Former SC Speaker of the House of Representatives Ramon Schwartz passes away
SUMTER COUNTY, SC (WACH) – The Hon. Ramon Schwartz, Jr., former Speaker of the South Carolina House of Representatives, passed away Friday after a brief illness.
Schwartz was a member of the House for 18 years and was first elected in 1968.
Schwartz served on the Rules and Judiciary Committees soon after his election and in 1975 he became the chair of the committee. One year later, he was elected Speaker Pro-Tempore and two years later he was elected Speaker. He held that role until his retirement from the legislature six years later.
Schwartz received numerous awards while in the legislature. These awards included Legislature of the Year for his contributions to the State’s economic development. The American Legion Department of South Carolina also recognized him for years of outstanding service to his community and state.
The South Carolina Department of the Veterans of Foreign Wars honored him with its Legislative Award. The Greater Sumter Chamber of Commerce also awarded him its Outstanding Achievement Award. Schwartz received Doctors of Law degrees from USC, The Citadel and Newberry College.
The General Assembly also named a portion of US Highway 76/378 abutting Shaw Air Force Base The Ramon Schwartz, Jr. Highway.
Schwartz was born in Sumter on May 25, 1925 and graduated from Edmunds High School in 1942 and then enrolled at the University of South Carolina. When he was 18, however, Schwartz joined the U.S. Army and served in the European Theater Operation.
Schwartz returned to USC after World War II and earned his bachelor’s degree in 1948 and a law degree in 1949.
Schwartz served as USC’s first Student Body vice president, a member of the Omicron Kappa Leadership Fraternity, a member of the Kappa Sigma Kappa Service Fraternity, a member of the debate team, president of the Euphradian Literary Society and a member of the Wig and Robe Scholastic Society.
Schwartz practiced law for 68 years in Sumter, beginning with his father in the law firm of Schwartz and Schwartz. He also served as a past president of the Sumter County Bar Association and at the time of his death, he was a member of the law firm Schwartz, McLeod, DuRant and Jordan.
Schwartz was awarded the Order of the Palmetto from former governor Nikki Haley and the Gamecock City Society award from the City of Sumter in 2012. When receiving these awards, he talked about the value of giving back to the community and make it a better place, a value he said was instilled in him by his parents.
Schwartz devoted his life to public service, beginning with civic organizations and charitable boards in Sumter and culminating with his tenure as a Speaker of the South Carolina representatives.
Schwartz was also a lifelong Gamecock and according to his obituary, “seemed to live for college football season and reveled in the Carolina-Clemson rivalry. In 2001, he was honored by the Sumter Gamecock Club as the Sumter Fan of the year.
Schwartz was survived by Survivors include a daughter, Barbara S. Burchstead, three sons, Ray Schwartz, Milton Schwartz and Bill Schwartz; eight grandchildren, Michael Burchstead, Matthew Burchstead, Sarah Nagy, Hughes Schwartz, Reid Schwartz, Grier Schwartz, Maggie Schwartz and Page Schwartz, and three great-grandchildren, Vivian Burchstead, Grant Burchstead, and David Nagy. His sister, Edith S. Joel, predeceased him.
A memorial service will take place Thursday, July 6 at 1 p.m. with the Reverend Marcus A. Kaiser, Sr. and the Reverend Charles F. Walton preaching. The committal of the ashes will take place in the Church Memorial Garden following the service.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Building Fund of the Church of the Holy Comforter (213 N. Main Street, Sumter, SC 29150), to USC - Sumter (200 Miller Road, Sumter, SC 29150), to the Solomons Home for the Aged (620 North Guignard Drive, Sumter, SC 29150), to the YMCA Annual Campaign (510 Miller Road, Sumter, SC 29150) or to the charity of one's choice.