Frederick H. Schwarz
Retired McCormick & Co. executive traveled in search of spices and advocated for farmers on several continents
Frederick H. “Fritz” Schwarz, a retired McCormick & Co. executive who traveled the globe buying spices, died of a suspected heart attack Monday at his home. The Locust Point resident was 78. Born in St. Louis, Mo., he was the son of Arthur Schwarz, who was president of the Nooter Corp., a steel plate fabrication business, and Helene Muetze.
He was an Eagle Scout, and earned a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering from Purdue University and a master’s from the Sloan School of Management at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
He later earned a doctorate in economics and international business, which he began at the University of Chicago and completed at Saint Louis University.
While living in Chicago as a graduate student, he met Kathleen “Kathy” Brogan at St. Chrysostom Episcopal Church on a snowy January morning.
“We fell in love with each other that morning,” she said. “I remember skipping home and saying to myself, ‘I have me a man.’ ”
Dr. Schwarz worked in international agriculture.
“Fritz’s dream was to work in international business development,” said his wife. “He had a love of agriculture, and while at MIT, he got inspired to help people around the world in that field.”
She said he worked for more than 40 years to establish joint agriculture ventures in Latin America and Asia and advocated for farmers on several continents.
After working for a while at Monsanto, he became director for international business development for “protein technologies” for Ralston Purina Co.
In 1987, he moved to Baltimore and served as president of International Business Development Corp. He worked with sesame seed growers to gain crop insurance from the federal government.
In 1991, he was named director of vendor development for the global sourcing team at McCormick & Co. in Hunt Valley. He was responsible for seed and capsicums, or peppers.
“He bought kola nuts from French West Africa. The chieftains there once gifted him with a robe, a cap and a goat,” his wife said. “He bought cinnamon in Indonesia, parsley and basil in Israel.”
She said he fulfilled a dream when he found what he considered the world’s finest cinnamon source. He was also a major buyer of red peppers in India.
“His suppliers liked him. Fritz had a gracious way about him,” said his wife, who is a professor of pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.
Dr. Schwarz later retired from McCormick and became president of the American Sesame Growers Association.
“My father was known by everyone for his indomitable spirit, brilliant intellect and dry sense of humor,” said a son, Axel Schwarz of San Diego. “He instilled in me and in my brother a deep respect for nature, the value of hard work, the importance of listening to people, and how to adapt and overcome life’s obstacles.”
In his spare time, he enjoyed mountain climbing, storytelling and banjo playing. Family members said he had traveled to 90 countries and worked in most of them. They said Germany was of special interest to him because of his German ancestry. He traced the family genealogy from the 16th century in Lower Saxony.
He also enjoyed spending time with his family at a cabin they owned in Missouri.
He was a former board member with Episcopal Community Services of Maryland. He worked on projects such as Jericho House, a halfway house for ex-offenders, and at the Caroline Center in East Baltimore.
He was also involved with The Ark, a preschool for homeless children on Madison Avenue, and volunteered at the Collington Square Boys Club, also in East Baltimore.
Dr. Schwarz, who lived for many years in Monkton and Homeland, was an active supporter of the Elkridge-Hartford Hunt Club.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. today at First & Franklin Presbyterian Church, 210 W. Madison St.
In addition to his son and wife, survivors include another son, Kurt Schwarz of Palo Alto, Calif.; a sister, Elizabeth Schwarz Meyer of Asheville, N.C.; and three grandchildren. Frederick Schwarz was “inspired to help people around the world,” his wife said.