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Arnold "Pic" Swartz

Obituary for Arnold "Pic" Swartz

June 28, 1927 - February 9, 2018
Houston, Texas | Age 90

"He built one of the most expensive personal libraries of anybody in San Antonio … it was very impressive."


Though he was known as a businessman who served on numerous boards, Arnold "Pic" Swartz also loved the arts. Director of cultural affairs for HemisFair '68, Swartz brought a folk-art exhibit by Alexander Girard and sports photography from his hometown of Baltimore to the world's fair. He also arranged for the Bolshoi Ballet to perform in Texas for the first time. "He really loved San Antonio, and when he came here, there was still a lot of cultural building to do," said his daughter, Mimi Swartz. Swartz was also a bibliophile. "He was an avid reader and book collector," said longtime friend David Hendricks, a former business reporter for the San Antonio Express-News. "He built one of the most expensive personal libraries of anybody in San Antonio … it was very impressive."

Active in politics his whole life, Swartz worked for Bill Hobby when he ran for lieutenant governor of Texas in 1972 and "ran John Anderson's office in San Antonio" during the presidential election in 1980, his son Jeff Swartz said. "It was that sense of service."

Swartz died Friday in Houston, where he had moved to be closer to his daughter. He was 90.
Born in Baltimore, Swartz was raised in his family's clothing factory, which provided suits to congressmen and U.S. senators. "They cut … and sewed the cloth," his daughter said. "I remember racks and racks and racks of coats and jackets and pants."

Swartz served in the Navy at the end of World War II and later graduated from the University of Virginia with a degree in history.

He met his future wife, the daughter of a clothing store owner in San Antonio, at a Baltimore country club. They married in 1952. Leaving Baltimore partly to avoid going into the family business, Swartz worked for his father-in-law at Frank Bros. men's clothing store on Houston Street after moving to San Antonio in 1955.

After working for HemisFair, Swartz was hired by Robert L.B. Tobin as vice chairman of Tobin Surveys Inc. "He was involved in the Tobin plant … handled most of Robert's cultural involvement," his daughter said, "all his philanthropic pursuits." Swartz became the president and managing trustee of the Tobin Foundation after Tobin Surveys was sold in 1998. He retired in his 70s.

"Dad really loved organizing things and making things happen," Mimi Swartz said. "Anything he could do to make things better he really enjoyed."

He was preceded by his wife, Marie Frank Swartz; and parents, Elizabeth and Edward Swartz. Arnold is survived by his daughter, Mimi Swartz and son-in-law, John Wilburn; sons, Jeff Swartz and daughter-in-law, Alison, and Edward Swartz and daughter-in-law, Nancy Hood; three grandchildren; and a sister.

11:00 A.M.

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