Recently, Richard Schwartz, a terrific person, my friend, and a friend to the IPPF, passed away. Richard had a very bad case of pemphigus when we first talked many years ago. But no matter how difficult a time he was having, he always was hopeful and positive.
For several years, Richard led the Houston Support Group. Several years ago, I visited with Richard and Karen during a support group meeting. They were so gracious and offered me a room in their home, to stay while I was in Houston. On a day off, he showed me around Houston and the NASA Space Center. We had a terrific day. Even after the group disbanded, Richard was always there to help others.
For many years he was in remission – had no disease, and was on no drugs. Unfortunately, he developed bladder cancer. When the IPPF started the Health Management Program, Richard called me and said he wanted to be a part of it even though he was still in remission from his pemphigus. I was so happy to hear from him, but in his always upbeat, matter-of-fact manner he told me about his cancer. I was very sad to hear about it, but he assured me that he was okay and that they had gotten it all.
Karen, Richard’s wife, contacted me in October 2009 and told me that Richard had passed away. I cannot say how sad I was to hear that news. He was such a vibrant personality and just a great, real guy. I asked her if I could write a memorial to him for the IPPF Community. Karen wrote this to me:
“He really cared so much about the IPPF. When he was first diagnosed we felt so alone. It seems that so many of the wound care treatments were basically trial and error. We were very lucky to be in Houston at this time and under the wonderful care of Dr. (Robert) Jordon, but as far as at home care we pretty much on our own.
It was a terrible few months and we so wished that there were more people out there to talk with. Richard wanted so much to be a help to anyone who was diagnosed and needed questions answered…not medical, but everyday questions on living with the disease. He often went to people’s homes and visited with them and also talked on the phone or by e-mail to people all over the world. I know it would mean a lot to him, as it does to me, for you to write a Memorial to him. He always was a supporter of the Foundation, as I will continue to be.”
I, as I know many of you do also, send Karen and her family our sincerest condolences. Richard helped me and many others. His family can find comfort in knowing how many people truly admired Richard.
I know that I do.