Skip to content

Eulogy for Rudy Schware (by Gene Deikman) …followed by Obituary for Betty Schware

January 30, 2014
Rudy and Betty Schware - February, 1986

Rudy and Betty Schware – February, 1986

(The following is the piece that Gene Deikman wrote for Rudy’s Memorial [which took place, if I remember correctly, in 1995 or 6]. Rudy Schware was a very good friend of mine. I spoke at the memorial too but Deikman gave a good deal more texture to Rudy’s life. Deikman was a long time progressive Denver lawyer. If I remember correctly, he was hauled before the House of un-American Activities Committee and refused to testify. PS. Thanks to Henry Feldman and Doug Vaughan for reminding me of this statement)

“We will never see his like again”…

Too bad, kiddo. As the plutocrat said, life is not fair. Stop blubbering. Just because you’re only 9 years old doesn’t mean you don’t have to go out there and earn money for your family. New York City was not exactly hospitable territory for Rudolph Schware’s parents, but a refuge from the knout and pogroms of the Czar.

Small wonder Rudy was born into a family of socialists. A tap on the shoulder. “Mr. Schware, kindly step into my office. There’s something we need to discuss.” Rudy followed the bar examiner to the desk and sat down.”Mr. Schware, the Board has been made aware that you have been a member of the Communist Party, that you have used aliases and have been arrested several times. May I therefore inquire why you think you have evidenced sufficient moral character to be admitted to practice in the State of New Mexico?”

Here’s why, wrote Mr. Justice Hugo L. Black of the United States Supreme Court (Schware v Board of Bar Examiners of the State of New Mexico, 353 US 311 (1957). In the following quote, words in parentheses are inserted by me, not Mr. Justice Black.):

At the hearing petitioner (Rudy) called his wife (Betty), the rabbi of his synagogue, a local attorney and the secretary to the dean of the law school to testify about his character. He took the stand himself and was thoroughly examined under oath by the Board. His counsel introduced a series of letters that petitioner had written his wife from 1944 to 1946 while he was on duty in the Army. Letters were also introduced from every member of (Rudy’s) law school graduating class except one who did not comment.

(Judas?) And all of his law school professors who were then available wrote in regard to his moral character. The Board called no witnesses and introduced no evidence. . . . (Rudy) was born in a poor section of New York City in 1914 and grew up in a neighborhood inhabited primarily by recent immigrants. His father was an immigrant and like many of his neighbors had a difficult time providing for his family. Schware took a job when he was nine years old and throughout the remainder of school worked to help provide necessary income for his family.

After 1929, the economic condition of the Schware family and their neighbors, as well as millions of others, was greatly worsened. (Worsened! What is this, a sick joke? They were nearly starving, and then came the depression?) (Rudy) was then at a formative stage in high school. He was interested in and enthusiastic for socialism and trade-unionism (Of course!) as was his father.

In 1932, despairing at what he considered lack of vigor in the socialist movement at a time when the country was in the depths of the great depression, he joined the Young Communist League. I pause here. Rudy’s death is not just the loss of a beloved man but it marks the passing also of the vestiges of a forgotten national epic. Rudy’s youth moved through a dark but thrilling milieu beyond present-day conception.

When Black wrote, this history was not so far removed. The facts are by now tucked in remote
recesses of archives, never to be discussed meaningfully again. They are more distant from national consciousness than, say, “Tippecanoe and Tyler too”. Only people Rudy’s years endured and shaped those events and connected you with them. What Black referred to were years of waxing and waning of the socialist movement in the nation (in the early 20th century, 13 Colorado towns had socialist mayors; in 1920 Debs ran for president from prison and got almost a million votes; Colorado’s own Big Bill is buried in the Kremlin) followed by an upheaval spawning the Communist Party USA, without which the CIO would not have existed.

In a footnote, Black reminds us: At times during 1932 more than 12,060,000 of the nation’s 51,000,000 working persons were unemployed. That does not begin to do justice to the scope of the Great Depression. Black wrote on: From the time he left school until 1940 Schware, like many others, was periodically unemployed. He worked at a great variety of temporary and ill-paying jobs. In 1933, he found work in a glove factory, and there he participated in a successful effort to unionize the employees. (There were lots of organizing Communists like Rudy then. That’s how the CIO was built, folks.)

