Fred Schwartz was a warm and lovable member of Swaziland 1, the first Peace Corps volunteer group to serve in Swaziland.
Fred died on January 11, 1970 in a highway auto accident near Piggs Peak that also took the life of South African volunteer Marcia Silver. Fred was serving as a rural development worker and engaged in a project to create a national woodcraft industry.
Across the years we Swaziland 1 Volunteers warmly remember Fred:
“I still remember well the shock of Fred’s accident. I didn’t really know Fred too much in training but we did have a wonderful weekend in Mozambique with some Portuguese friends.My memory was that he was smart and funny. What a nice combination.” -Jack Wolfe
“Fred Schwartz was a natural leader and a gung-ho friend. We had many adventures in Swaziland and never saw the dangers. It was an honor to serve with him in the experience of our lifetimes.” -Chris Matthews
“Since Fred and I were stationed at opposite ends of the country we didn’t have much contact, but it was obvious whenever we met that Fred was one of the best spirits in our “bandla”. I’ve attached the only photos [above] I made of Fred while we were there. -Steve Hank
“I remember visiting the Nsangwini Bushman Cave Paintings up in Fred’s territory somewhere in Piggs Peak, Swaziland. I would never have discovered this delightful, historical site if Fred hadn’t introduced me to the area.” -Jennifer Gill
I never saw him angry or put down anyone-he was a sweet, funny mellow and fun guy to be around.”-Cliff Sears
“Fred was the first Swaziland volunteer I met. We shared a plane ride to Baton Rouge enroute to training in Baker, LA. I remember being struck by the contrast between his excitement and enthusiasm, and my own apprehension. It was impossible to be around Fred without being drawn into his love of life and people and the things around him. He was a joyful force.” -Mike Ascolese
I’m flooded by memories of the times I spent with Fred in training and in Swaziland – among them: the clattering of the bamboo outside his residence in Hhohho, the evenings at Giulio Tambalo’s café in Piggs Peak, and (for those others of you who were fortunate enough to be there) the afternoon in Manzini when Fred regaled us campfire-style with the adventures of Fester Bestertester and Carbuncle. My sides still ache from laughing. His wit, energy and love of life were infectious and his loss was crushing. Thinking about it now brings me close to tears. -Phil Peters (Pelepele)
“When we read the letters from Fred written while he was in Swaziland, it was apparent that he had been touched so deeply by the people there—his fellow Peace Corps Volunteers and also the Swazi people that he lived and worked alongside. I truly believe that it would have impacted his world view even after his time there. Again, thanks so much for your efforts on this project—it has made Fred come to the forefront of my mind after so many years. It is true that no one is really gone as long as someone remembers them.” -Peggy Wallert [Fred’s Sister]
“We gathered for a memorial for Fred. I forget where. Our usually rowdy spirits were sobered, our always talkative group not finding words, looking at each other waiting for someone to say something. We had all had the scary mountain rides with cows in the roads along precipices with no railings. We laughed them off with all the invulnerability of youth. Suddenly it could happen; it did happen. And we lost a warm, witty and brilliant friend.” -Lowell Boileau
I remember the farewell to Fred; not sure why we had it in Stegi but we had a lot of get togethers in Stegi. Somebody told me I spoke about Bertrand Russell in saying goodbye to Fred. I didn’t remember that and it wouldn’t have seemed the warmest choice, but probably true of me at the time. I always felt that I had only scratched the surface in getting to know Fred. I spent very little with him either in training or in country, but he had a very lasting impression on me from the outset, like, “Oh, this are the kind of people that join the Peace Corps.” I think I as somewhat intimidated by his depth. Really helped wake me up in a special way. Cn only begin to imagine what he would have achieved further in life. Fred O’Regan
Karen and I always looked forward to Fred’s visits as he usually brought liquor and cigarettes and would talk the night through. One of the worlds nice people. We still talk about him and miss him. Hope to see him again someday.
Lowell, we gathered for that memorial out in the bush near our place in Stegi. You brought the music… organ dirges.
Peggy, I must have met you when I passed through Salina and stayed with your family for a few nights in the summer of 1971. We even drove out to the Kansas countryside to visit Giulio Tambalo, Fred’s very dear friend from Swaziland.
Fred had a great, but natural, presence in theater. Actually, that was just Fred. He had the same presence in real life… intense, intelligent, loving and fun!