Jean Naomi (Lenner) Schwabe

  • Born: April 8, 1924
  • Died: March 22, 2018
  • Location: Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio

Bissler & Sons Funeral Home and Crematory

628 West Main Street
Kent, OH 44240
Tel. (330) 673-5857

Tribute & Message From The Family

Did anyone notice a Disturbance in the Force last Thursday at 9:30 in the morning? Because at that moment, in our little world, Jean Schwabe left it.

Born Jean Naomi Lenner, April 8, 1924 to Deane and Jean Lenner of Akron, she was the youngest of the intrepid Lenner sisters. They spent many of their youthful summer days playing on the family farm in Tiffin, Ohio. As adults the sisters went on a world trip together.

Jean attended King School in Akron, graduated from West High in 1941, and Kent State University with a Bachelor degree in Art Education in 1945. As a freshman she was chosen by Art Department head Elmer Novotny as the model for his life size oil painting "The Co-Ed". After the war she married Richard "Dick" F. Schwabe in 1946, a marriage that would last 65 years, and began raising a family in Cuyahoga Falls.

Jean was an original. Ahead of her time, she was a feminist, an outspoken liberal, an artist and a business woman. Jean rented out the fellowship hall at the Cuyahoga Falls Church of God for weekdays of the school year. She purchased supplies and equipment, including a full size jungle-gym, and began what would become the legendary Jean Schwabe Kindergarten. Jean would walk the half mile (with her little son) to and from the rented church space, and every Friday move all the equipment, including the jungle-gym, out of the room and into the hallway under the stairwell - and every Sunday night move it all back in time for her students on Monday, who were never the wiser. Later, in her newly constructed home basement – built to code and accredited (with its own furnace) - her school became J. Schwabe Pre-School. Altogether she continued her school for 43 years and influenced many, many young lives. In the early years she also ran her own art classes from a rented upstairs building on Front St. in the Falls.

Jean was always a progressive champion of social issues and probably had more Akron Beacon Journal letters-to-the-editor published than any other local citizen. She was also featured in a number of Beacon articles including coverage of her school activities and, years later, her retirement, in addition to a spread on her astounding indoor Christmas displays and collection.

She was active at Grace Church in Akron for 40 years as a pretty far-out Sunday school teacher and (without much prodding) social activities coordinator of many church gatherings.

Her outgoing personality and creative abilities often culminated in Happenings, Pageants, Dance Shows, Costumed Reenactments and theme parties with her friends and family - costumed Thanksgiving dinners (we're talking Indians and Pilgrims) or A Christmas Carol mini-play with top hats, tailed jackets, high collar shirts and gowns gathered from area thrift stores. A typical family photo could morph into a Jean family image as she would first pass out props, such as large plastic glasses, fuzzy eyebrows, mustaches and black fedoras, before her creation was complete.

Jean, as crazy and creative as she was, always maintained a profound sense of social justice and concern for social and economic inequality: participating in the March on Washington over the plight of the homeless in the '80's, donating 20 backpacks outfitted with blankets, socks and toiletries to a local homeless organization, providing for a well to be dug in an African village, and most recently leaving a legacy fund to help address the plight of endangered elephants. For Jean's were concerns not just for her fellow humans but for the rights and well-being of all animals of our Earth and the healthfulness and care of the very planet itself. From a Sunday School lesson she had written years ago, Jean asked "...we have been appointed stewards….stewards of the world to care for our habitat and all of its creatures. Are we good stewards?"

Jean was one of the best.

Jean Naomi Schwabe, 93, of Cuyahoga Falls, died Thursday, March 22, 2018. She was preceded in death by husband Richard "Dick" Frank Schwabe, and sister Maxine Horning. She is survived by her sons Ric Schwabe (Jan) of Kent, Dan Schwabe (Eleanor) of Auburn, CA and John Schwabe (Mary Jean) of Cuyahoga Falls; daughter, Jennifer Ramsey (Jim) of Columbus; sister, Helene Lane of Roswell, GA; 6 grandchildren: Liesl, Paul, Chris, Megan, Sara and Chelsea; 5 great grandchildren: Pico, Edie, Trent, Celia and Olivia; and dear friends Sherrie and Sue.

The family wishes to thank Clearpath Hospice and Mulberry Gardens Memory Care for their outstanding care and loving attention given to Jean in her final days.

Cremation has taken place, and a family gathering will occur at a later date. Interment will take place at Chestnut Hill Cemetery, using a biodegradable urn, where she will be joined with Dick, the love of her life.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be given either to Death with Dignity, or World Wildlife Fund, per Jean's wishes. Thoughts and memories may be shared online at Bissler & Sons Funeral Home and Crematory are handling the arrangements.

Condolence & Memory Journal

I lived at 3320 Wilson St. while attending elementary school from 1962 to 1969 and remember well the Schwabes. Great neighbors! Condolences to Rick, Dan, Jennifer and John.

Posted by Dan Powers - Akron, OH - neighbor   August 01, 2019

In a strange coincidence, I had a thought of my pre-school days, and wondered if Jean Schwabe was still around. I'm not sure what made me think of her, but I had very fond memories of my days in preschool in the basement classroom in the early 90's. I was stunned to see she just passed months ago.

