John Schott, former Dignity president, 70

John “Scotty” Schott, a longtime leader of the local LGBT Catholic community, died of a heart attack April 20.

Schott was a dedicated member of Dignity/USA, an organization that unites LGBT Catholics, since the 1970s, and his leadership helped bring visibility to the group from religious and mainstream organizations throughout the world.

Schott was born June 25, 1938, in Shenandoah. He was involved with the Boy Scouts as a child, and eventually earned his Eagle Scout ranking. His sister, Ginny Roberts, said Schott held the record as the most-decorated Eagle Scout in their region for 25 years.

After he graduated from high school in 1955, Schott spent three years in the U.S. Navy and then another five in the Air Force Reserves, receiving honorable discharges from both.

While still in the Air Force, Schott pursued his bachelor’s degree in psychology and philosophy from St. Joseph’s University, which he attained in 1963. He later earned his master’s degree in public administration from Temple University, in 1983.

Schott taught courses at both Girard College and Temple University High School before being hired by the City of Philadelphia’s personnel department in 1975.

Schott spent more than 30 years with the city, working as a training and development specialist, personnel analyst, training consultant and training director before he retired in December 2006.

David Kalinowski, president of Dignity/Philadelphia, said Schott’s long-term commitment to his work was also evident in his involvement with Dignity. Schott spent time as a board member of the national organization and served as president of the local chapter from 1989-91 and also from 2005-06, amassing a long string of accomplishments.

Schott created the Deo Gratias Award to recognize local Dignity members for their outstanding service to the organization; initiated the chapter’s Rite of Holy Union for same-sex couples; spearheaded the group’s Emmaus Outreach program, which provided resources for the sick and homebound; and instituted “Gay and Lesbian Catholics Claiming Their Birthright,” an educational program designed as a response to the antigay 1986 proclamation by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.

He also served as Dignity’s international liaison, a position that Kalinowksi said Schott used to strengthen Dignity’s role in the international Catholic community.

“Scotty was the one who stayed in touch with all of the Catholic organizations throughout the world,” Kalinowski said. “He had contacts in England, Australia, all over the world. He was the person that kept Dignity within the United States connected with people all over the world.”

Kalinowski noted that Schott was an effortless leader who was well-known within the Dignity community for his “parliamentary skills” and ability to successfully run a meeting.

“He knew ‘Robert’s Rules of Order’ like the back of his hand,” Kalinowski said.

Roberts said her brother’s communication skills also extended into his personal life.

“He knew about everything; there wasn’t a topic that you could bring up with him that he couldn’t discuss,” Roberts said. “He could talk about just anything, and would always bring his humor into the conversation.”

Kalinowski also praised Schott’s innate ability to hold an enlightening discussion.

“When you had a conversation with Scotty, it was always very stimulating. He’d make you think of things that you wouldn’t normally think about,” he said. “And he could have a very, very deep conversation with you, but at the end of it would always have something humorous to say to sum it up. You could always get a good laugh out of a conversation with him.”

Kalinowski said Schott was also an avid train buff who would “travel to anywhere by train. He could tell you what any kind of locomotive was, whether it was a steam engine or something else.”

Although Schott chose a career in personnel management, Roberts said her brother also had a flair for art, having drawn numerous professional-caliber architectural designs, and was a skilled harmonica player.

“I used to say when we were younger that God gave him all the gifts,” she said. “As I’ve aged, I see that we make our own gifts, which is what he did.”

Besides Roberts, Schott is survived by another sister, Nancy McGuckian; brothers Kenneth and Dennis Schott; several nieces and nephews; and many friends.

Friends and family will host a memorial service to celebrate Schott’s life at 1:30 p.m. June 13 in the main sanctuary of The Church of St. Luke and The Epiphany, 330 S. 13th St.

Jen Colletta can be reached at [email protected].