MAPLEWOOD, NJ –Manny (Emanuel) E. Schwartz, 94, died peacefully on July 6th, 2018 in West Orange, NJ. Manny was a loving partner to his late wife, Charlotte, a dedicated father and grandfather, and a loyal friend to many.
He is survived by his daughter, Nancy Schwartz, son-in-law, Sean Bailey, and granddaughter, Charlotte Bailey-Schwartz, of Maplewood, NJ; son, Frederic Schwartz, and granddaughters Ann and Carla, of Worcester, MA. His sister, Diane Jassem, and his brother-in-law and sister-in-law, Joe and Arlene Finston, also survive him.
Manny was born on Oct. 14, 1923, on his family’s kitchen table in the Bronx, the second child of three born to Tovah “Tessie” (Weiss) and Selig “Sigmund/Ziggy” Schwartz. (His parents had met as teenage migrants sailing alone to New York from Hamburg, days before the start of World War I.)
Raised in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, Manny enjoyed a childhood filled with pleasures of the era: punch ball, marbles, yo-yos, and catching Brooklyn Dodgers games from the 55-cent bleacher seats. He attended Yeshiva of Crown Heights and Brooklyn’s Boys High School. Despite his father’s misgivings (he preferred Manny join him in the dress shop business), Manny left home at 16 to attend college at the University of Georgia from 1940 to 1942. He hoped to one day enter medical school. But war soon called.
He served three years in the U.S. Army, 1943-46, as a combat medic with the 94th Infantry Division in the European theater, part of Patton’s 3rd Army. Manny received a Bronze Star for surviving what he called a “baptism by fire,” doing his job pulling wounded G.I.’s to safety even while in-coming shells blew his helmet off. Earlier, he’d survived a hand grenade assault by a drunken G.I. yelling “kill that Jew.” Manny dodged the attacker who was restrained by fellow troops, and the device failed to explode. Manny commented in his memoir: “I encountered little other overt anti-Semitism during my service.”
When he returned from the war, Manny completed his undergraduate education at New York University and turned his sights to medical school. Despite a stellar academic record, quotas limiting the number of Jewish students kept him from his top choices. But he was pleased to finally enter and earn his medical degree at the Downstate Medical Center, State University of New York, in 1950.
Manny specialized in the new, growing field of radiology and completed post-graduate work and academic appointments at Yale-New Haven Medical Center, the University of Chicago, University of Virginia, and Hahnemann University. He was also awarded a post-doctoral fellowship at the National Cancer Institute at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
Manny’s proudest academic work included editing two books, The Biologic Basis of Radiation Therapy (1961) and The Radiology of Complications in Medical Practice (1984). His memoir, A Boy Grows in Brooklyn, is in the collections at the Brooklyn Historical Society and the National Museum of American Jewish Military History.
Manny liked to say his life really started when he met his future wife, Charlotte Finston, of Philadelphia, in 1955. They met on a kind-of blind date set up by mutual friends who bowed out at the last minute. They enjoyed an elegant dinner and dancing at Tappan Hill, a spot on the Henry Hudson Parkway. They married the next year on Sept. 2, 1956. “It was the happiest day of my life,” Manny wrote in his memoir.
A core value of his life involved participating in community and civic affairs. Manny attended the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963 and heard Martin Luther King Jr. deliver his “I Have a Dream” speech. After moving his family back to the Philadelphia area, Manny held leadership and volunteer roles with several game-changing organizations, including the Main Line Community Association (promoting affordable housing for all); Radnor Historical Society; Social Action Committee, Main Line Reform Temple; Democratic Committeeman and Ward Leader, Radnor Township; first grade tutor, Pastorius Elementary School, Philadelphia; and volunteer in the youth program at the Church of the Greater Exodus, Philadelphia.
Manny always held a strong zest for life and passion for new challenges and hobbies. He exercised daily starting in the 1950s and played tennis for decades. Manny loved gardening at his home in Ithan, PA. Later, he took up classical guitar at 55, Spanish at 65, and returned to studying Hebrew in his 70s.
Though the ravages of dementia pressed down over the years, Manny retained his core self and enjoyed visits from family and short walks. At 93, he even challenged an aide to a push-up contest, pressed out ten good ones, and won.
As he withdrew into himself during his final days, he remained focused on the bridal portrait of Charlotte on the wall high above him.
In his memoir, he’d written: “Throughout our wonderful 47 years together, Charlotte was a constant source of love, wisdom, strength, and inspiration. She was a delight to live with. I was indeed fortunate.”
The night before his death, aides entered Manny’s room to find him clutching Charlotte’s portrait. In his weakened state, it was unclear how he managed to reach the frame and pull it down. But his still-powerful grip held her picture close to his heart.