James S. Schoff Jr., former president of Bloomingdale’s department store and a dedicated supporter of education, passed away peacefully on February 6, 2022, due to complications brought on by Parkinson’s disease. He was 88.
Born in Newark, N.J., his family moved to Chicago when he was very young, and then on to New York City. After graduating from Deerfield Academy, he went on to Cornell University. It was in a German class that he met Joanna Newton Haab of Upper Darby, Pa. They were married the year after they graduated, on February 11, 1956, and enjoyed a loving and nearly 66-year marriage.
For close to sixty years, he lived in Pelham, N.Y. and then in Rye, N.Y., raising a family and building a successful career in merchandising that included helping to lead Bloomingdale’s during some of its most dynamic years. After starting in the retail business in Chicago with Marshall Field, Mr. Schoff came to New York with Bloomingdale’s and rose in the ranks through the home furnishings department to become a buyer, divisional merchandising manager, and then general merchandising manager. He was named president in 1978 and oversaw an expansion of stores outside of New York, as well as a series of high-profile international shows involving India, China, and other countries.
After retiring in 1984, he applied his managerial and people skills as an elected member of the Pelham Public School Board. He served as president of Deerfield Academy’s board of trustees from 1989 to 1995, and with his wife later endowed a scholarship fund to support students and faculty involved in international programs.
An avid gardener and fly fisherman, Jim enjoyed time with his friends and family at a second home in Morrisville, Vt. for 35 years, where they spent most of the summer and fall. He pursued his love of choral music by singing baritone for several years in choirs at Huguenot Memorial Church in Pelham and Rye Presbyterian Church. He also sang at the Berkshire Choral Festival and served on its board.
Most of all Jim Schoff loved his family. He is survived by his wife Joanna, his three children, James Schoff of McLean, Va., Liz Garrett of Rye, and Susan Waschak of Brookfield, Conn.; and six grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held Saturday, February 12 at 12 p.m. at Rye Presbyterian Church. Donations may be made to the music program at the church.