|Birth: ||Sep. 19, 1942|
|Death: ||Jan. 9, 2003|
C. Thomas Schwalm, 60, of Hummelstown, passed away Thursday, January 9, 2003, at his residence.
Born in Harrisburg on September 19, 1942, he was the son of the late Charles H. and Anna Seyler Schwalm. He was a 1960 graduate of Central Dauphin High School. He received his Bachelor of Music Education degree in 1964 from Lebanon Valley College, where he studied piano with William Fairlamb and the late Dr. Charles Debodo. He has done graduate work at Penn State University, Temple University, the Peabody Conservatory and Westminster Choir College.
He served as Director of Choral Activities at Northern York High School, Harrisburg High School and for eighteen years, at the Milton Hershey School. He was active as an accompanist for the Susquehanna Chorale. He had served from 1995 until the present, as Minister of Music at Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church in Hummelstown. He was the former organist at Lakeside Lutheran Church, Harrisburg and Palm Lutheran Church, Palmyra. He was a pianist and singer with the former group "Celebration." He had been Chorus Director of Laurel Music Camp in Winstead, Connecticut.
He devoted much of his time to the composition of choral music. He wrote many anthems and hymns for worship. The Susquehanna Chorale and Youth Chorales, and the Messiah College Concert Choir performed some of his works. Shawnee Press recently accepted his submitted works for publication. He was also commissioned to write settings of sacred texts by various churches and chorale organizations.
He was a member of the American Guild of Organists and the American Choral Directors Association.
He is survived by three sons, Thomas A. Schwalm of Palmyra, Michael A. Schwalm of Mechanicsburg, Christopher S. Schwalm of Lititz; one daughter, Amy E. Reichelderfer of Harrisburg; one brother, Jack S. Schwalm of Maryland; and eight granddaughters.
Funeral services will be held Tuesday, January 14, at 7 p.m., in Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church, 100 West Main Street, Hummelstown, with Bishop Guy S. Edmiston, Bishop Emeritus of the Lower Susquehanna Synod, the Rev. David R. Fisher, Assistant to the Bishop of Lower Susquehanna Synod, the Rev. Dr. Alan C. Wenrich, Senior Pastor of Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church of Hummelstown and the Rev. Elaine Miller Dent, pastor of St. Paul's Lutheran Church of New Cumberland, officiating. Interment will be Wednesday, January 15, at 10 a.m. in Woodlawn Memorial Gardens, Lower Paxton Township. Friends are invited to call in the church Monday, January 13, from 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 9 p.m. and Tuesday, from 5: 30 p.m. until time of the services.
Trefz & Bowser Funeral Home, Inc., 114 West Main Street, Hummelstown, is handling the arrangements.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the C. Thomas Schwalm Memorial Music Scholarship Fund, c/o Zion Lutheran Church, 100 West Main Street, Hummelstown, PA 17036; or to PinnacleHealth Hospice, 3705 Elmwood Drive, Harrisburg, PA 17110.
[Patriot News - January 12, 2003]
Additional artical written about C. Thomas Schwalm........
Deceased Name: C. Thomas Schwalm: Musician served as a leader of note
C. Thomas Schwalm 1942-2003
The 100th Psalm exhorts the faithful to "make a joyful noise unto the Lord," and to "come before his presence with singing."
His friends say C. Thomas Schwalm did just that.
"Tom could take amateur musicians and have them perform like professionals," Joyce Snyder said.
Snyder said she and husband Bob, both musicians, joined Zion Lutheran Church in Hummelstown after they heard Schwalm playing the piano and directing the choir there.
"We knew it was the church for us," she said. "He brought out the best in people, both professionally and personally. Everybody worked together as a team; there were no prima donnas."
Schwalm, who was 60, died Jan. 9 after a long struggle with esophageal cancer. Born in Harrisburg, he graduated from Central Dauphin High School in 1960 and took his Bachelor of Music Education degree four years later at Lebanon Valley College.
He served as director of choral activities at Northern York High School, Harrisburg High School, and the Milton Hershey School.
He sang, played piano and organ, and composed for the Susquehanna Chorale. He also served as minister of music at Zion from 1995 until Christmas, when he resigned because of his health.
In January 2000, Schwalm had emergency surgery on his throat. The surgery allowed him to breathe and so extended his life. But the surgeon's knife sliced away his voice.
Friend and colleague Kathleen Daugherty said it didn't keep Schwalm from practicing his music.
While still in the hospital, he entertained the staff by playing new and traditional hymns on an electronic keyboard a friend had smuggled in to him.
Out of the hospital, he continued to direct the choir at Zion.
"He whispered to the associate director, and she would pass on his directions," she said. "He went through a variety of hospitalizations and surgeries over the past three years. He had a heart attack during one surgery."
Daugherty said Schwalm was told several times he would quite possibly die after the next surgery. And the next. And the next.
"He kept coming back," she said. "His life force kept him going."
She said all his friends figured the end was near when he gave up directing the choir.
"Everybody knew he wouldn't live long then, because that was his life," she said. "He died less than a month later."
Joyce Snyder said Schwalm was quiet, letting his music speak for him. That included expressing his humor.
"He had a sense of humor about his piano playing," she said. "He was a consummate piano player. If somebody walked into the church during practice and tripped, he would start playing "Tiptoe Through the Tulips."
He was modest almost to a fault, she said.
"Last year he composed three pieces for the Messiah College Choral Arts Society," she said. "They were gorgeous, and I said he ought to have them published. 'Do you really think so?' is what he said."
The Rev. Ron VanBlargan served as Schwalm's pastor at Zion from 1995 until he retired from the ministry in 1999.
He said Schwalm's determined humility concerning his work may have been a way to deal with his virtuosity.
"He was a very serious and very accomplished musician. One of the best I've ever known," he said.
VanBlargan said Schwalm was a musical genius who sometimes reminded him of some of the more famous, driven geniuses of music, like Mozart and Beethoven.
"In his best moments he recognized that his musical abilities were a gift from God," he said. "That kept him sane."
T.W. BURGER: 432-8374 or email@example.com
* The Susquehanna Chorale CD with several of C. Thomas Schwalm's compositions is available online at www.susquehannachorale.org. The CDs cost $16 plus tax.
AND WHEN FROM DEATH I'M FREE
I'LL SING ...AND WHEN FROM DEATH I'M FREE
I'LL SING HIS LOVE FOR ME...AND THROUGH ETERNITY
I'LL SING ON.
Woodlawn Memorial Gardens
Created by: Brenda & Pete
Record added: May 02, 2012
Find A Grave Memorial# 89487962