John J. Shuster

Born in Howells, Nebraska on September 2, 1930 John Junior Shuster passed away peacefully with his family at his side on November 9, 2012 at Invinson Memorial hospital in Laramie, Wyoming. 

Until the past few years he was identifiable by his purposeful walk; his innovate, big picture view of life that resulted in cutting edge solutions; his strong Christian fate; his delight in helping others. 

John was the fourth son of John and Gladys Shuster and spent most of his childhood on farms in Western Nebraska. He graduated from Gordon High School and attended Creighton University in Omaha.

 In 1951 he married the love of his life Janice McGaughey. Over the next thirteen years they had four children: Gwen Shuster-Haynes (Mark Haynes) of Denver, Colorado; Lowell (Rose) of Kent, Washington; Bryan (Pam) of Laramie; Rob (Lori) of Casa Grande, Arizona.

Drafted into the US Army during the Korean Conflict, he served in Anti-Aircraft Artillery from 1952 to 1954 at Ft. Wadsworth, New York. With his service completed he returned to Western Nebraska where his brother and he owned grocery stores. After they sold the stores, he searched for grocery store opportunities in college towns so his four children could easily attend college. In 1967 he chose Laramie, Wyoming. 

As President and CEO of a Wyoming corporation, and with relative and grocery investors, the organization purchased two existing grocery stores and renamed them Ideal Foods. A third store was added later. In 1977 the corporation closed the smaller stores and opened the large, state-of-the-art Ideal Foods on North 4th Street. The store helped organizations large and small fund-raise dollars through the free use of their Wieney Wagon and supported all range of causes from Little League Baseball to the 4-H FFA sale at the Albany County Fairgrounds. 

An innovator in life and business he was wise enough to realize that moving from an idea to a result required a strong team and teamwork. Ideal Foods was the first grocery store in the state, and the second in the Rocky Mountain region, to use grocery scanners. He mentored dozens. The result: entrepreneurs and business people throughout the region. 

An avid University of Wyoming football and basketball fan since moving to Laramie, he always tried to good-humoredly convince Janice that it was a “wifely duty” to attend all home football games until she rebelled and set a minimum game-time temperature. In return, John attended University plays and concerts with Janice.

One special outcome of his love of Wyoming football was the life-long relationship that began when foster football son Fred Ulowetz arrived in Laramie. Fred, his wife Denice and children live in Marysville, Washington.

Card playing, especially bridge and ten-point pitch, were passions. He often told his children and grandchildren that any bid lower than seven points was a wuss bid. John often bid nine, ten or moon hands – and made them more times than believably possible. 

Travel, work, being a good citizen, and building several kit cars and backyard landscaping that included a farmyard complete with white-picket fence and cement animal statues provided hours of pleasure for his children and grandchildren.

His willingness to try new activities included taking up downhill skiing after back surgery in his 50s and he added to his range of philanthropic service after retirement when he joined the board of the Wyoming Presbytery and served as the state’s moderator.

John believed in community involvement and his civic and philanthropic activities over the years were varied and many involved decade-long commitments. His service included: the Wyoming Technology Business Center board from conception through realization; a 32-year member of the Cathedral Home for Children Board; a founding Director and Director Emeritus of Laramie Economic Development Corporation; member and Elder of the United Presbyterian Church of Laramie; Laramie Chamber of Commerce member and past LCC president; original Bank of Laramie board of directors; multi-decade member of the Laramie Rotary Club, and others too numerous to mention. 

He co-chaired the Albany United Way campaign with his wife Janice. He received the Boomerang/Lions Club Community Service Award, the Chamber of Commerce Top Hand award and the Chamber’s Business Person of the year award, in addition to many other community awards.

John attended many local, regional and national conferences on various aspects of the food industry. He served on the board of Associated Grocers and received regional and national grocery awards.

A born optimist, John was a firm believer in innovate businesses, the wonderfulness of the Laramie community and the strength of family. He liked superior customer service, quality merchandise, sparkling clean stores, inviting front ends, well faced shelves, bold and artistic displays, and events that created a WOW factor. He disliked customers having to carry out their own groceries, cluttered counters, gum chewing cashiers, insufficient fund checks, and shoplifters.

He is survived by his wife of 61 years Janice, his sister Darlene Barker, his children: Gwen, Lowell, Bryan and Rob and their spouses; grandchildren: Alexis, Bobby, Sarah and Andrew Haynes; Zachary and Kathleen Shuster; Minden Fox (Shane), Megan Gottschalk (TJ), Micah Shuster (Holly); Kaleigh and Josh Shuster; six great-grandchildren with a seventh expected this month. In addition sister-in-laws Maxine Elder, Donna Shuster, Geraldine Shuster, Dorothy Nielsen, Ruth Nielsen, and Virginia McGaughey.

Funeral services were held at the United Presbyterian Church on Tuesday, November 13 with the Reverend Dr. Jason Harshberger.

Visitation was held Monday November 12 at the Montgomery-Stryker Funeral Home.

In lieu of flowers memorials may be made to Cathedral Home for Children, PO Box 520, Laramie, Wyoming 82073 or United Presbyterian Church, 215 South 11th Street, Laramie, Wyoming 82070.

Last modified onMonday, 19 November 2012 12:11

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