|photo by Steve Hank|
Fred Schwartz was a warm and lovable member of Swaziland 1, the first Peace Corps volunteer group to serve in Swaziland.
Fred died on January 11, 1970 in a highway auto accident near Piggs Peak that also took the life of South African volunteer Marcia Silver. Fred was serving as a rural development worker and had been engaged in a project to create a national woodcraft industry.
Across the years we Swaziland 1 Volunteers warmly remember Fred. =============================================================
"I still remember well the shock of Fred's accident. I didn't really know Fred too much in training but we did have a wonderful weekend in Mozambique with some Portuguese friends. My memory was that he was smart and funny. What a nice combination."
"Fred Schwartz was a natural leader and a gung-ho friend. We had many adventures in Swaziland and never saw the dangers. It was an honor to serve with him in the experience of our lifetimes."
"Since Fred and I were stationed at opposite ends of the country we didn't have much contact, but it was obvious whenever we met that Fred was one of the best spirits in our "bandla". I've attached the only photos [above] I made of Fred while we were there.
"I remember visiting the Nsangwini Bushman Cave Paintings up in Fred's territory somewhere in Piggs Peak, Swaziland. I would never have discovered this delightful, historical site if Fred hadn't introduced me to the area."
"Fred was the first Swaziland volunteer I met. We shared a plane ride to Baton Rouge en route to training in Baker, LA. I remember being struck by the contrast between his excitement and enthusiasm, and my own apprehension. It was impossible to be around Fred without being drawn into his love of life and people and the things around him. He was a joyful force."
I’m flooded by memories of the times I spent with Fred in training and in Swaziland – among them: the clattering of the bamboo outside his residence in Hhohho, the evenings at Giulio Tambalo’s café in Piggs Peak, and (for those others of you who were fortunate enough to be there) the afternoon in Manzini when Fred regaled us campfire-style with the adventures of Fester Bestertester and Carbuncle. My sides still ache from laughing. His wit, energy and love of life were infectious and his loss was crushing. Thinking about it now brings me close to tears.
"We gathered for a memorial for Fred. I forget where. Our usually rowdy spirits were sobered, our always talkative group not finding words, looking at each other waiting for someone to say something. We had all had the scary mountain rides with cows in the roads along precipices with no railings. We laughed them off with all the invulnerability of youth. Suddenly it could happen; it did happen. And we lost a warm, witty and brilliant friend."
"When we read the letters from Fred written while he was in Swaziland, it was apparent that he had been touched so deeply by the people there—his fellow Peace Corps Volunteers and also the Swazi people that he lived and worked alongside. I truly believe that it would have impacted his world view even after his time there. I have sent this email to my remaining siblings so that they might know more fully what you are doing. I thought they might also have certain memories they could share with you. Again, thanks so much for your efforts on this project—it has made Fred come to the forefront of my mind after so many years. It is true that no one is really gone as long as someone remembers them."
Fred and I were supposed to connect later in the spring of 1970 as I returned from a year in Manila as an exchange student. I ended up going to Swaziland to meet Giulio and some of his friends in the Peace Corps and then I managed to visit the family of the Israeli girl who also died in the MVA. I also had driven to Louisiana to pick Fred up after your group’s initial training before you went to Africa. We drove back to Kansas together for Thanksgiving or Christmas before he left…
So I know I met some of your group but I do not specifically remember anyone except Giulio Tambalo and the volunteers and friends around Piggs Peak. Giulio later came to Kansas and studied philosophy getting a BA degree, married a much younger woman he met in Kansas and they later moved to New Mexico where he got a Masters degree (U. of New Mexico) and then to Hawaii where he built a house out of lava (where my wife and I visited them) and later they moved to Las Cruces, New Mexico where I believed he died. I will try to find any photos I can of anyone in your group when I was in Swaziland and send them on to you but it will take me awhile.
Anyway, a belated thanks to you and your fellow PCP's for your efforts to create a memorial for him.
I remember being amazed at him winning the extemporaneous speaking contest at Boys State as I thought he was a quiet thoughtful younger brother! He was my center on the high school football team my senior year. We weren’t very good but it was a unique experience and once I was gone they were much better!
We went to Notre Dame where he was two years behind me. He was elected chairman of the Blue Circle Honor Society at Notre Dame which was a student group of “special” students who did a lot of volunteer work for the University. We shared a job at a gas station and the African American owners of that Shell Station loved him so much they drove out to Kansas from South Bend for his funeral.
Fred was a unique and remarkable person and although the years have softened the sorrow of his loss I often wonder about what he would have done in his life. I suspect something special. I remember him saying he wanted to live a simple life with little dependence on money and that he felt like his life was like an acorn but that it would hopefully grow to be a big old oak tree or something like that!"
Report of Fred's passing in his hometown paper:
Watercolor of Fred by Lowell
[Snippet of message sent to Fred's family] "We were a pretty tight group as we had a long time [3 months] together in a training camp in Baker, LA which bonded us together more than subsequent groups that did most of their training in-country and individualized. My contact with Fred in Swaziland was limited as he was in another part of the country but, as we were in town [Manzini], he would come by, visit us [the late Chris Lackey, a British Volunteer with whom I shared a house at my school, and me], do some shopping, get a real shower, a pub visit and hang out. On one of those occasions I did this hasty watercolor portrait when he had dozed off in a chair. Not sure how good of a likeness it is. He had a big bushy reddish beard by then. I remember he liked to wear an olive-green army surplus shirt. Ironically it would be the only picture I would have of him."
Fred's listing in the Swaziland 1 Volunteers Directory:
Link To Swaziland 1 Volunteers Directory [now complete]
Page Created by Lowell Boileau