Ewald Victor Schwarze

Our oldest daughter, Laura, was a toddler and our youngest, Jana, less than a year old when we bundled them into soft pink snowsuits, then tucked them into our new blue Mercury.  Santa's gifts were hidden in the trunk beneath enough luggage for a three day visit with Grandpa and Grandma Schwarze in Greenwood, Wisconsin.   It was 1969 and we had no seat belts or air bags.  Gas was selling for 35 cents a gallon and we needed one for every 10 miles.  The edges of the roads were banked with stacks of fresh plowed snow, and the icy hills had been salted, then dusted with sand.  In the absence of audio tapes or CD players, disc jockeys surprised us with holiday tunes and we sung along instead of chatting on cell phones or watching DVDs.

Grandma Sally's house smelled of baked sugar cookies, fried rosettes, roasted turkey, ham and fresh brewed Folgers coffee.  The walls were decorated with strings of Christmas cards and the large dining room table was covered with a poinsettia print plastic table cloth.  A chain of five tiny houses sat on the window ledge, each one lit with a different colored bulb. 




The corner of the living room had been cleared for a tree, but time had run short and it had not yet been purchased.  So, Stan and his dad hurried off to the lot before it closed for Christmas Eve and found there was just a solitary tree left.  I don't know how many needles it had when they bought it, but there were very few when Stan secured it in the green metal holder.  That frail, gray skeleton of a pine was decorated with more than one raised eyebrow.  But as the tinsel was hung, in rare excitement, Grandpa declared it the best tree he'd ever seen!  He loved it because not one decoration was hidden from view.  Every ornament could be seen from any angle. 

On January 3rd, 2006, a century passed since Grandpa's birth.  It was a frosty cold Wednesday, just before noon, when Dr. Hugh Schofield placed him in his mother's arms.  He was the second son of George and Frieda.  His big brother, Harvey, had turned three in June. 

Ewald Victor grew into a strong, but humble man.  He didn't have a college education or money to burn.  He wore bib overalls and false teeth. His clocks were set five minutes ahead so no one would ever have to wait for him.  He paid his bills when they were due and he never took out a loan.  Even on Sunday, when he went to church, he smelled like the cheese from the factory where he worked.  It was common for him to go light with the veggies to save room for two pieces of pie. He loved the funnies and a good belly laugh, but he never laughed at others.  He didn't seek status, nor did he offer high praise to anyone.  Christmas was never about getting and giving presents.  Like that last tree chosen from the lot, he remained in the background, allowing true beauty to shine, unhindered by him.  Most people never knew his middle name was "Victor", but there is no question it fit him well because Ewald understood that all honor and glory belongs to God. 


So each holiday season, in memory of Ewald Victor Schwarze, we sing, "To God be the Glory!" 


Submitted 2006


by Janet Schwarze (Wife of Ewald's son, Stan)

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