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Francis J. Shema
Chief Warrant Officer, United States Navy
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From a contemporary press report:

Francis J. Shema, 83, a retired Navy Chief Warrant Officer who later served 20 years as an inspector with the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission, died of congestive heart failure October 12, 2002, at the Leewood Health Center in Alexandria, Virginia.

CWO Shema served 20 years in the Navy, beginning in 1937, and his career included duty during World War II and the Korean War.

In 1942, he was aboard a Navy gunship that was torpedoed and sunk by a German submarine off the coast of Curacao in the Netherlands Antilles. He was fished from the water, oil-covered and unconscious, by a Dutch patrol boat, and eventually returned to his native Dixon City, Pennsylvania, where his parents had been told he was "lost at sea."

He arrived home just in time for his own memorial service, which, like the fictional Huckleberry Finn, he was able to attend. In later years he loved to regale friends and relatives with his account of how his mother thought she'd seen a ghost when she first saw him there.

Other Navy assignments included tours in China, Australia, Occupied Japan, South America and Washington. He had lived in this area for 50 years.

From 1962 to 1982 CWO Shema was an inspector with the WSSC. He was active in Democratic Party politics in Prince George's County and was an elections judge at polling stations in Marlow Heights.

Since 1977 he had lived in Alexandria.

Survivors include his wife of 59 years, Elizabeth E. Shema of Alexandria; three children, Michael F. Shema of Las Vegas, Christopher P. Shema of Terre Haute, Indiana, and Stephanie Shema Thomas of Fort Washington; a brother, a sister and five grandchildren.


On October 12, 2002 at Leewood Nursing Home, FRANCIS SHEMA, husband of 59 years to Elizabeth E. Shema. Father of Michael Francis Shema of Las Vegas, Nevada; Stephanie Shema Thomas of Ft. Washington, Maryland; Christopher P. Shema of Terra Haute, Indiana, and the late John Richard Shema. He is also survived by a brother, Michael Belensky, of Allentown, Pennsylvania; sister, Mary Ann Guthrie of Parma Heights, Ohio and five grandchildren, Jamie, Jesse, Jennifer, Kathryn and Aaron.

Interment Arlington National Cemetery at a later date. In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial contributions be made to Hospice of Northern Virginia, 6565 Arlington Blvd., Suite 500, Falls Church, Virginia 22042.


Posted: 22 December 2002  Updated: 23 February 2004