Olga. K. Schwarz, 94
Olga. K. Schwarz was born in Northhampton, Pennsylvania, on Oct. 30, 1925, to Wassyl and Kathryn Kotoris (Zakaroff). Wassyl and Kathryn were both immigrants from the Ukraine, with Kathryn arriving to the United States in 1911 at the age of 16. Olga was one six children and the second youngest: Michael (b. 1917), Anna (b. 1919), Stephen (b. 1921), William (b. 1923), Olga (b. 1925) and finally Mary in 1934. Olga’s father, Wassyl, passed away in 1936 at the height of the Great Depression and Kathryn, who spoke very little English, was left to raise her six children. Olga was 11 years old when her father passed away.
Shortly after World War II, Olga met and married Ralph Schwarz. Ralph served in the U.S. Navy in the Pacific during the war and passed away on April 1, 2007. They were married for 34 years and had three children. Their first born was Ellen on Sept. 4, 1948, born in Allentown, Pennsylvania, Michael born on June 13, 1951, in Helena, and finally Stephen born Aug. 9, 1953, in Kalispell. Ellen passed away on June 30, 2007, and Stephen passed away in 1970. Olga and Ralph started their life together in Pennsylvania, but gradually made their way West, through the Great Lakes region, Wyoming, and finally Montana. They settled in Kalispell around 1950 where Olga remained a vital and loved member of the community for 70 years.
Olga was an incredibly hard-working woman and took great pride in her independence and work ethic. For many years she worked at Montgomery Ward (that was located in downtown Kalispell), then at the Immanuel Lutheran home for more than 20 years (where she lived for the last five and a half years of her life). In addition to Kalispell, during her time in the Flathead Valley she also lived in Columbia Falls and over the years made several trips back to Pennsylvania to visit her family.
She was a well known and beloved member of the Flathead Valley. Until her death she was an active member of Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Kalispell where each Sunday she’d share the gift of her beautiful and powerful singing voice. She nurtured lifelong friendships, loved a good conversation, catching up over lunch, sharing her famous pies (especially apple!), and zipping around town in her peppy little red car. Over the years people across the Flathead Valley embraced and loved her, checking on her welfare and stopping to share a chat wherever they saw her.
She is survived by her son, Michael of Wilder, Idaho; five grandchildren, Alex Baker of Seattle, Washington, Peter Baker of Brussels, Belgium, Nida Schwarz of Wilder, Idaho, Sacha Waters of Nampa, Idaho, Josue Schwarz, U.S. Navy San Antonio, Texas; and four great-grandchildren, Natalia Waters U.S. Navy, Great Lakes Training Station, Andres Waters, Alejandro Waters and Antonio Waters; and nieces and nephews across the United States.
Olga left an impression on everyone she met: — stoic, strong, proud, independent, open-hearted and loving. Her noble character was forged by experiences throughout her life: Years of close quarters with her large bilingual immigrant family during the Depression; collecting coal from the railroad tracks that fell off the passing cars to keep their small home warm during the cold Pennsylvania winters; migration westward away from her home and family, eventually settling in Montana to raise her young family; blue-collar labor for more than 50 years, during which time she rarely if ever missed a day; the heartbreak of seeing two of her three children pass away before her (Ellen and Stephen); and life as a single independent woman for the last 40 years of her life. These and other experiences helped to forge Olga’s noble and resilient character and her desire to see everyone living an equitable and happy life.
Olga’s family would like to thank so many people across the Flathead Valley for their love and support during this time, and would like to take this opportunity to offer our deep gratitude to the entire staff of Immanuel Lutheran Skilled Care Residence in Kalispell; your devoted, loving and skilled care provided a true home where Olga enjoyed her last years, and where she passed away on Sept. 18, 2020. Thank you.
Send remembrances to Michael Schwarz at 28437 Peckham Road, Wilder, ID 83676.