left you thinking. The one that usually left you with a tear or two down your cheek. The one that made you smile, cry, sometimes laugh, but always stop and think.
This 2020 March “My Turn” piece touched me more than most, which says a lot cause they all have been pretty powerful. It touched me because it was a summary of Mr. Shuff’s past year’s medical challenges (just one of many years of medical challenges) coupled with questions about whether he has done enough…. whether he has made an impact and his wondering what’s next as his “sand in the hourglass started sifting to the bottom,” as he put it.
The Shuff’s have been longtime friends of my parents. Dear friends that did so much together through the years. They had a tribe - an old Boca core group of friends who supported charities since their inception like Boca Raton Community Hospital (now Boca Raton Regional Hospital), Boca Raton Historical Society and so many more. Many of these husbands and wives helped Boca Raton become the Boca we now know and love. And the Boca Raton magazine highlighted it all – documented it all – recorded it all.
Once all of us kids came along, we got to join in on the fun enjoying events and family gatherings, countless Thanksgivings and boat parade parties. Our parents worked together, gave back together, traveled together, celebrated babies and birthdays, weddings and holidays. Today, they are all grandparents together, enjoying… and reflecting during this phase of life.
Through it all, Mr. Shuff was a constant. Steady, solid, smart. Like my dad, I'm pretty sure he could be as tough as he was sweet. I don’t remember conversations with him from when I was young but I remember conversations from my college years and beyond - when my interest in journalism began. He would chat with me about internships and storytelling, about his magazines including Boca Raton, Salt Lake City (the premier magazine of the Mountainwest), Delray Beach and Mizner's Dream. And when I started anchoring and reporting for television news, we had even more to discuss.
What I remember most though is the family time...the dads sitting around chatting about whatever it was they were chatting about while the moms did the same. Partying at our weddings, celebrating their grandchildren, dancing with their daughters…
For decades, these parents were the steady rocks who helped us along the way. And now, as we flip the roles and help take care of them, we wish we had more time to thank them for what they taught us and for what they did in life for us… and for others.
My dad has just recently reached the wheelchair stage of life – a life Mr. Shuff has known for years fighting Multiple Sclerosis.
I have reached my caretaking stage of life (first for my dear mom who has passed, and now for my dad) – a life Mrs. Margaret Mary Shuff has known for decades. She is the angel who was never far from her husband’s side, even in his final moments of life.
I look up to all of these folks - all of our folks - now more than I ever have.
Which is why I should have acted quickly on that Shuff item on my to do list... why I wish I sat my bottom down and wrote the note I intended to write to let Mr. Shuff know that I am so grateful for their family and all the others who made us feel like family and that I’m thankful they created an award-winning magazine for one of America’s best cities.
I’d tell him that he did make an impact on me, on my family and on our community. I’d thank him for sharing his words, thoughts, life lessons, love, family and heart with us. I’d tell him that I wish he would put all those “My Turns” into a book... and from one reporter to another, I’d tell him that he made a difference more than he will ever know.
To read more about the life and accomplishments of John Shuff, click here for a full obituary courtesy of Boca Raton magazine.
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