Since these workers were principally Italian, Schware assumed the name Rudolph Di Caprio to forestall the effects of anti-Jewish prejudice against him, not only in securing and retaining a job but in assisting in the organization of his fellow employees. In 1934 he went to California where he secured work on the docks. He testified that he continued to use the name Rudolph Di Caprio because Jews were discriminated against in employment for this work. Wherever Schware was employed he was an active advocate of labor organization. (And remained so to his last breath.)

In 1934 he took part in the great maritime strikes on the west coast which were bitterly fought on both sides. (As Rudy marched toward the shipyards locked arm-in-arm with his comrades, the workers to his immediate right and left were felled by bullets. Rudy was unscathed. He told me in his last hospitalization, that he apparently had led a charmed life. For example, when he was on leave from his ship, it sank with all hands lost.) While on strike in San Pedro, California, he was arrested twice on “suspicion of criminal syndicalism.” He was never formally charged nor tried and was released in each instance after being held for a brief period. He testified that the San Pedro police, in a series of mass arrests jailed large numbers of the strikers.

At the time of his father’s death in 1937 Schware left the Communist Party but later he rejoined. In 1940 he was arrested and indicted for violating the Neutrality Act of 1917. He was charged with attempting to induce men to volunteer for duty on the side of the Loyalist Government in the Spanish Civil War. (Americans volunteered for the International Brigade in the first Armageddon against the fascists. “Madrid, your tears of sorrow,/ Madrid, your tears of sorrow,/ Madrid your tears of sorrow, mamita mia,/ we shall avenge them/we shall avenge them!”) Before his case came to trial the charges were dismissed and he was released.

Later in 1940 he quit the Communist Party. The Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact of 1939 had greatly disillusioned him and this disillusionment was made complete as he came to believe that certain leaders in the Party were acting to advance their own selfish interest rather than the interests of the working class which they purported to represent. (My view: The USSR was buying time to prepare to defend against Nazi Germany. As to corruption: so what else is new? No organization exists without its disenchantment. The great thing about Rudy: corruption was unforgivable, he was so free of it himself.)

In 1944 Schware entered the armed forces of the United States. While in the service he volunteered for duty as a paratrooper and was sent to New Guinea. While serving in the Army here and abroad he wrote a number of letters to his wife. These letters show a desire to serve his country and demonstrate faith in a free democratic society. They reveal serious thoughts about religion which later led him and his wife to associate themselves with a synagogue when he returned to civilian life. (Later, Rudy eschewed religion. He carefully requested a friend, a Catholic priest, not to speak about religion at Rudy’s memorial. The friend agreed. It was, after all, a last request.)

He was honorably discharged from the Army in 1946.

After finishing college, he entered the University of New Mexico law school in 1950. At the beginning he went to the dean and told him of his past activities and his association with the Communist Party during the depression and asked for advice. The dean told him to remain in school and put behind him what had happened years before. While studying law Schware operated a business in order to support (Betty) and two children (Beverly and Robbie) and to pay the expenses of a professional education. (Rudy was ever a shrewd and enterprising businessman. His first years in Colorado, he sold carpets and venetian blinds. He quickly fired me when I failed, as his attorney, to energetically pursue a debtor.)

And how typical of Rudy is this observation of Justice Black:

A solicitude for others is demonstrated by the fact that he regularly read the Bible to an illiterate soldier while in the Army and law to a blind student while at the University of New Mexico law school. The New Mexico Board was instructed to let Rudy take the bar exam. Meanwhile, in 1954 Rudy had fled an increasingly threatening environment for his family in New Mexico, and resided in Denver. The Bar of New Mexico thumbed its nose at the Supreme Court: Rudy lacked the residential requirements for admission and refused to sign a newly required affidavit that he was not now and never had been a Communist. “Take that up to your Supreme court,” they sneered.

Rudy opted for admission to the Colorado bar. A tap on the shoulder. “Mr. Schware, would you step down the hall to my office?” “Mr. Schware, you crossed out the question about being a Communist on your application. We’ll let you take the exam, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be admitted.” But, when all was said and done, Rudy was admitted in 1960, a full ten years after being admitted to law school. He was 47. With Betty as his secretary, Rudy established a thriving general practice. He was particularly talented in business law — no contradiction; psychological studies show Socialists and Republicans have attitudes more in common than supposed. It is liberals with whom their personalities most differ.

