My father was originally diagnosed with cancer in March, 2005, the same month in which he turned 70. For quite some time after an initial bout with radiation and surgery, we thought we had the disease licked -- but his symptoms returned in mid-April of this year, and we discovered that his stomach cancer had become inoperable. My father and step-mother made the decision not to pursue painful, long-shot treatment, and instead, my Dad came home to spend his final weeks in their fine old 1880s-era adobe on Santa Barbara's westside.
My father received regular care from the wonderful folks at Visiting Nurse and Hospice Care of Santa Barbara. Before he left the hospital to come home for the last time, he asked for three things: time to lie out in the sunshine, time with loved ones, and time to play his cello. I am so happy to say he got all three; he was able to play music up until three weeks before his death.
I'll write more about my father next week. I will be starting summer school classes as planned on Monday the 26th, but please do understand if I am tardy about returning phone calls and e-mails. This weekend is being spent crying and laughing and comforting and remembering and, in my case, eating (my usual response to grief).
One of the benefits of having "time to plan" before he died was that Dad himself had a hand in writing his obituary. My step-mother and sisters finished it, and it will run in the local Santa Barbara paper this weekend. But I'm posting it here now. He was truly, truly, a wonderful man.
Hubert Rudolf Georg Schwyzer, professor emeritus of philosophy at UCSB, died of stomach cancer on June 22.
A gentle, kind, courteous man, a devoted husband and father, he was loved by all who knew him. He was born in Vienna, Austria in 1935 to Dr. Georg Clemens Schwyzer, a physician, and Elisabeth Schuh Schwyzer. The family, including Hubert’s older sister, Christa, was forced to flee Austria in 1938, nine months after the Anschluss. They settled in England where Dr. Schwyzer practiced medicine. After Dr. Schwyzer’s death in a car accident in 1947, Hubert’s mother took up dairy farming in Berkshire to support the family. Hubert grew up in England and attended a Jesuit boarding school before joining the Royal Air Force, where he served from 1953 to 1955. He went on to study at Reading University, where he graduated with a degree in philosophy in 1958. In 1959 he came to the United States for graduate study at the University of California at Berkeley, earning his doctorate in 1963. He taught philosophy at the University of Alberta, Canada for two years from 1963 to 1965, and at the University of California at Santa Barbara for 37 years from 1965 until his retirement in 2002. He was a popular and well-loved teacher and colleague, and the author of a book, The Unity of Understanding: A Study in Kantian Problems, published by Oxford University Press, as well as numerous articles. His writings focused on Ludwig Wittgenstein and Immanuel Kant and sought to examine and make accessible their insights into the nature of the relationship between thought and reality.
After retirement, he had more time to pursue his passion for playing the cello in chamber music groups, including the recently formed Bow’s Art Trio. For 20 years he participated in Glory Fisher’s adult education chamber music program, and attended the Humboldt Chamber Music Workshop almost every summer. Music and his friendships with his fellow musicians were great joys to him. He served on the board of the Chamber Music Society of Santa Barbara and was a member of the Unitarian Society of Santa Barbara. For many years he enjoyed a daily walk at Shoreline Park.
He is survived by his wife, Carol Schwyzer, of Santa Barbara; daughters Elizabeth of Santa Barbara and Diana of San Francisco; his former wife Alison Schwyzer of Carmel, his sons Hugo of Pasadena and Philip of Exeter, England; his grandchildren Edward and Sophia; his sister Christa Pongratz-Lippitt of Vienna and his brother George Schwyzer of New York.
The family would like to thank his doctors, Cottage Hospital, and Visiting Nurse and Hospice Association for the skillful and humane care he received. We would also like to thank the many friends who have offered loving support over the past months.
UPDATE: There are a number of photos of my father in various photo albums on the right. Some of my favorites: