Gerald Schwartz

Gerald Schwartz died Aug. 31, 2019, at his home in Cullowhee after a remarkable career teaching American history at Western Carolina University and a most happy life raising his family in Cullowhee.

He was born in 1932 in Brooklyn, N.Y. After an adventurous childhood and four years of service in the Air Force, he met the love of his life, Molly, outside a bullfight ring in Mexico City. After getting married in 1964, he and Molly moved to Pullman, Wash., where he earned his PhD in American studies from Washington State University. In 1968 he was hired by the Western Carolina University History Department where he informed and entertained students for the next 37 years, making countless close and lasting friendships along the way. 

He became an avid tennis player and hiker. As a boy from Brooklyn, his gardening skills were largely poor but with perseverance and much advice from neighbors and friends, he became a fairly productive tiller of the soil. He took his family tent camping in most of the major American national parks and attended countless sporting events, frequently those involving his beloved New York Mets. He and Molly traveled the world, including sabbatical semesters in both Ireland and China. He researched and edited the Civil War diaries of one of history’s remarkable figures, woman doctor and abolitionist Esther Hill Hawks, and published many articles on American journalist and satirist H.L. Mencken.

He is survived by his wife, Molly; children Rebecca and Bill; daughter-in-law, Amie; six grandchildren, Ben, Leo, Will, Matt, Jake and Isabel; and sister, Diane Sokolow. All of them cherish his keen sense of humor, breadth of knowledge and loving kindness.

A memorial celebrating his life will be held later this fall.