Sydney Shuman Sunday, August 3, 2008
Sydney Shuman, 92, a longtime Veterans Affairs official who served as chairman of the
Board of Veterans' Appeals from 1974 to 1981, died July 15 at the Veterans Affairs
Medical Center in Washington. He had complications of a stroke and other ailments.
Mr. Shuman, who joined what was then known as the Veterans Administration after
fighting in World War II, received three presidential appointments to the Board of
Veterans' Appeals, which reviews benefit claims. In 1970, President Richard M. Nixon
named him a federal judge of the Board of Veterans' Appeals. Ten months later, Nixon
made him vice chairman. President Gerald R. Ford named Mr. Shuman board chairman
in 1974. He received two awards for exceptional service before retiring in 1981.
Mr. Shuman was born in Ridge, Md., and grew up in Washington, where he graduated
from Western High School (1933). He received a bachelor's degree and a law degree
(1940), both from George Washington University. In 1940, he also passed the D.C. bar
exam, married and went to work for the Social Security Administration in Baltimore.
During World War II, he served in the Navy. He attended communications school at
Princeton and Harvard universities before being assigned to the attack transport USS
Baxter. Okinawa. After the war, he joined the Navy Reserve and rose to the rank of
lieutenant commander before retiring 20 years later.
Mr. Shuman held leadership positions in Jewish organizations. He was president of the
old Temple Israel, a conservative synagogue in Silver Spring, and the mid-Atlantic region
of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism. He also was
national vice president of the United Synagogue movement and a member of its board of
After a heart valve replacement in 1981, Mr. Shuman helped form a chapter of Mended
Hearts at Washington Hospital Center and worked to assist heart disease patients and
their families. He also assumed leadership positions with the hospital center chapter and
the regional Mended Hearts group.
He worked in the Boy Scouts, the Jewish War Veterans and the Jewish Holocaust
Survivors and Friends of Greater Washington.
After moving to Leisure World in Olney, Mr. Shuman attended B'nai Shalom, a
conservative synagogue in Olney. He and his wife, Helen Ronick Shuman, donated the
family chapel at the synagogue. They contributed to the Fuchsberg Jerusalem Center of
the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, serving as an example for others of
modest means, his family said.
Survivors include his wife of 68 years, of Olney; four sons, Larry Shuman of Pittsburgh,
Charles Shuman of West River, Jeffrey Shuman of San Francisco and David Shuman of
Ithaca, N.Y.; eight grandchildren; and nine great-grandchildren.