June 8, 1920 — Nov. 21, 2013
Robert Stanley Schwerin was born June 8, 1920, in Ritzville, Wash., the son of Charles August and Etta Studley Schwerin. Bob graduated from Ritzville High School and studied engineering at Washington State University. During World War II, Bob joined the Boeing Corporation as an engineer and was part of the team that designed and built the B-17 bomber. While at WSU, he met Frances Rea of Walla Walla. They married in Walla Walla on Feb. 14, 1942. Bob and Fran returned to Walla Walla to help Fran’s parents, Greene and Myrtle Rea, on their farm near Dixie, forming the Rea-Schwerin Farm partnership and raising three sons, Larry, Bill and Don.
A lifelong farmer, Bob worked alongside his crews and his boys during pea and wheat harvest. His engineering background and commitment to smart innovation was always put into use on the farm, improving machinery and processes for greater efficiency. In the 1970s, Bob’s process for enhancing the part of a combine responsible for separating grain from chaff became a manufacturing business, Schwerin Concaves, that served farmers throughout the U.S. and Canada. After his retirement from active farming and manufacturing, Bob continued to design equipment, deliver parts around the Northwest and represent the company at agricultural trade shows across the United States.
Bob was a visionary leader, skilled at bringing people together around issues, and his commitment to improvement and innovation did not stop at the farm. As one of the founding members of the Washington Association of Wheat Growers, he helped to build an organization that successfully represents growers to this day in both Washingtons. He was also a founder of the Oregon-Washington Pea Growers’ Association and a founding director of Agri-Enterprises, Inc., an entity dedicated to agricultural research and pea harvesting equipment adaptation. Bob was elected to the Washington Wheat Commission in the 1980s, serving as president for two years, and was the commission’s delegate to the U.S. Wheat Growers’ Association, where he advocated on behalf of the wheat industry at the national level. His knowledge of and experience in agriculture was routinely consulted by elected officials, and he was a regular district-level adviser to U.S. Reps. Catherine May and Tom Foley. To ensure generations of strong agricultural leaders, Bob was a founder of the Washington Ag Forestry program, an intensive two-year leadership development program with a focus on public policy advocacy for young men and women working in agriculture, timber and related industries. His leadership was present in other organizations as well, including the United Way, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, the Dixie School Board, 4-H, and the Walla Walla Rural Library.
Bob will be remembered as a gentleman who brought everyone to the table. He was someone people regularly turned to when a difficult point had to be made in a gracious manner. He was a man of vision who used his skills and abilities to make a lasting difference in many ways. His family remembers him as the most loving and supportive man in the world who was always there for them, always actively engaged in their interests, and always asking the tough questions with respect and dignity.
Bob is survived by Frances, his wife of 71 years. He is survived by his sons and their spouses, Larry and Carol Schwerin of Hansville, Wash., Bill and Lynda Schwerin of Walla Walla and Don and Anne-Marie Schwerin, also of Walla Walla; four grandchildren; five great-grandchildren; and two nieces. He was preceded in death by his brother, Don Schwerin; and sister, Virginia Brown.
Funeral service will be Saturday, Nov. 30, 2013, at 11 a.m. at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. Visitation without viewing on Monday, Nov. 25, 2013, and Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2013, from 1 – 5 p.m. at Herring Funeral Home. Memorial contributions may be made to Walla Walla Community Hospice, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, the YWCA of Walla Walla, or Washington Ag Forestry Foundation through Herring Funeral Home, 315 W. Alder, Walla Walla, WA 99362. Family and friends are invited to sign the online guest book at www.herringgroseclose.com.