|Birth: ||Jul. 28, 1921|
|Death: ||Jun., 2008|
William T. Schwartz, unexpectedly passed away.
He was a month short of his 87th birthday. Like his life, his death unfolded in a beautiful way. He had recently undertaken the challenge of major heart surgery, a battle he appeared to be winning with the steadfast support of his family, friends and medical team. But in the end, in spite of his remarkable general fitness level, the trauma was just too much. After having his favorite Psalm 23 read to him at his bedside by his daughters, Bill laid down to sleep with his customary smile on his face. Without any forewarning, God chose that moment to peacefully take him from us, relieving him of any pain.
Bill was the son of William and Lorraine Tanney Schwartz. Bill's father was a no nonsense, lifelong railroad man with the Burlington companies who, according to legend, ran away from Nebraska to Wyoming in 1900 at the age of 16 to seek his fortune. Eventually, Bill's father, a staunch democrat and labor man, moved into management and became foreman of Burlington's Casper depot. Bill's older sister, Mary Lou, tragically died after surgery at the age of 20. Her death deeply impacted the family. It caused Bill to be raised as an only child and to confront the seriousness of death at an early age. Bill's family lived relatively comfortably through the depression era, but he rarely spoke of his childhood. It was not the happiest of times for him.
Bill found his earliest joys and friendships in sports. He especially loved baseball and football. Although he was only 130 pounds, he was tough and won a position on the line of Natrona's 1937 state championship football team coached by the legendary Okie Blanchard. He was always proud to say that he was not just a guard, but a "pulling guard" who was fast—and smart enough— to lead the star running back (his life-long friend Vic Niethammer) around the end. Bill was a lifetime fan and supporter of Natrona football. He reveled in watching his son, Bill, play on Art Hill's Natrona squads in the 1970s, and his grandson, John, play on Cheyenne Central's 2005 state championship team, both of whom played in the Shrine Bowl. As a result of Bill's life long commitment to high school football, he was honored in 2007 by the Wyoming High School Football Foundation as Wyoming's High School Football Fan of the Year.
After high school, Bill attended the University of Nebraska in Lincoln. Having seen first-hand the boom of the Salt Creek field, Bill sensed a future in the oil business and decided to study petroleum geology. He obtained his B.S. degree from Nebraska in 1943. Like so many of his generation, his personal plans were interrupted by the call to service in World War II. Before the ink was dry on his diploma, Bill found himself in the United States Army with the Fifteenth Air Force. Shortly after his 22nd birthday, he was stationed in Italy functioning as a navigator on a B-24 "liberator" bomber. To the amazement of later generations who rarely observed Bill's keen sense of direction, his navigational skills as an air force navigator were outstanding. Bill ultimately flew fifty missions to heavily fortified industrial targets in Italy, Germany, France, Hungary and Romania. He was promoted to the rank of First Lieutenant and was awarded the Air Medal, two Bronze Battle Stars, a Distinguished Unit Badge, and the Distinguished Flying Cross. Bill remained in contact with his fellow air corp members throughout his life, but he never spoke of the war nor his experiences unless specifically asked.
Bill's war experiences somehow led him to pursue a career other than geology. He returned to the University of Nebraska where he earned his law degree in 1948, and was honored with the prestigious Allen Moot Court Competition Award. That summer, on August 14th, he received an even higher honor, when he exchanged marriage vows in St. Mary's Cathedral in Lincoln with a stunning University of Nebraska graduate - Anne Phillips. They were to married 45 years and together raised four children before Anne's untimely death in 1993.
Bill's initial reaction to married life was not ideal. During the marriage ceremony Bill began to succumb to a virulent form of amoebic dysentery from which he almost died. He was seriously ill for almost a year. Happily, he eventually recovered and he and Anne moved back to Casper in 1950 where Bill took his first job on the legal staff with General Petroleum in the Consolidated Royalty Building on Center Street. Although he did not stay in that job long, the location proved very auspicious as Bill would spend almost the next 60 years climbing the five flights of stairs to his private law practice on the fifth floor of the Con Roy Building, first with R.H. Nichols, C.L. Lewis and H. L. McCrary. Later he became a sole practitioner, and eventually entered into partnership with his friend, Bill Bon, which, with the help of Cam Walker and Judy Studer, eventually grew into the firm of Schwartz, Bon, Walker & Studer.
By every account, Bill rose to the pinnacle of the Wyoming legal profession and the Casper business community. He served as the president of the Wyoming Bar Association and the Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation. He held expertise in many areas, but was particularly esteemed in the area of oil, gas and minerals. Bill caught the attention early on of the managers of the Consolidated Royalty Company, Wyoming's first corporation traded on the New York Stock Exchange. After serving as its lawyer, Bill was ultimately recruited to become a director and eventually as Con Roy's president for many years, successfully managing a very strong-willed board of New Yorkers as well as over 1300 shareholders. Bill remained active in the management of the business until the time of his death.
Bill's community service activities were too numerous to recount. He served on many boards, including Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Wyoming and Provident Federal Savings & Loan. He gave generously to every cause, particularly anything having to do with St. Anthony's Parish, where he was nothing short of an institution. He attended daily mass, served as lector, sang in the choir, took communion to the sick, and worked at the soup kitchen, always with kindness and humility.
In spite of his community involvement, Bill always believed his first and foremost obligation was to his family. He was the first to help someone in need but he was suspicious of do-gooders. He felt that if people simply took care of their families, most of the world's ills would be greatly reduced. His love and support of his children and grandchildren cannot be overstated. He worked until the last days of his life, and he lived very frugally in order to make the lives of his children and grandchildren more secure. In the end and to the end, Bill was the kindest of souls and a great friend—to his family, to his neighbors and friends, to his partners, to St. Anthony's, the Nebraska Cornhuskers, the Casper Community and his country. His quirky and totally unique ways were loved by many and will be profoundly missed. All who knew him were uplifted by the life he lived and the legacy he leaves behind.
Bill is survived by three daughters: Mary Anne, wife of Ron Barnes, St. Louis, Mo.; Susan, wife of the late Jim Higgins, Lebanon, Pa.; and Sally, wife of Jim Belcher, Cheyenne; and one son, Bill, husband of Cheryl Schwartz, Jackson. Bill is also survived by ten grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
Internment will follow at Highland Cemetery.
Anne Phillips Schwartz (1926 - 1994)*
Maintained by: Lostnwyomn
Originally Created by: BrixtonWy
Record added: Jun 17, 2008
Find A Grave Memorial# 27615279
Rest in peace.|
Added: Jun. 17, 2008