1938 - 2014
Joseph D. Schwerin, world traveler, accomplished sportsman and brilliant raconteur, died on Monday, April 21, 2014. He was 75.
Thrice a husband, thrice a father, Joe played hard and took pride in working as little as possible. Known for the generosity of his heart and the hospitality of his home, he made living well more than "the best revenge"; he made of it an art.
Joe was born in 1938 in the malodorous city of Passaic, N.J., to Joseph Schwerin a heifer breeder, and Agnes McCurry, a schoolteacher. After attending Yale University, he enlisted in the Navy and was given an honorable discharge in 1962. He married Polly Pratt, who would bear him three daughters: Jennifer, Leslie, and Christina.
After earning a law degree and working on Wall Street-- in what capacity, no one seems very clear--he started playing high-stakes craps and poker in Nassau and Atlantic City, living for three years on a sailboat he named "Vesper," a martini cocktail invented by James Bond in Casino Royale.
In 1977, he found himself on the Margaree River on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia. He fell in love with Margaree native Anita Coady, and married her in 1991. He became the Archdruid of Foxhole Farm, a gifted power-lounger and, after a particularly devastating supper, Lord of the Fainting Couch.
In business, Joe was anything but risk-averse. He took joy in nurturing a great idea and supporting the people who came up with it. And he had many great ideas of his own, though not all came to fruition: His plan to harvest the abductor muscle of the Giant Pacific Clam to sell as an aphrodisiac, for example, never went anywhere. His ideas were bigger than his bank account, but that never stopped him.
He took enormous pleasure in a good story well told and well embellished. No one who saw his face light up when he heard one will ever forget it. He was a man of large appetites; and he loved and hated on a large scale. He hated petty bureaucrats and bad wine; political correctness and peanut butter; mediocrity and all the incomprehensible digital devices with which the modern world plagued him.
He loved smart women, beautiful women and butter; the ocean and a good book; fishing, hunting and laughter. He adored his wife Anita and his three daughters and his four grandchildren, Sam, Ella, Charlotte and Franz.
Having spent many years as a gambler, Joe didn't end up as one. By the final curtain, he was living as close to a sure bet as mortals can hope for. He'd crafted his life with the care of a sculptor, inspiring a home shaped by the enthusiasm and warmth of his personality; it was his great work to have shared this way of life with those he loved and shown them how it was done.
Joe's masterpiece and legacy was a life well lived – which is the ultimate story well told.
Published on NYTimes.com from May 5 to May 6, 2014