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Leo Joseph Schwartz, 85, of Washington, died on July 5, 2024, on the family farm north of Washington, where he and his wife, Sharon, lived for 65 years.

The wake was held Tuesday, July 9, from 1 to 7 p.m. at the Ward Funeral Home in Washington. The family received friends from 5 to 7 p.m.

The funeral service will be held on Wednesday, July 10th at 10 a.m. at the Washington Christian Church in Washington. Rev. Eli Sweany will officiate. Music for the service will include “Buy Dirt,” “How Great Thou Art,” and “Crackling Rose.”

Pallbearers will be Larry Schwartz, Tom Schwartz, Brock Schwartz, Cody Schwartz, Drake MacFarlane, Brett Vogt, Kent Stewart, Gregg Stewart, Greg Knedlik, Dana Cecrle, Gary Edgar and Randy Alldredge.

Burial will take place at Washington City Cemetery.

Leo was born on June 17, 1939, in rural Hanover to Tom and Mary (Wilson) Schwartz. Leo attended Limestone School near his family’s home in rural Hanover. He graduated from Hanover High School in 1957. After high school, he moved to Salina, where he worked in construction for his uncle for a year and then returned to work on the family farm with his father.

In 1958, Leo brought his high school sweetheart, Sharon Jane Mueller, home from college in California and met her at the bus station in Salina with an engagement ring. Leo and Sharon were married on August 25, 1959. At that time, Leo and Sharon purchased the farm where they still live today north of Washington. To this union were born two children: Douglas (Natalie) Schwartz of Washington and Cheri (Mike) Jacques of Manchester, Tennessee; grandchildren Brock, Cody and Jenna Schwartz, Drake and Morgan MacFarlane, Brett and Taylor Vogt; and great-grandchildren Ava, Isaac, Hudson Schwartz, Cooper and Layton Schwartz, Makai Schwartz, Blakely Vogt, Brett Loader and Brandon Loader.

Leo’s parents died before him.

He is survived by siblings Larry Schwartz of Abilene, KS, Mary Ann Schwartz, Gilbert, AZ, Rose Michaels, Lincoln, NE, Tom Schwartz, Abilene, KS, and Donna Hageman, Manhattan, KS.

Leo led a life as an avid farmer, earning FFA State Farmer and Star State Farmer awards at age 18, followed three years later by the FFA American Farmer Award. He passed his love and skill of farming on to his son and grandchildren, who also received Star Farmer awards. Over the years, Leo also held a number of leadership positions, including President of the Kansas Pork Producers and the USD 222 Board of Education, where he received a Merit Award for his work in education between 1977 and 1989.

In 1959, Leo and Sharon merged their beef and dairy operations and quickly transitioned to raising pigs. During their marriage, they operated a 200-sow operation that they were able to train to terminal sow status. The farm revolved around raising pigs and growing row crops. When he wasn’t in the field, he spent his days feeding, sorting, loading, and working with pigs. Leo hired many high school students to help on the farm. Even his own brother, Tom, had the opportunity to work for him. When you came to Schwartz Family Farms, you could expect Leo to teach you the perfection you needed to master the art of successful animal and crop farming. Those who have worked for Leo Schwartz all have a story to tell. All would agree that with Leo, you always knew where you stood.

Leo loved to socialize and always had time for conversation and dancing. He loved to have a good meal in the evenings, have at least one or three strong drinks, and enjoy the company of his dear Jane. Dancing with Sharon brought great joy to both of them. For 40 years, Leo was a diehard K-State fan and they spent many weekends and nights cheering on the Wildcat football and basketball teams. Leo was loyal and dedicated, supporting his wife Sharon in her political endeavors as she traveled around the country.

Leo’s greatest love was “Jane” Sharon Schwartz, closely followed by farming. He lived and died for the soil and what it could produce with God’s help and his own hands. Leo rarely rested; he was constantly on the move, fixing things, tending livestock, and growing crops.

Leo was very proud of the beauty of his land and how much he cared for his homestead. He loved to lure birds closer and closer to his house, unless they were barn swallows, which he would chase away with a passion. As tough as Leo was on the outside, he was tender and loving towards his wife “Jane”. He always remembered her birthday and anniversary with bouquets of beautiful red roses. When he could no longer help operate a combine or drive a tractor, he lovingly cared for everything that grew around his house. He had a passion for flowers, especially hollyhocks and roses. He made sure to plant hollyhocks around almost every building on the farm.

Leo rests in peace and it is a great comfort to his family to know that he is no longer in pain and can enjoy a bountiful harvest from heaven.

A memorial fund will be established for Washington County Hospital or the Alzheimer’s Association. Donations may be sent to Ward Funeral Home in Washington.

Washington County News • July 11, 2024