He was in the business of helping people
BY CATHY SCHWARTZ, ED SCHWARTZ, PAULA RYAN, JEAN WEISS AND ANN SCHWARTZ
Springfield lost an icon last month with the unexpected passing of Frank G. “Beaver” Schwartz, Jr. Officially, Beaver’s business was financial planning, specializing in life and disability insurance, but he always felt that he was “just in the business of helping people,” and that involved a lot more than insurance.
Beaver was a native of Springfield and grew up playing baseball all day “till we couldn’t see the ball due to darkness.” His pitching skills allowed him to attend the University of Illinois on a full baseball scholarship where he excelled, earning second team All-American honors. He took two years off to serve in the Army where he got to see the world and always said, “It made me realize there was nowhere else I wanted to be other than Springfield.” Upon graduating, he moved back and continued selling insurance for New England Life.
Beaver loved U of I and anything associated with it. His office was a museum of Illini memorabilia, ranging from Chief Illiniwek statues, framed Illini letterman letters, to pictures of his teammates and coaches, many of whom he kept in contact with his whole life. He claimed he developed real optimism by drinking beer at tailgates in Memorial Stadium as the Illini football team staggered through many seasons of losing records. He felt the important part of football weekends was not the game so much as tailgating, getting together and having fun with friends.
He felt strongly that the university gave him the opportunity to go to college, play ball, travel the country and make lifelong friends, and he gave back any chance he could. He, along with many of his lifelong friends, helped restart and lay the groundwork for the dormant Springfield branch of the U of I Alumni Association, which is still active and flourishing today.
He often said that his success was the result of putting energy into activities that help people and that, “When you do the right thing and help people, it all comes back.” Being on the board and active in the American Business Club (ABC) was one of those activities. He loved that while they raised money for charity, the fun and the relationships were like “icing on top.” Beaver also was proud of helping to start and served on the board of the old Springfield Caps collegiate summer baseball league that played at Lanphier Ball Park. His dedication was recognized with his 2016 induction into the Springfield Sports Hall of Fame.
Beaver didn’t succeed by himself. He gave much of the credit to his wife and the love of his life, Fran (Fuhrwerk) Schwartz. He always said that without Franny being the glue holding the family together, he could have never put in the hours necessary to be successful. It did pay off as he became a top producer, making the Million Dollar Round Table for 51 consecutive years, Top of the Table (top one percent of all life sales) on many occasions and many other lifetime awards for consistent production. He was a natural in the world of life insurance both because he loved to connect with people – he always said that he never met a stranger – and he loved to help people. This extended beyond selling policies, it was a way of life.
Beaver just lived life large. Every minute was an opportunity. He had a huge caring heart and was incredibly generous with his time and boundless energy. He never forgot a friend or client, no matter how long he knew them. He was the guy who would make the rounds visiting sick friends or relatives or was the chief instigator in organizing get-togethers for friends who might need it. Wherever he went, he had the unique ability to make everyone feel good with a big smile, funny story, hug or a simple compliment.
Although he represented several companies over the years, including Connecticut Mutual, MassMutual and National Financial Partners, he always felt he represented himself and what was best for the client. He was proud that he never burnt a client and always did the right thing. True to his “clients first” motto, Beaver recently completed a merger with Brian Heckert of Financial Solutions Midwest to ensure continued quality support and care of his clients.
He wasn’t afraid to try new things. If he thought it, he did it, and his thinking was often outside of the box. He had no fear and no second-guessing. When their five kids were still young, he and Franny pulled a “Green Acres” and moved to the country without knowing how to ride a horse, run a tractor or milk a chicken (just seeing if you were paying attention). He worked with a business coach, before there was such a thing, that challenged how he saw life. He attended personal growth seminars and went around town hugging people for weeks afterwards. This same adventurous spirit had him traveling to Germany, driving to Notre Dame and then to North Carolina (where he saw every one of his children and grandkids), all in the six weeks prior to his passing.
At the age of 84, he didn’t feel or act old. He said, “I go just as hard as I did 20 years ago, I just take a few more naps in between.” In fact, his family takes comfort in knowing his joy of living, happiness and love of others was just as strong in his final day and that the impact he made helping others will live on.
Cathy Schwartz, Ed Schwartz, Paula Ryan, Jean Weiss and Ann Schwartz enjoy sharing fun memories of their beloved and one-of-a kind dad.