Frank G. “Beaver” Schwartz, Jr.
Frank G. “Beaver” Schwartz, Jr., died unexpectedly on October 19, 2018, in his home at the age of 84. He was born on February 24, 1934 in Springfield, to the late Frank and Margaret (Kenner) Schwartz and was married for 57 years to the love of his life, Fran (Fuhrwerk) Schwartz, who preceded him in death.
Beaver was a force of nature, bringing energy, enthusiasm, and fun into everything he did. Growing up on South 13th Street, he spent most of his free time on the neighborhood baseball diamond playing with friends from sun up to sun down. He turned his pitching skills into a full scholarship at the University of Illinois where he held the earned run average record for over 10 years. As a senior, he was awarded the Ma-Wan-Da award for leadership both on and off the field. Before graduating in 1958, Beaver spent 2 years playing baseball for the Army in Okinawa.
In his last year at U of I, a torn rotator cuff cut short his dream of playing professional ball. He headed back to Springfield, fell in love with Fran, and threw himself into the insurance business. Over the course of his long career, he was an agent with New England Life, Connecticut Mutual Life, National Financial Partners, and achieved Emeritus status with MassMutual. His achievements included being Top of the Table with the Million Dollar Round Table and qualifying as a MDRT member for 51 continuous years. He loved the insurance business because he could care for his clients like family.
Beaver adored Fran. They were an amazing team and he credited his success in business to her. They raised a large family, moved to the country and learned to farm, traveled the world together, and threw legendary parties. Every family gathering was a “Schwartzfest” from making the famous family apple butter and peanut brittle to family vacations and holidays.
If Fran was the heart and soul of the family, Beaver was the chief instigator of fun whose antics were endless. Nothing was too outlandish to get a laugh. Who else would film himself as the Grinch dressed in his nightshirt with knobby knees in the wee hours of Christmas morning stealing the family nut roll? Or set all the house clocks forward several hours to trick the family into leaving early for vacation? Or tease his grandkids by popping out his false teeth at the most inappropriate times to get a laugh? He taught his family to enjoy every moment, always save room for dessert, never take no for an answer, go with it “if the damn thing works,” and “it only costs a little more to go first class.”
Beaver wasn’t just the life of the party, he was big-hearted, kind, and generous. He was the guy who showed up to visit you in the hospital or nursing home; who would take a friend out to dinner to ensure they weren’t lonely; who had a regular route to visit friends and relatives; and who gathered his friends together for a meal or to watch a ball game. He never knew a stranger, talking to anyone and everyone and became friends within minutes…and he really, really loved his friends.
Beaver co-founded and served as president of the Springfield Caps collegiate baseball team in the 1960s, helped to reactivate the Springfield U of I Alumni Association, and served on the U of I Alumni Association Board. In 2016, he was inducted into the Springfield Sports Hall of Fame.
Beaver served on the Springfield Diocese Advisory Board, Advisory Board of the Cilco Gas Co., Washington Park Children’s Playground Fundraising Committee, Advisory Board for the Community Foundation for the Land of Lincoln, a founding member of the St. Patrick’s School Board, and member of the American Business Club, the American Legion, and the Sangamo Club.
He was an active member of St. Agnes Catholic Church and served as the self-appointed door greeter. He also served on the St. Agnes Building Committee and was a Eucharistic Minister.
Frank was preceded in death by parents, Frank and Margaret Schwartz; his beloved wife Fran; and son Paul Schwartz.
He is survived by his sister Mary Ann Wood; sister-in-law Barbara J. Fuhrwerk; his children: Cathy (John Shafer) Schwartz, Paula (Mike) Ryan, and Ann (Nick) Luff of Springfield; Ed (Renee) Schwartz of Portland, OR; and Jean (Chuck) Weiss of Clinton, MS; 10 grandchildren, Shelley (Zach) Brown, Katie (Drew) deMarco, Lauren Weiss, Chris (Philicia) Ryan, Andrew Weiss, Danny Schwartz, Elle Ryan, Joey Schwartz, Emma Shafer, and Matthew Weiss; and 5 great grandchildren, Emma Brown, Carter deMarco, Leo deMarco, Ava Brown, and Henry deMarco. During the past year, he was blessed to have Nancy Smith as his companion and friend on many adventures.
Visitation: 3:30 – 6:30 pm on Sunday, October 28 and at St. Agnes Church, Springfield, IL.
Visitation and Funeral Mass: Monday, October 29 at 8:45 – 9:15 am; Funeral Mass starting at 9:30 am, at St. Agnes Church with Father Richard Chiola officiating.
Burial will follow at Calvary Cemetery with a luncheon following at St. Agnes.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to HSHS St. John’s Foundation, c/o Fran Schwartz Nursing Scholarship, 800 E. Carpenter St., Springfield, IL 62769 or online at giving.hshs.org/sjs/Donate.