Former City Councilman Ed Schwartz, 69, dies

Ed Schwartz
Ed Schwartz
Posted: November 30, 2012

FORMER PHILADELPHIA City Councilman, civic leader and piano player Ed Schwartz died Thursday morning at age 69.

Schwartz had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 2010 but had been feeling better and was frequently spotted attending Council's weekly Thursday sessions. He last attended two weeks ago, before the Thanksgiving break.

The cause of death has not been determined. Jane Shull, Schwartz's wife, suspects that he died from a heart attack.

"He had a pretty serious heart condition that could not be addressed anymore," Shull said. "He'd been living with that."

Shull said Schwartz fell into a deep depression after being diagnosed with Alzheimer's, which made the condition worse. As the depression lifted this year, his health improved. She described him as "forgetful but still himself." He had returned to playing piano with a band at the Reading Terminal Market.

"His quality of life was much better in the last year," Shull said.

Mark Seaman, director of communications at Philadelphia FIGHT, a nonprofit where Shull is executive director, said Schwartz was "a big fan" of the recent general election, following it closely.

"He was getting a lot of social interaction, going to City Council," Seaman said. "He was doing well."

Schwartz was elected to a Council at-large seat in 1983 and, after losing re-election, was named head of the Office of Housing and Community Development from 1987 to 1992. He also chaired the Philadelphia Tax Reform Commission in 2003 and founded the Institute for the Study of Civic Values.

There was a moment of silence for Schwartz during Thursday's Council session, and members reflected on the man whom they admired most for his passion for community service.

"Councilman Schwartz was the classic neighborhood activist who, once in public office, expanded his megaphone broadly so that many other voices could be heard," said Council President Darrell Clarke. "He was able to transform his activism into sound public policy on a number of issues, particularly with regard to housing. He understood better than most in this business that Philadelphia is a city of neighborhoods, and that all are worthy of our care and attention."

Councilwoman Cindy Bass said Schwartz was a neighbor and a friend who helped her throughout her political career, adding, "He will be sorely missed as a progressive voice here in Philadelphia."

Councilman Bill Greenlee was a staffer for the late former Councilman David Cohen when Schwartz served.

"He was real passionate about helping people," Greenlee said. "The regular guy was important to him."

" @ChrisBrennanDN


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