FLORENCE - Merrill ‘Lefty’ Mandle Schwartz, 83, of Florence passed away on Sunday, March 25 and his loving wife Theresa Ann Schwartz, 83, passed away on Friday, March 23 at St. Patrick Hospital, both of natural causes.
Lefty was born August 30, 1929 in Memphis, Tennessee where he attended public schools and thence began his university studies until he entered flight training to become a Naval aviator in May 1950.
Immediately before his enlistment he was a U.S.F.S.
firefighter based out of Missoula, and notably worked on the Mann Gulch fire cleanup, being one of the first support personnel to arrive onsite after the tragedy occurred.
Lefty was honorably discharged in 1955 after flying patrol bombers and helicopters, and for many years held the record for flying farther north then anyone at that time in a rotary winged aircraft.
He married Ann on August 27, 1955 after discharge from the service and completed his formal education in 1957, graduating from Louisiana State University with a degree in Forestry Sciences.
He worked in the wood machinery and real estate business in Memphis until he moved his family to Florence, Montana in the fall of 1971.
During his years in Tennessee Lefty spent generous amounts of time working with the Boy Scouts, exploring and boating on the Mississippi River, hunting and fishing, and participating in various local civil organizations.
After moving to Montana in 1971 Lefty was a partner in the Missoula Blueprint Company until his retirement in 1993, and Ann continued raising their family and sharing time with her friends in Montana.
Both were known for their wonderful and caring personalities, and they always had time for a humorous story or to welcome a guest.
Lefty was widely known as a master model aircraft builder and was always happy to help many others become involved in that hobby.
And, as an Eagle Scout he was also very happy to support local scouts and their leaders in many activities.
He inspired many young scouts to succeed in life, and took great pleasure in helping others through his wonderful humor and engaging personality.
Ann was born May 30, 1929 in Greenwood, Mississippi, where she graduated from public schools and thence attended the University of Mississippi, graduating with a degree in Education.
Upon graduation she worked as a teacher in southern Louisiana, often working with special needs students in rural areas.
She enjoyed gardening, watercolor painting, playing bridge, traveling, and socializing with her many friends in the Florence area.
She was widely known as an extremely talented and creative cook, specializing in wonderful Southern and Cajun dishes.
Ann was always willing to lend a helping hand whenever needed.
She actively supported her local church and library and particularly enjoyed helping out at the annual church bazaar, and also was quite active in the Philanthropic Education Organization.
Survivors include their sons, Michael, his wife Svetlana, Missoula: Kenneth, his wife Linda, Colbert, Washington; Lefty’s brother Robert, his wife Laura, Memphis, TN; Ann’s sister Martha Cile Dean, Cleveland, MS; grandchildren Jeremy, Duvall, WA, Danielle and her husband Nathan, Spokane, WA; and one great-grandchild, Logan Merrill, Duvall, WA.
A ceremony celebrating the life of this cherished couple will be held April 7 at the Florence Carlton Community Church at 12:00 pm in Florence.
The family suggests memorials be sent in their memory care of Farmers State Bank, Florence, Montana to be distributed to Ann’s and Lefty’s favorite charities.
Condolences and memories may be left for the family at www.whitesittfuneralhome.com.