Jean was a teriffic woman and teacher. She taught creativity that had a lasting impact on hundreds - probably thousands - of people. People like this are one in a million, and the impact they they have on the world is immeasurable.

Rest in Peace.


Posted by Ben B - Cuyahoga Falls, OH - Student   June 29, 2018

I'm very sorry to hear about Jean's passing. She always greeted my wife and I with a warm smile and positive attitude, when we stopped by to say "Hi" to her late husband Richard (Dick), a mentor of mine.
Prayers and peace for the family. God bless you all.

Posted by Myron Koyle - Stow, OH - acquaintance   April 11, 2018

The photograph and obituary perfectly captured the Jean Schwabe that I knew. Kudos to the author! She was a true force of life and creativity. Such a pleasure to have known Jean!

Posted by Marsha Russell - Silver Lake, OH   April 02, 2018

I am just short of 62 years old, and remember going to Mrs. Schwabe's preschool in the basement.
Mrs. S. was so kind and her preschool really helped me become less shy. My mother really admired her for all her energy.
I'm glad to read that she lived such a long, full and adventurous life.

Posted by Pamela Parker - CLEVELAND, OH   April 01, 2018

Growing up on Lloyd street I fondly remember Mrs Schwabe's class room in her basement. She was so generous with the local kids opening up her pool for us to swim and many other craft making times (well before social media). Mr. Schwabe would always stop me in the street and talk sports as we had a regular group playing touch football on the Lloyd street asphalt. Great lady and nice family. My parents still live in the house I grew up in on Lloyd and recently I pointed out the Schwabe house to my son telling him of all the fun I had as a kid when Jenny would life guard for all of us little kids to swim. RIP to to Mrs Schwabe and God Bless the family. Michael Pollard, Silver Lake Ohio

Posted by Michael Pollard - Silver Lake, OH   March 29, 2018

What an amazing woman who was much ahead of her time. Mrs. Schwabe always had time, patience and laughter for we neighborhood children. I remember the great summertime tomato plant races between my mother, Mary Baker, and Jean; all in good fun and healthy competitiveness! She was a good neighbor and left fond memories behind. My condolences to the Schwabe family.

Posted by Lorraine Baker Riccardi - Pawleys Island, SC - Friend   March 29, 2018


I grew up at 3311 Wilson St. in Cuyahoga Falls. We were next door to the Schwabe residence. I last saw Mrs. Schwabe (Jean) at my Dad's funeral in 1995, before Mr. Schwabe (Dick) had passed away.
Mrs. Schwabe was a wonderful neighbor and a beautiful lady; I regret that I never had a chance to see or talk to her and Mr. Schwabe again after my Dad's passing.
My Mother (Mary Baker) left us in 2001.
Only this week, we laid to rest our Beloved Aunt, Sr. Mildred Baker, my Dad's sister. Like Mrs. Schwabe, Aunt Millie spent her life giving to others.
My sincere condolences to the Schwabe family for the loss of this wonderful woman. Please know that almost 50 years later, the impression she left upon me and the great memories of her smile remain to this day.
We should all hope for such a wonderful life.

Posted by Jerry Baker - Cincinnati, OH - Neighbor   March 29, 2018

I'm thankful for the time I have spent with Jean over the last 2 years. I know I only scratched the surface when learning about her rich life. She was truly one of a kind and left a positive mark on many lives.

Posted by Bill Schloman - Streetsboro, OH   March 28, 2018

I am sorry to hear about the passing of your Mother. My condolences to each of you and your families.
Jim Baker and Family.

Posted by Jim Baker - Akron, OH - Family Friend   March 28, 2018

What an amazing lady! Sending lots of love to the family, especially Jenny and Chelsea.

Posted by Allison Ansari - Columbus, OH   March 28, 2018

So many great memories growing up with the Schwabe family. Sorry we've lost touch. Your Mom and Dad were amazing people. I'm so sorry for your loss.

Posted by Sue Scoville-Abrusci - Cuyahoga Falls, OH - Family Friend   March 28, 2018

Dan and family, I'm so sorry for the loss of your mother. She must have been a remarkable woman. Claudia Leiter Stephan

Posted by A friend   March 28, 2018

Danny and Family,
This was a beautiful write-up on your mom. What a special lady. You and your family are very blessed to have had such special parents. I remember your kind father very well. He and my dad were dear friends for many years. I am sending you my love.
Pamela Politz-Reno

Posted by PAMELA POLITZ-RENO - DANIELS, WV   March 28, 2018

Danny and Family,
This was a beautiful write-up on your mom. What a special lady. You and your family are very blessed to have had such special parents. I remember your kind dad very well. He and my dad were dear friends for many years. I am sending you my love.

Pamela Politz-Reno

Posted by PAMELA POLITZ-RENO - DANIELS, WV   March 28, 2018

Danny and Family,

Posted by A friend   March 28, 2018

I am so sorry for your loss. May God's promise comfort and sustain you during this difficult time. John 6:40.

Posted by A friend   March 28, 2018

Offering our deepest sympathies during this time.

Posted by The Staff of Bissler & Sons Funeral Home - Kent, OH   March 28, 2018

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