In Memory

Ron Schwertfeger VIEW PROFILE

Ron Schwertfeger

Ronald M. Schwertfeger
October 24, 1944 - November 28, 2022


Peacefully entered into Eternal Life on Monday, November 28, 2022 at the age of 78. Resident of Mequon, Ron was deeply devoted to his late wife Mary and they now shine together again in heaven.  Having celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in December 2020, Ron was lost after Mary, the love of his life, succumbed to illness in 2021.  Loving father of Scott and Mark Schwertfeger and Anne (Chris) Babick. Proud and beloved “Grandpa” to grandchildren Grace, Christopher, Stephen, Andrew and John as well as his beloved Seamus.  Cherished brother of the late Jim (Kathie) Schwertfeger, Tina (Jay) Hintze and Del Burke-Kaney (Steve Kaney).  Dear brother-in-law of John and Tom (Tammy Jung) Savage and Kate (Don) Gruning. Further survived by devoted relatives and friends.

Ron was raised in Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin by loving parents. His father Harold was a Pastor at Our Savior Evangelical Lutheran in Whitefish Bay, and together with his mother, Mildred, instilled in Ron his deep faith in God, a strong work ethic and simple needs.  Patriotic to his core, Ron faithfully served in the Army in Vietnam.  Ron had a fulfilling career in industrial product sales from which he retired many years ago; thereafter, he continued to embrace his life-long passion for investing that happily occupied his time in between the occasional nap.

With a passion for watching and playing sports, Ron was a devoted Badger and Packer fan, viewing every game comfortably from his living room.  Ron was an accomplished athlete and was grateful for his many lifelong friendships formed while playing tennis and golf in Milwaukee and later in Scottsdale, Arizona.  On the golf course, Ron achieved two “holes-in-one” over the years and he “shot his age” scoring a 77 during a special round last summer.

Ron was skilled at woodworking and very handy with all household projects, especially deft at re-deploying leftover supplies.  Ron dedicated his many talents to help build and perpetually improve our beloved Northwoods family cabin, recently adding his firepit, a site of many enjoyable family gatherings.   

Ron was a rock to his Mary, his children, and all family and friends.  His quiet strength provided us comfort in knowing he was always ready to help us through life’s challenges.  He will be deeply missed and forever on our minds and in our hearts.

Visitation Thursday, December 8 from 4:00pm until 7:00pm at Schmidt &Bartelt Funeral Home-Mequon, 10280 N. Pt. Washington Road. Funeral service will be held on Friday, December 9 at 10:00am at Our Savior Ev. Lutheran Church, 6021 N. Santa Monica Blvd., Whitefish Bay.  Please meet at church.

In lieu of flowers, the family would appreciate donations to Our Savior Evangelical Lutheran Church, the Wisconsin Ovarian Cancer Alliance or a charity of your choice.

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12/18/22 11:51 PM #1    

David Stearns

Ron and I lived about a half block from each other on Santa Monica.  We had paper routes for the Milwaukee Journal and Sentinel.  I gave Ron my route when I had a hip operation after we graduated from Richards.  Ron was a super guy, unpretentious, humble, soft spoken, and friendly. 

Those early morning paper routes were great fun in the summer when we would catch up with the milkman and buy a carton of chocolate milk.  Winters, in the dark and blowing snow, were not so much fun,.  Ron's father was a pastor but contrary to his obituary, Ron wasn't always an angel and he admitted as such. 

We went to UW and both were in the Geology 1A class our freshman year, second semester.  We may have been in the same dorm and we studied together religiously, testing each other with old final exams we got from fraternities and both A'ced the class.  I lost touch with him after graduation.  It is good to know he had a productive and long life.  

David Brook Stearns, Jr.


