On August 22, 2019, James (Jim) Joseph Schwarzenberger, loving husband, father, and grandfather passed away peacefully in his home at the age of 70 after battling cancer.
Jim was born on May 22, 1949 in Quinter, KS to Joseph and Helen (Schreiner) Schwarzenberger, middle child among four siblings Tom, Patty, Gary, and Jodi. He received his degree in English from Newman University in Wichita in 1972, and worked for the Wichita Area Chamber of Commerce for 30 years. On September 2, 1972 Jim married Kathleen (Kathy) Theresa Healy. They raised five children, Matthew, Kevin, Janelle, James and Paul, and they always consider their children’s spouses, Amanda, Jennifer, and Terry, their own children. Nine grandchildren include: Tristen, William, Jarod, Tyler, and Alex Schwarzenberger; Lauren, Collin, Regan, and Payton Beczak.
Jim was a kind and quiet soul who enjoyed spending time with family and friends. He loved to listen while his children and grandchildren laughed, argued, and played together. Raised on a small farm in western Kansas, Jim’s life was shaped by traditional values and strong work ethic.
Jim was passionate, thoughtful and creative. He showed this through writing, art, building, and creation of anything to which he applied himself. With his work in Chamber management, he developed countless programs that eventually earned him the nickname, “Acronym King.” Wichita Business Journal named him “Diplomat of the Year” because of his quiet, attentive nature that enabled him to bring others to the table to work for the betterment of the community. He received great encouragement from his loving wife, Kathy. Their love for creativity and adventure was passed on to their children and grandchildren.
As a strong and devout Catholic, he had a deep love and connection to his faith and prayer life. He applied his creativity by assisting the church through programs and volunteer work. Heavily involved in the Right of Christian Initiation program, men’s retreats, Marion retreats, and lectoring, Jim never hesitated to contribute to the church and help those in need. He visited Medjugorje on a pilgrimage, and he assisted in relief efforts in New Orleans after the Katrina disaster. Jim and Kathy also visited Jerusalem in January, 2019 to experience the Holy Land where Jesus walked.
Like his father, Jim was born in Quinter Kansas and baptized in neighboring Collyer, Kansas at St. Michael Catholic Church. As a boy, he experienced a true farmer’s life, both the pleasures and the uncertainties that nature provided. He helped with and cared for the wheat harvests and cattle. As a family, they fought through all of the harsh realities such as blizzards, hail and dust storms, insect invasions, droughts, and the frequent threat of Kansas tornadoes.
Jim was an adventurous boy. His siblings have fond memories of him and his acrobatics. He was very coordinated and a natural athlete with a strong competitive spirit which his easy-going nature belied. Growing up, he could be found doing a handstand on the back of a horse or balancing along something that would suffice as a tightrope. He could throw a baseball all the way from center field to home plate with accuracy, catch a fly ball with his bare hands, and crush a ball with a bat. In addition, he enjoyed tennis, golf, lawn games and competing with his siblings and kids in any activity, especially cards. Jim’s talents often surprised people and his ability was just uncanny. He would never let you win and would never brag about it, but often could not stifle a wry smile.
His father Joe was incredibly gifted at building and repairing all things associated with life on the farm with the supplies at hand. He never spent a dollar on something he could have made or repaired by hand and he passed along these qualities to Jim.
In 1962, the family moved to Olathe, Kansas, where his three deaf siblings could benefit from the Kansas School for the Deaf and a broader deaf community. In 1968, Jim went to Wichita to study English at Sacred Heart College (now Newman University), where he participated in choir and where he met Kathy. In 1970, on a whim of adventure, he joined a professor he respected on a road trip to Alaska. He stayed there for an entire summer and documented his experiences there in a narrative he wrote recently. This trip fueled his love for adventure and storytelling to others.
After graduating, Jim stayed and recruited for Newman for several years. Eventually, he joined the Wichita Chamber of Commerce where he received wonderful mentorship, grew and leveraged his skills in the area of workforce development, recruiting businesses and talent to Wichita.
On September 2nd of 1972, Jim married the love of his life, Kathy, a marriage that would last these 46 years. Jim and Kathy were an amazing complement to one another allowing them each to exercise their great strengths. They both took scripture to heart living their marriage as one flesh and are a lasting example for their family. Their love for one another was amplified during Jim’s last few months as was their love for their faith. Even at the end of his days, during one-on-one conversations with his kids, Jim would frequently tell them he has never loved Kathy more. Even in pain he displayed confidence and passion for faith in God. It was fitting that when he quietly passed away, she was singing him one of his favorites, “How Great Thou Art.”
Jim was such a good man, caring and kind, always continuing to learn and grow, even through his battle with cancer. He was prayerful and trusted God’s works and what God wanted from and for him. He died on the Feast of the Queenship of Mary, fitting because of his devotion to Mary, the Mother of Christ and our Mother.