Unlike the Republican archetype, however, it was the warmness and kindness radiating from Rudy that most struck you. No matter what the legal case, Rudy was always thorough and driving. His great passion, naturally, was to advance social justice. His greatest struggle was to sustain that advance through prolonged periods of issue-malaise. The National Lawyers Guild is an example. Interest and membership in the Guild, issues-driven as it is, is cyclical.

During labor struggles, the war against fascism, the fight against anti-Red hysteria, the Civil Rights movement in the South, the drive against the Vietnam war and the draft and the support of Gay rights, the Guild was vibrant, but during the ebbs between these tides, interest in the Guild has often flagged. Rudy supplied staying-power during the ebb-tides. He was, of course, the founder and backbone of the local Guild and from 1962 was a member of the Guild’s national executive board.

To the last he was, by invitation, a member of the United Mine Workers of America, District 12, and the Communication workers of America, Local 7777. From inception, he was on the steering committee of his particularly cherished Colorado Jobs With Justice. He was a member of the National Committee for Independent Political Action, Committees of Correspondence and Labor Party Advocates and many, many other organizations utilizing his experience and wisdom.

To impart a flavor of the extent of his commitments: he had been a member of the Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy, Inc., the Colorado Campaign for A Nuclear Weapons Freeze, Lawyers Alliance for Nuclear Arms Control, Inc., Citizens for Peace in Space, SANE, Rocky Flats Alliance, TCC Coordinating Council, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Campaign, the Colorado Coalition for the Prevention of Nuclear War, chair of the Colorado Committee to Stop Government Spying, general counsel for The American Servicemen’s Union (later outlawed by act of Congress), counsel to The Committee of Concerned Citizens On Mercenary Activities, co-counsel to the Crusade for Justice, the American Indian Movement, the Black Panther Party, SDS and the Colorado Peace Council in Colorado.

He chaired the Colorado panel of over 50 attorneys who were among the national Selective Service Legal Panels which reduced the conviction rate in draft-evasion prosecutions from 97% to 33%. Rudy was a delegate and speaker at the First World Conference Against Apartheid, Racism and Colonialism in Southern Africa in 1977 in Lisbon. While in Paris attending the International Association of Democratic Lawyers Seminar on the Paris Peace Accords in January, 1975, he was asked by the Viet Nam ambassador to France to try to arrange a delegation of Congress persons to visit Hanoi as well as Saigon. He completed arrangements in April, 1975, but later that month the war ended.

The scope of his lectures was nationwide at law schools and other colleges and in numerous church and community meetings. Writing in 1994 of these and many more activities to the dean of his former law school, he commented: I hope the above gives a you a slight idea of how I managed to stay young despite various sicknesses and at the same time keep the family fed, clothed and educated.

Let the memory of him in the minds of all who care about the down-trodden, impoverished and oppressed stay forever young. We will never see his like again.

Addendum by Henry Feldman: As I re-read this, I found myself wondering if Gene was aware, when he said that Rudy remained an active advocate of labor organization to his last breath, how literally true that was. In his last few months he was rushed to the hospital many times. Following one of these trips, I was told by an organizer for CWA Local #7777  and attendant, who were not union members, but were interested. When I visited him at St. Joseph Hospital in the month before his death, he had been talking about union organizing with the nurses aides and orderlies.


Betty Schware Obituary in the Denver Post Oct. 2, 2016

Betty Schware’s Century 1917 – 2016

Betty Kemeny Schware died September 28th, 2016 at her home in the Meridian, Boulder. She was just shy of her 100th birthday, a milestone to which she was eagerly and joyfully looking forward. Her daughter Phachog had given her a license plate sign for her walker that said “Pushing 100,” which Betty found endlessly entertaining, and she directed everyone’s attention to it. She had certainly made the most of her century: born on January 14, 1917, she entered life in a banner year for the world as WWI ended. She spent her early life in the Bellefaire Jewish Orphanage in Cleveland, a place where she found warmth and security.

Through smarts and hard work she honed secretarial skills that led to her employment with the War Department, where, at a conference in Dallas, she met – for an hour – a handsome soldier, Rudy Schware, in 1944. He asked her to marry him after that brief meeting, and they remained married for half a century until Rudy died in 1995. They had two children, Beverly (Phachog), and Robert. After the war, Betty and Rudy together navigated the rough waters of the McCarthy era, since Rudy drew the attention of the House Un-American Activities Committee because of what it deemed his unacceptable union organizing activity, and membership in “radical organizations.”

