Pastor Joseph W. Schwartz
May 5, 1930 – January 10, 2016
Pastor Joseph W. Schwartz, age 85, of Wilmington, DE, passed away peacefully on Sunday, January 10, 2016.
Pastor Schwartz was born on May 5, 1930 in Philadelphia, PA, one of eight children, and attended high school and the Brown Preparatory school there. He earned a B.A. degree at Muhlenberg College and a B.D. from Philadelphia Lutheran Seminary. He was ordained on May 26, 1955 at the St. John’s Lutheran Church in Stroudsburg, PA and just over a week later he married the former, Joanna Kavelek, who had recently graduated from nursing school. They attended the Kennedy School of Missions at Hartford, Connecticut. Joe was commissioned as a missionary in 1956 and first arrived in Liberia, Africa with Joanna on August 25, 1956. During his first term of service, Joe studied the Kpelle language and was assigned village evangelistic work. During his second term of service, he taught at the Lutheran Training Institute in Salayea. In early 1963, after seven years in Liberia, Joe and Joanna returned permanently to the United States.
Joe became pastor of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Wilmington on March 1, 1963. During his 19 years at Holy Trinity, Joe was deeply committed to inner-city work. He initiated a concerted effort to take ministry to the surrounding neighborhood, particularly through a Vacation Bible School Program and later a tutoring program. Also during his time, Joe was heavily involved in the work of the Delaware/Maryland Synod of the ELCA. He served as chairperson of the Synod’s Stewardship Committee. He was also on the Synod’s executive board, and in the late 1960’s led a special synod-wide campaign. The campaign, Love Compels Action, raised funds for work in the inner-cities.
In 1982, Joe left Holy Trinity and assumed the responsibility of Executive Director of Lutheran Senior Services. He was in charge of Luther Tower I and II, supervising staff and caring for residents for thirteen years. Joe also faithfully served as Manager and Chaplain of Gilpin Hall for 30 years beginning November 21, 1983. Joe gave generously of his time as treasurer since June 19, 1989, and as Chairman of the Admissions, Budget and Investment Committees. He also served as Vice Chairman of the Personnel Committee and as a member of the Auxiliary/Special Events, Executive, Long Range Planning, Medical Affairs/Ethics, Nominating Property, Public Relations/Marketing and Safety/Quality of Life Committees.
Since 1982, Joe has also been actively engaged in the life of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Wilmington. In addition to frequently preaching and worship leading responsibilities, his commitments have included the following; Senior Choir Member, Soloist, Barbershop Quartet Member, Adult Sunday School Teacher, Stewardship Committee Member and Chairman, leader for several special giving programs, key member of the initial bond committee, and served as interim Pastor from June 2006 to December 2007.
He retired in 1995 to enjoy his hobbies, woodworking, reading, and his many grandchildren. He is survived by his wife of 60 years, Joanna Schwartz; his four children, Sue, Jan (William), Paula (Ray), and Peter (Marie); his 13 grandchildren; 2 step-grandchildren; 6 great grandchildren; and 2 step great-grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held at 11 am on Friday morning, January 15, 2016, at the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd, 1530 Foulk Road, Wilmington, DE.
In lieu of flowers, Joe requested donations in his memory be made to Gilpin Hall, 1101 Gilpin Avenue, Wilmington, DE 19806.