A Wonderful Life

We lost former Delray Beach City Commissioner Bill Schwartz last week. He  passed one week after turning 100 which is one heck of a run.

Bill packed a lot into a century of life including leading troops into battle on D-Day.
He was generous in sharing his experiences and I just rewatched a Channel 5 story from three years ago about D Day that featured Bill sharing his memories with a large crowd at Sinai Residences. At age 97, Bill still commanded the room and charmed the TV reporter.
He was a kind man who lived a life of service.
We became friends when we served together on the Delray Beach City Commission. We only served one year together when Bill decided not to run for re-election but we remained friends meeting for periodic lunches and long talks at the old 5th Avenue Grill.
Bill was fascinated by politics, was an ardent supporter of Israell, was interested in business and was involved in a wide range of charitable activities.
In recent years, Bill kept in touch via  email. I was on his list and he emailed frequently   Bill shared his world views or interesting articles he came across.
It was comforting to know he was still out there thinking and caring about a range of topics.
I met Bill Schwartz close to 40 years ago when I was a reporter and he was active in an organization called PROD, which stood for Progressive Residents of Delray.
Progressive meant something different in those days. PROD was a civic group, probably the largest in town and their meetings were “musts” if you were a politician or a journalist.
Bill was VP of PROD and a gracious MC. He lived in Delaire and served on the Planning and Zoning Board.
When we worked together on the Commission his lovely wife Onalee became ill and you could see the toll it took on Bill’s face.
I remember that our commission and staff, tight knit at the time, tried our best to support Bill and his family.
Lots of time has passed since those days but I will always remember Bill fondly.
One particularly long evening, Bill noticed that I wasn’t feeling well. He asked me what was wrong and I told him I had a headache, a rarity for me.
The next day I received a series of emails from him with advice on how to cope with and prevent a headache.
I thought that was really nice of him. It was a simple gesture, but meaningful and classy. Very fitting for Bill.
I found that old email last week after I read his remarkable obituary.
My favorite Bill Schwartz story is when he shared an interesting experience that he had at a chain restaurant, I think it may have been Red Robin.
This particular chain decorated its walls with old photos of Army fliers. Bill saw a photo on the wall that looked familiar. Turns out it was him—taken at a flight school. There was Mr. Schwartz looking dapper in his flight suit and scarf.
Turns out that photo was used chainwide. Bill got a kick  out of that.
I’ll miss my old teammate. He was quite a guy.


  1. Ted Hoskinson says

    As usual, you have brought a person to life before my eyes. I get a clear picture who this man was … and I even think his soul. I can see why you want to honor him. His principals speak volumes. The thing I like most is that for you, like me, it’s the little things we remember that make us think so fondly about a person. The way he wanted to help with the headache. AND because he cared, it was easier to notice the things affecting him as well.

    You make the real Delray come alive for me. I often think of how we could teach history through stories of people rather than of events.

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