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Rocky Mountain News (CO) – Friday, August 12, 2005
Author/Byline: Clayton Woullard , Rocky Mountain News
Edition: Final
Section: Business
Page: 11B
Generosity wasn’t just a philosophy for John Schrant.

It was his way of life.

Whether it was greeting visitors at the bus station or guiding students along their paths – doling out pumpkin seeds as rewards for good work – he was trying to help someone.

“He truly loved people and lived that on a daily basis,” said his son Tom Schrant. “Dad wasn’t a rich guy, but he gave away what he could.”

John Schrant died July 5 in Denver. He was 89.

Mr. Schrant spent at least 40 hours a week for 20 years volunteering at the downtown Greyhound Bus station, up until the weeks before his death. He would greet newcomers and help them get where they needed to go. He did the same at Stapleton Airport for years until it closed.

His benevolence toward travelers was so well-known that some guidebooks wrote of “Big John” as the go-to guy when you got to Denver.

But beyond helping others, Schrant was making new friends every day.

“I don’t know how there was enough capacity in his body for the big heart he had,” said friend Darold Bobier. “I don’t think he ever met a person that wasn’t a friend.”

He was born May 30, 1916, in Hutchinson, Kan., to a Quaker mother and a father who worked as a physician until he was almost 90 years old.

Mr. Schrant spread his love for teaching through his family. The family – including his son Jim, his late mother, Edith, his son Andy, an assistant principal at North High School, and other family members on both sides – has more than 200 years of service in the Denver Public Schools.

Mr. Schrant attended Colorado State Teacher’s College in Greeley, now the University of Northern Colorado, on an athletic scholarship. There, he discovered two loves: teaching and his wife, Edith.

He worked at DPS elementary schools as a teacher for more than 20 years until he began work as a guidance counselor at Abraham Lincoln High School. That time would prove to be short.

Mr. Schrant asked Bobier, his supervisor at the time, to be transferred to East High School, which was boiling in the turmoil of court- ordered integration in the early 1970s.

“He asked to go there to see if he could bring people together,” said Jim Schrant.

“He was always wanting to go where there was a need. Almost like a firefighter, he saw a fire that needed assistance.”

Mr. Schrant continued to work at East until the late 1970s when he asked to be transferred to Skinner Middle School because he wanted to be able to walk to school with his wife. The couple decided during one of those walks that they would get the names of the students they would be working with during the school year and visit them and their parents at home.

And they did just that.

“I always heard parents and students commenting on that, about how much they appreciated that,” Jim Schrant said.

Upon retiring in 1984, Mr. Schrant began volunteering full time as a greeter at the bus station and Stapleton.

His son Jim said it was a way for his father to repay the generosity he received from foreigners on the family’s numerous trips to countries around the world. The whole family would take trips by freight ship and usually camp in the countries they visited.

Mr. Schrant is survived by five sons, Jim, Tom and Bob Schrant, all of Arvada, Ken Schrant, of Gill, and Mike Schrant, of Denver; a daughter, Nancy Schrant Lankenau, of Golden; eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Edith.


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