Charles Schwartz

Obituary of Charles Richard Schwartz

Our beloved father, grandfather, great-grandfather, cousin, uncle, and friend, passed away on Friday, April 19, 2024 in Eagan, MN, at the age of 88. He is preceded in death by his parents; siblings; son, Jeffrey; son-in-law, Orlin Te Slaa, and grandson, Teddy Taft.

He is survived by his wife, Gwendolyn, of 68 years; his children, Julie Te Slaa, Greg (Teresa) Schwartz, Deb (Brian) Taft, Jonathan (Annie) Schwartz, and Stephanie (Steve) Galloway; grandchildren, Melissa Gonzales, Ryan (Emily) Ritchie, Anddi Schwartz, Chris Schwartz, Joshua (Crystal) Schwartz, Brittany (Jesse) Sievers, Dan Schwartz, Elise (Andy) Pickle, Brianna Galloway, Granger (Breanna) Taft, Charlie (Miriam) Schwartz, Eric (Steph) Schwartz, Logan (Catherine) Taft, AJ (Brittany) Schwartz, Sean Galloway, Emily (Chad) Schwartz, and Sarah (Brian) McAlister-Schwartz; and great-grandchildren, Connor, Tanner, Hattie, Bentley, Asher, Tristan, Ezra, Kennedy, Zivah, Reveille, Owen, Jack, Arlo, Daxton, Lilly, Zeke, Benji, Oliver, Matilda, Ellie, Samson, and one more on the way.

Charles, or Chuckie-Charles-Richard-Dicky-Toothless-Schwartz as he often told people he was called, was born in Minneapolis, on June 10, 1935, to Adolph and Esther (Fingerhut) Schwartz. After spending much of his childhood living between California and Minnesota with various relatives, he fell for his North Minneapolis neighbor, a young Norwegian woman who would become the love of his life: Gwen Henderson. And for Gwen’s part, the sidewalks were never more clean, as she would go out to sweep just to get a look at the handsome guy next door. Charles and Gwen, lovestruck teenagers, were courageous enough to venture out against the wishes of family members to get married in Yuma, AZ, on November 8, 1955.

Charles was an entrepreneur his entire life, leveraging his scrappy, resourceful nature to do whatever it took to take care of his family members while he was in school, helping to feed them and put his brother through college. Leaving high school after the tenth grade, he was ready to get out into the world and make his mark, he had bigger dreams. He was given a job in the family business where he quickly worked his way from broomboy to seat cover engineer, eventually landing in the Executive Suite as Vice President. There he managed the Fingerhut plant in St. Cloud, MN. He retired at the age of 52 because Gwen would not allow him to retire a day sooner, but not before he dabbled in a variety of business ventures; he was a production manager on a thriller movie and owned racehorses. A highlight in his career was producing records and shows for the singing duo Tony Sandler and Ralph Young, including Las Vegas Marquees, a period that had him brushing shoulders with celebrities like Sammy Davis Jr. and Liberace. Well-played positions in the stock market would support him and Gwen in their later years.

The Fingerhut job had Charles traveling to far-flung corners of Asia and Europe, often joined by the spirited Gwen. Their love of perfect weather led to the purchase of a condo in Kihei, Maui, where they wintered for more than 30 years and loved hosting family and friends. In addition to traveling, Chuck was heavily involved in politics in St. Cloud, MN, and enjoyed playing card games, fishing at Bad Axe Lake, going on picnics, and holding, playing, and joking around with his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. He and Gwen also initiated the tradition of taking each grandchild on a trip after they turned 8 years old, many of whom he taught how to swim, dive, and the art of haggling.

His family will remember how he touched countless people and made their lives better (some in small ways and some in big ways), how his sense of humor could enliven a room, how his right eye would squeeze shut and eject tears if you were quick enough to make him belly laugh. His affable charm drew so many to him, and because of his integrity and loyalty, most people stuck around. He leaves an amazing legacy built over his 88 years - may it live on in all of us blessed to have known him.

Family will determine plans for a celebration of life at a later time.

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