12/19/22 12:00 AM #2    

David Stearns

Remembering Ron Schwertfeger

(posted by David Stearns for Jerry Thornbery)

Several weeks ago I learned that our classmate Ron Schwertfeger had died.  Since then, I have been reflecting on my time with him, some sixty years ago.  Of course, some of the specifics of that interaction have been lost to the fading and failing memory of time.  For example, I can’t recall if Ron and I were IM basketball teammates or if he played with his good friend John Quackenbush on a rival squad.  But there is no question that Ron did much to enhance positively my time at WFB.  David Stearns’s characterization of him as “unpretentious, humble, and friendly” succinctly describes a terrific guy.

Ron always had a story or two to tell about his most recent adventure or misadventure, navigating adolescence.  One of my favorites was the decision he made coming home late one night on Santa Monica.  “Why should I drive an extra block to make a U-turn so I can drive a block back to turn into our driveway,” he thought, “when if I just cut across the grassy median in front of my house I can get home more quickly and get an extra five minutes of sleep?”  Unfortunately, Ron failed to notice the near-by parked squad car of one of WFB’s finest.  And there, in Rev. Schwertfeger’s driveway, Ron got a traffic ticket.  I never found out if he asked the officer for a PK discount.

Both in high school and in college we played a lot of cards together—poker, sheepshead, and cribbage.  My father taught me the fundamentals of the latter two games, but it was Ron who fine-tuned my card-playing skills.  When I first started playing cribbage with Ron, he would slide the deck over for me to cut, which I did.  “That’s a point for insult,” Ron would say, moving his peg one space.  “By cutting the deck you imply that I am not an honest player.”  I’m still not sure if I had been conned, but to this day, when playing cribbage, I think of Ron as I decline to cut the cards.

Ron was a thoughtful person.  An incident at our family Lake Michigan cottage illustrates this point.  Shortly around our high school graduation (either before or just afterward) my parents supervised a group of classmates for a weekend of cards and maybe golf (I remember the cards, but not the golf).  What I vividly recall about Ron and that weekend, however, is that he helped to organize a gift for my mom who had fed this motley crew for the weekend while they were at the lake cottage.

Several years later, at the beginning of spring break, Ron phoned to see if I was home from college.  My mother told him that she was on her way to Ripon to pick me up, and, if he was free, maybe he would like to ride along.  Evelyn Thornbery could be a very private person who liked her space but clearly Ron had made an impression on her as she welcomed his company.  Reflecting back on this incident over the years, I still marvel that the two rode up to Ripon.  I chalk it up to Ron’s character and personality that he could have had an impact on a normally aloof person like my mom.

One of the things we did on that trip was to drop off a college colleague at Billy Mitchell Field.  On the way back from the airport, my mother was navigating the streets of Bay View as she listened to the college chatter in her car.  Suddenly, from the back seat, Ron piped up, “Mrs. Thornbery, I think we might be going the wrong way. “ And yes, we were going south instead of north on Kinnickinnic.  Now, my mom knew Bay View well, as my dad had grown up there as a boy and his brother lived there for seventy years. In telling that story and laughing at herself, Mrs. Thornbery saw Ron Schwertfeger as the hero of her tale.

After college, I moved to Atlanta. Ron and I lost touch.  In early 2021, however, upon  learning of the death of his younger brother Jim, I briefly reconnected with him through a letter and through email.  It would have been hard for either of us to believe that a year later his wife would be dead and that in less than two years Ron would pass as well.

I would like to close with a paragraph from Ron’s email, written on January 24, 2021, for it supplements things that are in his obituary.  He wrote as follows: 

"I worked at a number of sales jobs over the years ending with 18 years as a manufacture's rep. covering eastern Wisconsin and the UP of Michigan selling  equipment to process liquid and solid materials.  Mary and I spent 20 years in Whitefish Bay and the past 20 in Mequon.  I am now retired since 2008, playing  golf, tennis and platform tennis in the fall and winter months.  I also enjoy investing in the stock market.  As I age my memory is becoming more and more "fuzzy."  I vaguely remember your cottage "get away" but not the trip to Ripon.  I still play cribbage with friends."

Ron Schwertfeger was just a super fellow.  I am a better person for knowing him

                                                                                    Jerry Thornbery

                                                                                    December 17, 2022



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