A prayer vigil will be held at 6:30 PM on Thursday, Aug. 29th at St. Paul Catholic Church, 21650 W 115th Terrace, Olathe, KS. The Mass of Resurrection will be Friday, Aug. 30th at 11:00 AM also at St. Paul; and the burial will be Saturday, Aug. 31st at 9:00 AM in Oak Hill Cemetery, 1605 Oak Hill Ave., Lawrence, KS.
In lieu of flowers, donations in honor of Jim’s life may be made to the Sister Servants of Mary, 800 N. 18th St., Kansas City, KS, 66102, to Camp Barnabas, a summer camp for those with special needs, at campbarnabas.org, or to the St. Paul Catholic Church Building Fund.
Kathy and family, we are sorry for your loss. May God be with you to comfort you in your loss.
I worked with Jim during his years at the Wichita Chamber. He was a good person. I deepest sympathy.
Jim’ personified the leadership quality of “Integrity”! He was dependable and always showed up ready to work and make life better for everyone around him. I was always struck by his quiet but irrepressible spirit and how he jumped in to help with whatever needed to be done. Kathy, Larry and I are so sorry to hear about your loss. Jim definitely left an indelible impact. Please accept our deepest condolences.
I worked with Jim at the Wichita Chamber back in the early 1980s. He was always a quiet, kind gentleman who could be depended upon to do the right thing. I’m sorry to hear of his passing, but thankful that he is now with the Lord and is no longer in pain. Blessings and prayers to the family.
May Jim Rest In Peace. He brought lots of wisdom, insight and heart to his role @ WACC. I worked with him on a number of HR related projects. I always highly respected Jim and he was a good role model in a number of ways personally and professionally.
I first met jim when he was a student at sacred heart. I worked at scared heart with foe a few year before he went to the chamber. I enjoyed our interaction thru the years but had not seen him for sometime. my condolences to his wife and family.
Join the discussion…I had the pleasure of knowing and working with Jim when I was with the Wichita Area Technical School and the Wichita Public Schools. What a great guy!!! . . . My prayers and thoughts are with his family.
My sincerest condolences. I remember Jim very well – years ago in the 90’s. I know his Deaf sister as well. I used to work at a building near the Chamber of Commerce and I’d run into him during lunch time on the sidewalk and we’d converse in ASL. May his memory be eternal and Rest In Peace.
Kathy so sorry to hear about Jim. You have my deepest condolences and my prayers for strength from our Lord Jesus. I knew you and sang with you at St. Elizabeth many years ago. I live in Wichita now and I am the Director of Liturgy for the Adorers of the blood of Christ Convent.
We are sorry to hear of your loss,Kathy, Jim’s work here is finished but sounds like he made a lasting impression on many in the Wichita area and has a great legacy through his children and grandchildren that lives on. To be able to Hear our Lord say”well done, good and faithful servant” is music to our souls. As classmates at Olathe High School we had good times and great memories to cherish. May God continue to uphold you and console you as you call upon Him for grace in your time of grief. We will lift you up in our prayers, Love in Christ, Jerry and Junella Hiatt
Kathy, your Regnum Christi friends send our condolences and assurance of prayer for Jim’s soul and for peace and consolation for you and your family. May he Rest in the sweet peace of Christ in the eternal Jerusalem!
Kathy our prayers to you and your family. We were so privileged to know and work with you and Jim In the RCIA program at SEAS. You two were truly quite a team in all you did.
Love and blessings from above Rick and Geneva Hermreck
We were deeply saddened to learn of Jim’s passing. We so enjoyed the years with you at Schulte. Our kids still talk about when you kept them when we went on a trip. May our Lord give you solace and strength. You and yours will be in our prayers. Joan and Vince Wesolowsky
Kathy and family, I first met Jim when I was a high school student at Marion HIgh in Omaha, Ne. He was a great recruiter for Newman College and convinced me that Newman College was a great place for me. So in 1976, he arranged for my college visit and I enrolled for that fall. He always spoke of his family and his Catholic faith to the students. May his soul rest in peace and may your Catholic faith bring comfort and peace to you and your family. Thy Kingdom Come!
Kathy and family,
I am so sorry to hear of Jim’s passing, and yet very grateful that I happened to learn of it. I believe we first met in Lamaze class in 1974, but I have come to know you and Jim mostly because of Jim’s loyal friendship and care shown to my brother, Bernie these past 7 years. I enjoyed reading Jim’s frequent letters to Bernie. He always gave wonderful descriptions of your travels and activities during your retirement years. Jim’s visit to Bernie on his 70th birthday was especially appreciated. Bernie will be very sad to receive this news. I will keep both you and Jim in my prayers.
Glen and I were so saddened to hear of Jim’s passing. The memories of our times with him and you are cherished ones. We have tried to get in touch with you when we have been back to Wichita, but unfortunately we couldn’t find a number. We had let too much time pass. Jim was always a special person, and we read the beautiful obituary of all the wonderful accomplishments he had achieved especially as a husband, father and grandfather.
We will make the trip to Gary’s, Glen’s brother, in October, God willing. If you would like to have a visit, please let me know:
We would love to see you!