It was an evening that Ron Schwartz would have deeply enjoyed.
Family, friends, golfers gathered around tables to enjoy plenty of good food, lots of laughter and celebrating a great cause.
Wednesday evening, at the Clarion Inn, the Southwest Kansas Pro-Am celebrated the more than quarter-century of volunteerism by Schwartz, a long-time businessman and community leader in Garden City, by inducting him into its Hall of Fame posthumously.
Schwartz died in April after a four-year battle with cancer, displaying the tenacity and dedication that he had throughout his life.
Don Reule, a friend who served with Schwartz on the Pro-Am Committee for nearly a decade, made the induction presentation and characterized Schwartz as someone who was proud of Garden City, but wholeheartedly dedicated to the St. Catherine Hospital Newborn Intensive Care Unit.
“Ron was proud that the proceeds went to the NBICU, and helped so many babies and families,” Reule said in his remarks before a crowd of several hundred. “He loved golf, and the combination of having a golf tournament to raise money to help babies was something he enjoyed being involved in.”
Reule said Schwartz always looked to work toward improvements in the Pro-Am every year, with a goal to raise more donations to fund the NBICU and its goal of purchasing new equipment.
“He’ll be remembered as a fighter,” Reule said to the crowd, which included his wife, Janie. “He courageously battled cancer for four years.”
Both Reule and Schwartz were in the car business and in their earlier years, both played softball against each other.
“We’ve been friends and competitors on the softball field and in business,” Reule said.
Schwartz was active in numerous organizations in the community, serving on the Garden City Community College Board of Trustees, as well as its representative to the Finney County Economic Development Corp.
His love of, and commitment to, the student-athletes at GCCC, endeared himself to the young academics at the school.
“He loved his sports, especially at GCCC,” Reule said of Schwartz. “They named a street after him (Ron Schwartz Drive), and that speaks volumes.”
It was not unusual to see both Ron and Janie at nearly every sporting event, and most other college activities, through the years.
Speaking on behalf of Janie Schwartz, GCCC President Herbert Swender said the community owed them a great debt of gratitude for their service.
“Ron did so much to enhance the college and this community and we are so grateful to you both,” Swender said.
Started in 2010, the Pro-Am Hall of Fame includes earlier inductees Bob Whippo (2010), Kent Colvin (2011), Dr. Stephen Myers (2012), Paul Parker (2013), Bob Bluml (2014) and the E.C. Brookover Sr. family (2015).