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Stefan Walery Schwann

January 18, 1933 August 27, 2019
Stefan Walery Schwann
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Obituary for Stefan Walery Schwann

On Monday, August 26, 2019, Stefan Walery Schwann, MD, PhD, devoted husband and father of two children, passed away peacefully at home at the age of 86.

Stefan was born on January 18th, 1933 in Wejherowo, a principality of Gdansk along the northern coast of Poland, along the Baltic Sea. After the invasion of Poland in September of 1939, Wejherowo was annexed by the Third Reich, and Stefan's parents, Joseph and Anna (né Klamrowski), were instrumental in helping a family escape Nazi extermination. During the German occupation, Stefan attended German school, developed a love of words and languages, and aspired to become a classical violinist. In March of 1945, Wejherowo was captured by the Red Army and was reintegrated back into Poland. Like the rest of the Polish nation, the city suffered and struggled under Stalin’s Communist rule and later behind the Iron Curtain.

Stefan's passion for music gave way to post-war pragmatism and toward the study of medicine. He received his M.D. in 1957 and his Ph.D. in 1962 from the Academy of Medicine in Gdansk, Poland. On April 17, 1960 he married Grażyna Anna (né Kaluża) who gave birth to their son, Thomas Arkadiusz, one year later. Their second child, Nanette Margaret, was born in 1965. After finishing his residency in 1966, Stefan embarked on a career in academic medicine, publishing papers in medical journals and taking an active role in teaching at the Academy of Medicine. However, his refusal to join the ruling Communist party stymied his career and narrowed prospects for his family.

In 1968, with the encouragement of his wife, Stefan joined the Polish Merchant Marine as the ship’s Physician aboard the POL Grunwald. He traveled extensively throughout the Middle East, Africa, and Asia during a dynamic time in the area’s geopolitical history. In 1971 Stefan and his young family departed the Grunwald as it lay in dock in the port of Hamburg, Germany. The American Embassy granted him political asylum and the family arrived in New York in December of 1971. After passing his USMLE exams and completing another residency in New York City, Stefan began his second career as Medical Director of the International Division of Ayerst Pharmaceuticals. Stefan loved his work in Research & Development, which allowed him to travel extensively, often with family, throughout Europe and Asia. He was instrumental in bringing Inderal (one of the first drugs developed to prevent heart attack and control blood pressure) and Premarin (the first hormone replacement approved for post menopausal women) to market.

During a successful career in the Pharmaceutical industry Stefan and Grażyna, raised two children, both of whom went on to follow in their father’s footstep in careers in medicine. Soon both children had children of their own, and Father (as Stefan was officially called) became known as “Popsie" by the grandchildren. Just as he reveled in the lives of his own kids, Pospie was an omnipresent granddad for all 5 grandchildren. Exacting and not to be trifled with, he was a doting but demanding parent and grandparent. Most of all, he did not suffer fools. He had a brilliant but sarcastic wit, a mellifluous voice, and a love of music and history that remained vibrant till his death. As he got older, he discovered the infinite knowledge made possible by the interconnectedness of the World Wide Web, and, next to books, his MacBook Air’s Google Scholar—the portal to all that might be known about the realm of man--was his most prized possession. Everyday, after a good game of computer chess, he would open his home page and “sit on the shoulder’s of giants."

Pospie passed unexpectedly after a brief accelerated illness. To the end, he remained true to all that he had been throughout his life: a great storyteller, historian, avid New England Journal of Medicine reader, and lover of classical music. Popsie was as enigmatic and charming as he could be frustrating. He could make anybody laugh and almost everybody think. Stefan is survived by his wife of 59 years Grażyna, his two children and their spouses, Tom & Traci and Nan & Bob, his brother Tadeusz, his sister Leonarda, and five grandchildren, Lexie, Alex, Olivia, Austin and James Patrick.

A Memorial Mass will be held on Saturday, September 14,2019at 10:30 AM at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa, Barn Chapel, 654 Ferry Road, Doylestown, PA 18901. A burial will follow on the adjacent Cemetery grounds following the service.

In lieu of flowers, his family wishes for you to consider a donation in Stefan’s honor to The Polish American Cultural Center Museum.

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Previous Events

Funeral Mass




10:30 AM 9/14/2019 10:30:00 AM
Our Lady of Czestochowa - Barn Chapel

654 Ferry Road
Doylestown, PA 18901

Our Lady of Czestochowa - Barn Chapel
654 Ferry Road Doylestown 18901 PA
United States

Cemetery Details


Our Lady of Czestochowa Cemetery Final Resting Place

654 Ferry Road
Doylestown, PA 18901

654 Ferry Road Doylestown 18901 PA
United States

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