March 5, 1926 - April 11, 2020 Don Schwartz died on April 11, 2020 at 94; he was tired.He was born on March 5, 1926 in Brooklyn, New York, and grew up on the east coast during the years of the Great Depression. As a result, he never threw a thing away. He owned the world's largest collection of food storage containers, but also letters, mementos, books, and other evidence of an attentive life. He had an equally prodigious memory for useful or hilarious facts and an intelligence to match his collections. He recalled everything he read, and he read widely. If you described a symptom to him, he located the page in the medical textbook on which the symptom was described and the malady identified. Curious about and interested in everything, he loved conversation; in fact, he would often excuse himself to research a topic on his computer and return with more information. If you had a problem -- personal, administrative, or otherwise -- he would listen and give counsel, keep his mouth shut, or suggest you think again. Indeed, his best advice was often, "Don't be too sure," a motto of which he became so fond that he recorded it on buttons for UCLA's graduating residents and then later for family and friends. He was kind, generous, and very, very funny.He graduated from Erasmus Hall High School in Brooklyn in 1942 and started college at the University of Michigan at the age of 16. Because the army needed doctors, medical schools accepted applications after two years of pre-medical work, so he applied in 1943 and was accepted at the age of 17 to Western Reserve Medical School in Cleveland, to begin June 1945. His plans were interrupted when he was drafted into the army in October 1944. Medical school would wait. Sent to Luzon in the Philippines as a rifleman replacement in March 1945, Don was converted promptly to a medical aide. He joined the 127th Infantry regiment of the 32nd (Red Arrow) division on the Villa Verde Trail where they were fighting the next-to-last battle of the Luzon campaign. He remained with the medical detachment and was waiting with his regiment on the beach at Bauang to invade the Japanese home islands, when the world's first atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the Pacific war ended. The division went to Kyushu, Japan in October of 1945 as occupiers rather than invaders. Don joined the 25th division on Honshu as chief non-commissioned officer to a clearing station hospital near the city of Maizuru on an inlet of the sea of Japan. He was repatriated and discharged in October of 1946 as a technical sergeant (E-6). During that year, he learned to know the Japanese as fellow human beings rather than as "the enemy," a lesson that shaped his practice of medicine and more. He always said that the army is where he grew up.He finished college at USC and entered medical school at Western Reserve (now Case Western Reserve) University in 1948, graduating in 1952. While in Cleveland he met his future wife, Ann Siena. Three days after his graduation, they were married and two days later she returned with him to Los Angeles where he began his internship at the old Cedars of Lebanon Hospital in Hollywood. They described their early marriage as filled with little money, lots of laughs, onion sandwiches, and their first "child," an adorable but neurotic collie-shepherd. Many more dogs, and the occasional child, would follow. And later dinners at the Schwartz house were a bit more robust: great food, fabulous wine, family, friends, and laughter (the humor more scandalous, the laughter more raucous if Don's brother Howard Jeffrey was in attendance). Don's internship was followed by a five-year residency in psychiatry with the California Department of Mental Hygiene, working at Langley Porter Clinic in San Francisco, Patton State Hospital in San Bernardino, and UCLA, which had opened a new medical center in Westwood. Following his years as chief deputy of the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health from 1961 to 1969, he returned to UCLA to head up the newly amalgamated division of adult psychiatry in 1971. Don remained attached to the UCLA department of psychiatry in various capacities until his retirement from the university in 1991. His students and colleagues said he was the smartest man they ever met: Don said, "don't be too sure." Ann and Don were married for 51 years and raised their three children, Nina, Julia, and Tony, in Los Angeles and Orange Counties. As parents, they were the envy of their children's friends: sane, loving, tolerant, trusting, yet never deluded about what was going on behind closed doors. While their children were making their way through school and Ann performing with South Coast Repertory, Don decided in 1974 to give up administrative medical work and devoted himself to teaching and a small private practice in Tustin where he saw patients until his retirement in 1993. Ann and Don moved back to Los Angeles in 2001 where Ann died three years later. Since then he has spent his time reading, cooking, listening to music, doing crossword puzzles in ink, and spending time with his children, grandchildren, and friends.Don knew sorrow in his life: he was predeceased by his parents but also by his younger brother Howard, by Ann, and by his granddaughter Emily Stolorow. But he continued to take interest in the world and pleasure in his children and remaining family members and friends. He is survived by his children Nina (Dennis Foster); Julia (Bob Stolorow and his children Lisa, Ben, and Stephanie); and Tony and his sons Daniel and Will Schwartz, and their mother Karen Frischmann; and by extended family and friends. A celebration of his life will take place when groups can safely gather. In lieu of flowers, consider a donation to a wolf conservation charity or an organization meaningful to you.
Published in Los Angeles Times from Apr. 16 to Apr. 19, 2020.