Paso Robles recently lost a longtime city parks and education booster.
Mary Studer Schwartz — together with her husband, Dale, a Paso Robles councilman and philanthropist who died in 2006 — donated money that led to the creation of a much-used park and the expansion of Cuesta College’s North County campus.
She died on Friday at age 90 of respiratory failure, according to her niece, Judy Rutter, a San Luis Obispo resident.
Schwartz moved to Paso Robles with her first husband, Frank Studer, in the 1950s, when “there was nothing here,” Rutter said. Studer died in 1983, and she married Dale Schwartz in 2000.
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Together, the Schwartzes improved their city. They raised money to help create Barney Schwartz Park near Union Road and Highway 46 East, which opened in 2002 and was named after Dale’s brother, a longtime Paso Robles mayor.
The couple even made weekly trips to the park to help pick up trash. In 2006, the couple received the Bob Alesi Volunteer of the Year Award from the city for their work on the park.
“Trash encourages trash,” Schwartz said in a 2006 Tribune story on garbage in Paso Robles. “Have people no pride in their city?”
The Schwartzes also made major contributions to Cuesta College, which helped make the school’s North County campus a reality. They created the Schwartz Family and Schwartz-Studer scholarships for students in need, and the school named the North County Learning Resource Center after them in 2010.
Mary and Dale were also given the Community College Benefactors award in 2010, a national honor that recognizes philanthropists to two-year higher education institutions.
Angela Mitchell, a Cuesta College trustee, called Schwartz a wonderful volunteer for Paso Robles who did a lot to help support Cuesta College. “And not only just Cuesta, but the whole Paso Robles community,” Mitchell said. “She volunteered for years for the chamber of commerce, and if you ever had a question, she’d be there at the desk and she’d pick up the phone and she knew all the answers to all the history and everything all the time. ...
“She was phenomenal. I can’t say enough.”
In addition to Schwartz’s legacy of charitable giving, Schwartz was a beloved aunt and grandmother-like figure, Rutter said. Although Schwartz had no children of her own, she took joy in spending time with her great-nieces and nephews, Rutter said.
“She was such an outgoing personality,” Rutter said. “Everybody liked her.”
Tribune reporter Lucas Clark contributed to this story.