Eugene Schwartz, 95; worked to help youth, founder of UMSL criminology program

Eugene Schwartz

BY ROBERT A. COHN, Editor-in-Chief Emeritus

Eugene Phillip (Gene) Schwartz, long admired for his service as director of the Metropolitan Youth Commission and founder of what became the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, died Tuesday, May 31, at Missouri Baptist Medical Center, of complications from a fall, according to his family. He was 95 and a longtime resident of University City.

Among the admirers of Mr. Schwartz was the late Gordon Forsyth who had served as chair of the Metropolitan Youth Commission during his tenure as director of the unique St. Louis City-St. Louis County commission which worked on behalf of troubled youth. When Mr. Schwartz completed his long tenure with the agency, which he had headed since 1959, Forsyth said, “Gene Schwartz was a dynamic and creative public servant and a passionate advocate for children and youth in the metropolitan area. Officials in both the City of St. Louis City and St. Louis County admired and appreciated his pioneering work.”

Mr. Schwartz was born in Milwaukee and attended Milwaukee State Teachers College, where he was a star wrestler. During World War II, he served in the U.S. Army with the 81st Infantry Division and visited schools in Japan after the war in an effort to help the postwar administration win the trust of the Japanese people after the war.

After the war, Mr. Schwartz continued his education, earning a master’s degree in social work at the University of Wisconsin and did additional graduate work in New York, where he met his wife. The Schwartz family moved to St. Louis in 1959 when he accepted the directorship of the Metropolitan Youth Commission. Among the efforts that won praise for Mr. Schwartz at that agency was its Ferguson-Florissant Project, which brought together law enforcement, educational, social service agencies and other resources in what he liked to call “an inter-disciplinary approach to working with troubled or challenged youth.”

Mr. Schwartz in 1970 founded what is now the University of Missouri-St. Louis Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice. After he retired, he continued to work with the department, offering his insights and experiences and his advocacy of social justice. He was also a respected advocate for universal health care, gun control and a variety of human rights issues.

Among the survivors are his wife of 57 years, Ruth Schwartz; two daughters, Judith Harmon of Albuquerque, N.M.; and Karin Schwartz of Milwaukee; a son, David Schwartz of University City, and four grandchildren. A celebration of the life of Mr. Schwartz is scheduled for 3 p.m., June 25 at the Ethical Society of St. Louis, 9001 Clayton Road.