M. Eleanor (Kolarik) Schwalm, age 98, died peacefully on May 28, 2020. Born in Iliasovce, Czechoslovakia on March 3, 1922, she is the daughter of the late Rev. Joseph Kolarik and Anna Dinda Kolarik. Eleanor’s parents returned to the United States and reared her, along with her nine siblings, in Ohio and New Jersey, before settling in Pittsburgh, PA.
Her scholarship to a Pittsburgh art school opened doors as a photo colorist and as a costume designer for the Pittsburgh Playhouse. Creative artistry became her avocation, as she reared six daughters with her husband, Horst Schwalm, whom she met in the Pittsburgh Lutheran Chorus and married in 1944. Illustrated speeches, calligraphy, banner- and dress-making were only a few of her talents. In her 50’s, she was schooled and licensed as an activities director for Concordia Lutheran Ministries, of which her husband was the CEO. It was there that she met Jessie Weber, the head nurse, who invited her to a revival service, at which Eleanor trusted Jesus as her Savior. A staunch supporter of the unborn, Eleanor began to travel to Washington, D.C. for the annual March for Life. She was a member of the Butler County Republican Women’s Council, served as chaplain, hosted teas for, and encouraged political candidates, and volunteered at polling places. For fifty years, before and after retirement, Eleanor served in many capacities at Concordia Haven: as the writer of hundreds of weekly news letters, as a Bible study teacher, on the chapels committee, as a reader to older people, as an officer in the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League, and as an event organizer, elevating each task with her artistic flair and godly focus. She and her husband opened their home and hearts to multitudes of families, students and missionaries, generously giving lifetime support and friendship. A prolific letter-writer, and crafter of gifts, Eleanor never forgot a birthday, holiday or anniversary. Fearless and loving in her Bible convictions, she spoke about her Lord to everyone who was privileged to meet her.
She and Horst were married for fifty-nine years, until his home-going in 2003. Eleanor was predeceased, this year, by her eldest daughter, Patricia (Joel) Benbow of Edina, MN. Also predeceasing her were her parents, six brothers: Bohdan, Ted, Bob, Milan, Walt and Ivan and two sisters, Doris and Vera.
She is survived by her brother, Luther(Peggy) Kolarik of Ambler, PA., and sister-in-law, Mabel(Bob)Kolarik of North Canton, Ohio, as well as by her twin daughters, Janet(John) Rabon and Diane(Mike) Freeman, both of Simpsonville, SC.; Susan(Bill) Vidas of Edinboro, PA.; Amy(David) Hunt of Berlin, CT and her twin, Alise(Thom) Heinrich, of Waterford, PA and honorary daughter, Sathia (Roland) Sehmke of Malaysia. Eleanor leaves a great Christian legacy to her sixteen grandchildren, twenty-two great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren.
Calling hours are on Friday, June 5, 2020, from 2-4 pm and from 6-8 pm, at Fox Funeral Home 410 West Main Street, Saxonburg, PA 16056. The funeral service is at 10 am on Saturday, June 6, at Fox’s and her burial, beside her husband, at St. Luke Cemetery on Hannahstown Road in Cabot, PA, will be private.
Memorial donations may be made to Concordia Lutheran Ministries, Cabot, PA, where Eleanor lived for more than half her life, and where she received wonderful nursing care for her final ten days.
In accordance with guidelines set by the CDC, it is suggested that an appropriate face mask is worn when entering the funeral home. Appropriate social distances will be kept. We ask that those who are at risk or feeling ill do not attend visitation.
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