Work ethic, generosity: Schwebach's legacy
January 15. 2013 3:20PM
A life of hard work, love of family and love of country ended for Mary Schwebach on Dec. 26, but those who new the Dell Rapids business women and dedicated wife, mother and grandmother say the impact she made on her community won’t soon be forgotten.
Mary, 91, of Dell Rapids passed away at the Good Samaritan Village in Sioux Falls.
“She loved to stay busy,” said Patricia Deis, one of Mary’s four children.
One of 12 children, Mary’s attention to detail and a never ending call to be productive started for Mary as a child growing up on the family farm north of Dell Rapids without a mother.
“When she was just a baby, not much over a year old, her mother died in child birth,” said Paula Meyer, Mary’s eldest daughter.
“She grew up with her sisters, the older ones took care of her and the younger ones she grew up with.”
Mary was the only one of the siblings to graduate high school.
“She was very self-sufficient,” Deis said. “She grew up knowing if she didn’t do something for herself, it wasn’t going to happen.”
Mary always made it happen.
While attending high school at St. Mary’s Academy in the 1930s, Mary, then a Mergen, met her future husband Francis, a fellow student who happened to drive the school bus Mary rode every day.
“I think it’s kind of a love story, really,” Meyer said. “They didn’t date in high school but they did when they got of high school (in 1939).”
After dating for a spell, Francis was called to serve in World War II in 1942 and Mary packed up everything she owned into one trunk and one small suitcase and moved to Omaha, Neb. to attend secretary and bookkeeping school, academics that would land her a civil service role in the military until the war ended.
“She and dad wrote back and forth to each other during the war but they didn’t see each other for three years,” Meyer said.
In April 1946, the two were married and began a family that would leave a large footprint on the Dell Rapids community.
“They lived downtown above what used to be Schwebach Electric. Then dad broke away from his brothers and started Schwebach Plumbing in 1960,” Meyer said.
Mary was very much a part of the new business, watching the business’s revenues and expense like a hawk, always keeping the family business in the black.
“She was a meticulous bookkeeper,” Meyer said. “Even up until last year when she was 90 years old, living in her own house, she kept a ledger and she could tell you what she spent down to the penny.”
Mary’s dedication to the family business spilled over into the community at large, Deis said, through efforts to attract new families and businesses to Dell Rapids.
“They were very supportive of the community,” Deis said.
“Dell Rapids was very important. They always bought local and that helped bring other businesses to town.”
Until her final years, Mary continued to help local businesses in Dell Rapids, especially Padre’s thrift store where she sorted clothes two days a week.
“She stayed busy, taking care of her home, taking care of her yard, taking care of her lake cabin,” Meyer said.
Mary is survived by her two sons, Lynn Schwebach of Greenville, S.C. and Rand Schwebach of Sioux Falls; her two daughters, Meyer Deis, her sixteen grandchildren and eleven great-grandchildren; and her sister, Alverda Neary of Rapid City.