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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

Paul Schwarz, an American hero, died from eating cantaloupe

Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation’s service. Paul Schwarz likely should have died during his service of his country, but he survived and became a father, grandfather, great-grandfather and a productive member of our country. In all respects he was an American hero. We repaid Paul and his family by having “the safest food supply in the world.” On this Memorial Day we should all be ashamed.

Paul Schwarz served in the Army in New Guinea and the Philippines during WWII. He was awarded two Purple Hearts. Paul met Rosellen in a Catholic church in Kansas City when she was 18 and he not much older. They married soon after and then Paul was called to war. Rosellen would not see him for approximately two years. Like many veterans, Paul was reticent about his service, but remained deeply attached to those with whom he served. During their many years together Paul and Rosellen attended many reunions with Paul’s Army unit.

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Paul mans a .50 caliber machine gun while serving in the Pacific during WWII

After the war, Paul worked for a printing company, a bakery, and then as an agent for Metropolitan Life Insurance Company beginning in 1956. He retired in 1981 at age 63. Rosellen and Paul had five children: Jim, Janice, Paul, Mary Pat and Greg. He and Rosellen lived in the same house for almost six decades. Rosellen continues to live there today. When he died, Paul left nine grandchildren and ten great-grandchildren. He delighted in his extended family and looked forward to large holiday gatherings. Paul had a larger than life personality. He was loud, funny, and gregarious. He was a sportsman who loved to golf. He carded two holes in one and followed a wide variety of sports. He was a huge baseball fan and often watched both the Kansas City and St. Louis teams; he would regularly drive to St. Louis to watch the Cardinals.

Paul and Rosellen traveled throughout the country, almost always by car, after Paul’s retirement. Between travel, family, and sports, Paul was rarely still. He enjoyed good health and even in his last year, had to be admonished to use his cane inside of the house because he had little trouble walking. Paul and Rosellen’s marriage lasted 68 extraordinary years.

Rosellen suffers from early Alzheimer’s disease and Paul was her rock, caregiver, and constant companion. For Rosellen, Paul’s death has left her with an aching loneliness despite the large family that now cares for her. She still lives in the family house under the care of a niece and the support of her grandchildren, but she will have to move to an assisted living facility soon.

Paul A. Schwarz, Jr. was 92 years old in the fall of 2011, when he fell ill after eating cantaloupe contaminated by Listeria monocytogenes. After a month in the hospital and two more months in a rehabilitation center, the Listeria infection finally killed Paul.

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Paul was laid to rest with full military honors

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Rosellen receives the Flag at Fort Leavenworth National Cemetery

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Rest in peace Mr. Schwarz – Section 51 Row 1 Grave 3

My father died in January. He served in the Korean War, and was perhaps not technically a hero – except to me. His passing, and the time I spent with him in the days before his death, has given me a far greater appreciation for what many of my clients and their family’s experience. Death is painful, it is hard to watch, it makes you cry and it is humbling. My dad’s death was all of those, but it was natural and inevitable. Paul Schwarz’s death was not natural, it was not inevitable, and it came before its time because our food supply is in fact not “the safest in the world.”

  • Paul F Schwarz

    Bill told the story of my father. We can’t take the safety of our food for granted. Dad took a few bites of listeria tainted cantaloupe from Jensen Farms. This changed my families lives forever, but not for the better I assure you!
    Federal inspections should be a regular event pertaining to the safety of our food! Third party ‘audits’ should not be the norm.
    On Sundays and holidays my brothers and I would play early morning golf with dad. My brother Greg and I are going to play with Dad on our mind this morning. I can still hear him say to my slice ‘now hook’!
    Our fathers that went off to war came home and quietly went about their business of life! As I told you before our fathers are proud of us.
    Paul A Schwarz
    Section 51 Row 1 Grave 3 Ft Leavenworth/Leavenworth National Cemetery

  • http://Reidcm.com Kathy Reid

    Thank you Bill for posting this moving story and Paul for the personal comment. This is an American tragedy of monumental proportion. I am ashamed for our country.

  • Jeff Almer

    I extend my wish for peace for the Schwarz family in this truly preventable tragedy.
    Your father sounded like a wonderful person and deserved better.

  • Ronnie Allen

    A very moving story and one that we should not forget. There are those that argue less regulations and more flexibility for business but here are the results of that type policy. Hopefully people can see the importance of regulations and inspections for products and goods that we all consume. My condolences to the Schwarz family and all the other families victimized by this lackadaisical regulation.

  • Chris Argento

    My sincerest condolences to the Family of Paul Schwarz, a fallen hero. Sadly, words can not fully express this tragic loss.

    To Whomever (Bill??) posted: “My father died in January. He served in the Korean War, and was perhaps not technically a hero – except to me.” PLEASE REMEMBER: EVERY MAN & WOMAN WHO HAS TAKEN THE OATH TO SERVE IS INDEED AN AMERICAN HERO, REGARDLESS OF HAVING ACTUALLY EXPERIENCED COMBAT ACTION.

    As a Patriot Guard Rider (PGR), NYS Region 9 and American Legion Rider (ALR), Post 1244 Greenlawn NY I (we) salute your beloved departed fathers, our fallen heroes, with honor, dignity and respect. We ride to remind those who have forgotten, and to honor and keep the sacrifices and memories of our Veterans alive. Your Fathers ride on, and they are spiritually with us on every mission of the PGR/ALR.

    Thank you Bill for your dedication, the protection of those unable to defend themselves, and making positive food safety changes in government and business – evolving because of your professional focus to food safety.

    Chris Argento, Veteran
    39th Combat Engineers
    Republic of South Vietnam 66-67