Eventually, however, he became a lawyer in Denver, and Betty managed his law office for decades. She was the realist to his radical-left dreamer; she balanced his conviction about certain political ideals with a down-to-earth insistence on the importance of a financially secure daily family life.

She was the realist to his radical-left dreamer; she balanced his conviction about certain political ideals with a down-to-earth insistence on the importance of a financially secure daily family life.
Beverly and Rob grew up in this rich stew throughout the ferment of the ’60s and early ’70s, the Vietnam War years. Always together, Betty and Rudy traveled the world while continuing to work shoulder to shoulder. Betty’s good taste was reflected in decorating their home with understated furniture and striking works of art gathered both from their travels and from local art galleries. (The art hung near the bookshelves where Rudy’s complete collection of Karl Marx’s works were displayed.)

Over time, Bev and Rob married and had children, and Betty was an enthusiastic grandmother to her four grandchildren. A source of deep satisfaction came from her tutoring immigrants in English one on one to help improve their lives. When Rudy died in 1995, Betty dearly missed his presence over all the years she survived him. Betty had an enduring interest in current affairs and politics, and her century went on to include all the more recent events that have marked our time: 9/11, the Middle East wars, increasing awareness of our effect on the planet, among many others. She liked to ask people what they thought of all of these, and, of course, she had strong opinions about the current election process. Her survivors include Phachog, Rob, Alice Trembour, four beloved grandchildren (Jordan, Rosa, Naomi, Shanni), and nephew Ernie. She is also survived by two nieces of Rudy’s, Lily Appelman of Denver and Roberta Katz of New Jersey, who considered Betty the “last matriarch” of their sprawling family. She will be missed by all of them, as well as by her many friends.

Published in Denver Post on Oct. 2, 2016– See more at:

7 Comments leave one →
  1. March 31, 2014 8:04 pm

    Rudy is the reason I finished law school. Was just talking about him to a friend today & found this. Yes, he was organizing right up to the end.

  2. Kevin Hilton permalink
    August 13, 2014 12:17 pm

    Rudy was an amazing man- truly iconic in my view. I was a young union organizer (23 years old) when I met him. He became my self proclaimed mentor. To this day, I don’t know why he took the time (maybe out of pity), but it speaks to his bountiful compassion. He took so many of us under his wing.

    He proceeded to teach me all I needed to know.

    “Remember, the greatest crime committed was the ability of one man to make profit from another man’s labor.” — Rudy Schware

  3. August 13, 2014 1:50 pm

    I remember once when I was working for Pen Tate that Rudy called & asked me to handle a case for a family he had represented but that day could not . . . I asked Pen if I could go to court on that case & his response was “When Rudy calls you have to go.” I never knew anyone who didn’t admire Rudy, an icon and an idol.

  4. John Gascoyne permalink
    June 29, 2018 9:57 pm

    I graduated from UNM Law School in 1971 and sought to be licensed in Colorado, my home state, as well as in New Mexico. On the Colorado Bar application, I was asked to list all organizations to which I’d ever belonged. I refused on the grounds that some of the organizations might have been religious and the bar examiners had no business knowing of any religious affiliations and, by extension, of any other organizational involvement. Also said that I would pledge allegiance to the “form of government of the U.S.” as contemplated by the country’s founders; would not pledge to the “travesty of government being conducted” under Richard Nixon. The CO bar examiners gave me a solo interview and wanted to know what was going on at UNM Law School. “Do you know who Rudy Schware is?” they asked? “No”, I fibbed. I had his office address in my wallet and planned to see him if I were refused admittance to the exam. Next day they relented and, to my disappointment, I never met Rudy.

  5. ernesto B. vigil permalink
    June 30, 2018 8:47 am

    I am forwarding this to someone to whom I recently spoke about Rudy over the past weekend. When Rudy died I was out of town or would have attended and was sorry to later learn that his files had been destroyed.

  6. Parris Boyd permalink
    September 8, 2020 7:17 am

    Mr. Deikman, what a wonderful eulogy. Nonetheless, I have a bad habit of thinking people will be around forever, and was profoundly saddened to find it after searching Google for Rudy Schware. I was an anti-war soldier stationed at Ft. Carson in 1969, organized soldiers to speak out against the war in Vietnam, and Rudy was my attorney, representing me in a number of my battles with the Army and Military Intelligence (a contradiction of terms). Having carefully read your eulogy, I am even more honored than I realized I was during the time Rudy was my attorney, to have been associated with such a superb example of what it means to be a human being.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: