Molly Somers Schwartz died on June 27 in Asheville, N.C. She had recently celebrated her 80th birthday at home, and her son, Billy, was with her at the time of her death.
Molly, the oldest and only daughter of Gerald and Jane Somers, was born and raised in Fort Wayne, Ind., alongside her three younger brothers, Jim, John, and Jeff. After high school, Molly attended Northwestern University where she was an avid student of English literature and a member of the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority. After graduating in three years, she demonstrated her bold and adventurous spirit by exploring the world.
Outside of a bullring in Mexico City on Jan. 3, 1960, she met her future husband, Gerry Schwartz. Too busy to stop for romance, Molly set off for Greece where she taught English for a year and then headed to Israel, where she worked on a kibbutz. Once back in the U.S., she was ready for her next phase of life which started with her marriage to Gerry in October of 1963 and lasted until his death, 56 years later on Aug. 31, 2019.
Together, Molly and Gerry had a most special and exciting life. From their newlywed apartment in Greenwich Village in New York City, they ventured to Washington State University in Pullman, Wash., where Gerry earned his Ph.D., while Molly earned her masters and gave birth to their first child, Rebecca. They then headed back to Fort Wayne where Gerry wrote and Molly typed and edited his thesis, pausing briefly to welcome their second child, Billy, to the world.
When Gerry was offered a professorship at Western Carolina University, the couple was thrilled. Molly and Gerry arrived in Cullowhee in January of 1969 and never left. Though they traveled extensively both in the United States and abroad, including sabbaticals in China and Ireland, their true love was the spectacular view from their house in Cullowhee and the special people with whom they shared this beautiful town.
Molly engaged in every aspect of life in Cullowhee. With a few other parents, she started the Stone Soup co-op school for their young children. Later, when Rebecca and Billy were students at Camp Lab, Molly volunteered to teach Latin to many students after school. She later volunteered to direct several high school plays at Cullowhee High School.
In addition to her countless, energetic contributions to Rebecca and Billy’s schools, Molly held several positions at WCU over 30 years, including teaching writing composition and working in the Office of Public Relations. At the Office of Public Relations, she met Christy Martin, with whom she remained dear friends for the rest of her life.
Molly was an extraordinary cook, a talented knitter, quilter and seamstress, a devoted bird watcher, a dog lover, a diligent gardener, and an unwavering fan of the Mets and Tar Heel basketball.
When Rebecca and Billy had children of their own, Molly and Gerry jumped in with helping hands and eager hearts. There was nothing more special than overhearing Molly reading books to her grandchildren or teaching them how to cook or sew. She and Gerry were full of laughter and encouragement for all of their grandchildren’s endeavors. They wrote them letters and postcards, always ending by telling them what “proud makers” they were. There could not be two luckier children or six luckier grandchildren in the world than theirs.
Molly’s intellectual curiosity and thirst for knowledge were infectious to those around her. She read voraciously on a wide variety of topics and seemed to recall everything she read. Molly and Gerry’s house was typically filled with the sounds of lively political, cultural and philosophical debate.
Molly is survived by her children, Rebecca and Billy Schwartz; her six grandchildren, Ben, Leo, and Isabel Gholson, and Will, Matt, and Jake Schwartz; her daughter-in-law, Amie Schwartz; and her brothers and their families.