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.”