Richard M. Schwartz

Dear Classmates, members of the ’72 Class Council and other Yale friends,
I am saddened to inform you that I just learned of the passing this past Saturday of my dear friend and our fellow ’72 class council member, Richard Schwartz.
I have known Richard since our freshman year – we were in French class together – and we always enjoyed meeting each other at Yale events from time to time and reminiscing, sometimes in halting French, about our college days. Richard was a devoted, long-time volunteer for Yale and our class and I had even spoken to him recently about undertaking another volunteer assignment. At various points, Richard was our Class Secretary and a Class Agent – he was a good fund raiser for Yale – and he had been a member of the Class Council as long as I can remember. Richard was also very proud of serving as the music critic of the Yale Daily News and as a member of the Yale Orchestra. After graduation, Richard had the honor of being selected as a Mellon Fellow at Clare College, Cambridge. We are profoundly grateful for Richard’s extraordinary record of service to the Class of ’72 and Yale.
Wendy, Richard’s widow, has given me permission to send her email if you would like to express your condolences to her and the family. You may reach Wendy at
Our corresponding secretary, Bill Fowkes, is traveling out of the country for a few days and will place Richard’s obiturary and death notice on our web site when he returns from abroad.
This is the link to the New York Times obituary I received from Yale College which lists charities to which you may wish to contribute in Richard’s memory.
May our fond memories of our dear friend and classmate, Richard Schwartz, bring us some comfort during the days ahead and, on behalf of the Yale Class of 1972, I extend our deepest condolences to Wendy, his sons Isaac and Noah and the rest of his family.
​Rob Bildner
Secretary, Class of 1972​

Remarks by David J. Ehrlich February 24, 2015. Drafted in flight over the Persian Gulf and Iran February 23, 2015. Delivered at Frank E. Campbell February 24, 2015:

Wow. These are hard acts to follow. When Wendy asked me to speak, she didn’t mention the speaking order. It looks like I am what they used to call in the musical theatre the Eleven O’Clock number.

“How do you pinpoint the beginning of a forty-six-year friendship?

“Thank God for the German Measles. In the winter of 1969, many of us came down with high fevers in New Haven. Little did Richard and I know when we went to University Health for an aspirin that the bastards would lock us down in actual old- fashioned quarantine. That is how we got to know one another. I knew of Richard through Larry Alexander – can’t talk about Richard without thinking of Larry. The story goes that Richard and Larry each went to a Hillel mixer to meet girls and instead met one another. Anyway, there were dozens of us in lockdown. Richard was a budding reporter for the Yale Daily News and he decided to interview us on our thoughts about rubella. Or more to the point, our thoughts about imprisonment. Richard was a bit of a hypochondriac, and the picture in my mind’s eye is of Richard going around this retro open ward with one hand holding pen and notebook and the other hand clutching his forehead. He filed the story from a pay phone in the stairwell.

“Spring break in Key West, 1970. One car. Five men. One woman. Two beds. Fill in the blanks.


“Summer of 1972, working for the EPA downtown on the 23rd floor of the Municipal Building. Richard actually got his start in the environmental world on a Sanitation Department payroll line, arranged by Orin. Eating lengthy lunches every day, we discovered Forlini’s diced pork chops, one of the great under-the-radar menu items in New York. Perhaps this was how Richard got his start as a foodie.

“Dinners in London and Paris and Rome. I remember a standing room only bus on the via Nazionale in Rome, in the 1970s. We were probably on the way to Piperno to eat carciofi alla giudea. Richard and I were hanging onto the overhead straps. There was this little old man. Very old, at least 60. And very short, too short to reach above us, and we were not exactly giants. So this man looked Richard in the eye and grabbed onto the crook of Richard’s arm and rode through Rome as though Richard was part of the bus. I never saw Richard laugh so hard.

“I knew a girl who was studying piano at Yale. She had a girlfriend who was studying voice. And there came a time when I introduced that light lyric, Coeducated Cole Porter soprano to Richard. Her name was Wendy and that worked out pretty well.


“Many dinner parties with filet roasts cooked by my mother in our house on Farley Road in Short Hills. And later, pool side afternoons with Alex in Short Hills, when my dad made a point of including Isaac and Noah. My parents absolutely adored Richard.

“Decades of annual Christmas book lunches at P. J. Clarke’s or Blue Smoke or Sidecar with Orin, Larry, Joe, Kit, Bill and Stuart. I don’t think any of us know exactly when those lunches started, although if anyone diarized it, it would have been Richard. Their time and place was always announced by an oyez from Richard.

“So many books, operas, plays to discuss. A few weeks ago I brought Richard a copy of The Hard Problem, the new play by Tom Stoppard. It was a modest paperback, but I included the cash register receipt from the National Theatre bookshop, time stamped with the date of the opening night, so that it could take its place in Richard’s meticulously curated collection of musical manuscripts and theatrical first editions.

“We didn’t get a second chance to discuss the play. This time we were sorely misled by our undergraduate education. In real life you don’t always get an automatic extension.


“Do all of these shared experiences make us blood brothers? Well, for a start I guess we share the rubella titer in our bloodstream.

“The people we love live on long after their death, because we knew them so well that they are present vividly, almost literally, in our memories.

“A few days ago I was on the verandah of a Fawlty Towers hotel in southern Sri Lanka with really bad WiFi. When email came through it carried devastating news. In my shock and grief I had absolutely no idea what to do. And then in a burst of clarity I could hear my father saying David, it’s Richard, get on a plane.

“So just as my father, who died fifteen years ago, is part of my day-to-day life, I know that Richard will be with me, and will be with us, every day.”


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