Garden dedicated in memory of Schwartz

May 14, 2006|by MARIE GILBERT

Don Schwartz loved a life close to nature.

"That was who he was," said his son, Chris Schwartz. "He loved farming, he loved wildflowers, he loved and took care of the land."

So it was fitting that his father be remembered with a garden, he said.

"My father was a humble man," Schwartz said. "But I think he would be proud to see how friends and family have honored his life."

Under milky blue skies, the dedication of a memorial garden for the late Donald M. Schwartz was held Saturday morning at the Washington County Agricultural Education Center.


The University of Maryland agricultural Extension agent died in January 2005, following a battle with cancer.

He had worked closely with the Washington County farm community for 20 years, his son said.

According to Chris Schwartz, plans for the garden began more than six months ago.

"The family, as well as former colleagues, were looking for a way to remember him," he said. "The garden seemed like a perfect idea."

The garden features a bench, donated by Maryland Extension agents; flowers and shrubs planted by family members; and a walnut tree that once grew on Don Schwartz's property.

"He loved walnut trees, and had planted quite a few on our property," Chris Schwartz said. "We thought it would be appropriate to take one of those trees and transplant it in the memorial garden."

His father also loved woodworking and collected wood, he said. To recognize his hobby, wood from his father's workshop was used to make the sign that designates the memorial garden.

The ceremony included remembrances by people who had worked with Don Schwartz, as well as family and friends.

Sen. Donald F. Munson noted that the word devotion comes to mind when thinking of Don Schwartz.

"He was devoted to his family, his community and his job," Munson said. "His public service will be remembered for a long time."

Don Schwartz's wife, Denise Schwartz, said that her husband loved his job and was proud of his work with Washington County's farming community. But he also was a very humble man.

"He must be wondering what all the fuss is about," she said.

Chris Schwartz thought his father would have liked the ceremony.

"It was very simple, but special," he said. "That's the way he would have wanted it."

He hoped people who visit the Agricultural Education Center will take a few minutes to sit in the garden.

"It's the perfect place to meditate and enjoy a peaceful moment," he said.

Family members said that plans for a second memorial currently are under way. Donations made in Don Schwartz's honor will be used in the next year for a carpenter's building as part of the Rural Heritage Farm at the center.

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