Richard Schwartz ’60, the namesake of the Schwartz Center for Performing Arts, died of pancreatic cancer complications this week at his home in Upper Nyack, New York. He was 77 years old.
The Schwartz Center was dedicated in 2001, after the longtime donor made a variety of contributions to Cornell. Schwartz and his wife also endowed the Richard J. Schwartz Directorship of the Johnson Museum and provided support for the renovation of Schwartz Auditorium — which was named after his father, David Schwartz — in Rockefeller Hall.
In addition to his support of art at Cornell, Schwartz also endowed the Richard J. Schwartz Professorship in Social Sciences, which at the time was held by Prof. Emeritus Isaac Kramnick, government.
Schwartz remained heavily involved at Cornell throughout his life, joining on the Cornell University Council in 1965, the College of Arts and Sciences Advisory Council in 1970 and working on the Johnson Museum Advisory Council. Both of his children obtained their undergraduate degrees at the University.
In 1989, Schwartz was named to the Cornell Board of Trustees and served on its Academic Affairs and Campus Life, Board Membership, Alumni Affairs and Development, and Land Grant and Statutory College Affairs committee, according to the University.
Professionally, Schwartz is best known for expanding his family clothing business, Jonathan Logan. After inheriting the company from his father in 1964, Schwartz grew the business from $100 million in sales to $400 million by the 1980s, according to The New York Times.
The brand was popular for selling moderately priced dresses and handbags, largely marketed to young women. It also employed designer Liz Claiborne, before she founded her own brand, according to The Times.
In 1984, United Merchants and Manufacturers purchased the brand for $168 million. Schwartz resigned in 1985, a few months before his father — who ran the company for three decades before passing it to his son — died.
After he retired, Schwartz became heavily involved in philanthropy and the arts. He was a member of the New York State Council of the Arts and acted as its chairman in the early 2000s. After 9/11, Schwartz was a part of a group that distributed grants to arts groups in lower Manhattan in an effort to revive the neighborhood.
Schwartz is survived by his wife, two children — John Schwartz ’94 and Jennifer Schwartz ’95 — a sister and two grandchildren.
This article originally appeared in The Cornell Daily Sun.
Read Richard J. Schwartz's full obituary in The New York Times.