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Helmut Schwab

December 31, 1969 ~ June 11, 2022 (age 52)

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Obituary

Helmut “Hal” Schwab (93) of Appleton, WI, passed away on June 11, 2022. Helmut was born in Nuremburg, Germany on April 3, 1929. He and his family left Germany on Kristallnacht and arrived in the U.S. a day after Thanksgiving 1938. Ever after, Thanksgiving was his favorite holiday. He settled with his parents and sister in Woodbine, NJ where they ran a farm selling chickens and eggs. Helmut attended high school in Millville, NJ and then Rutgers University graduating with a degree in chemistry. He was drafted into the U.S. Army where he served as a medical lab technician in Europe during the Korean War.  Helmut married Erica Lehman on August 16, 1953. Following, he went on to receive his Ph.D. in chemistry from Rutgers University and was hired as a research chemist for National Cash Register (NCR) in Dayton, OH working in analytical chemistry. He and a team of chemists developed carbonless and coated papers. After 50 years Helmut spoke about special military projects that were particularly interesting: one to camouflage aircraft and another to prevent eye damage from nuclear detonation. He was a very curious and intelligent man. After the Basic Research Division of NCR was disbanded in 1972 he and 15 staff relocated to Appleton Papers in Appleton, WI where he retired after 34 years of working.

At the age of 15, Helmut took a shop class that changed the trajectory of his life. He was introduced to a wood lathe and for the next 70 years he turned out hundreds of beautiful and exotic pieces. For many years his art was displayed and sold in art galleries in central Wisconsin. He gifted pieces to family and friends always certain to detail the types of wood that were used. In addition to woodturning, he was a talented handyman. During his middle years he enjoyed bowling and golf and was a sports enthusiast of mostly everything. He was dedicated to his daily puzzles: crossword, sudoku, jumble, and wordsearch which may have aided his complete clarity until death. He liked raunchy jokes, opera and musicals, baking and cooking, and books.

Helmut is survived by his daughter, Sharon; son-in-law, Greg Dahl; granddaughter, Savanna Dahl (fiancé David Koser); nephews, Alvin Stein (Ellen) and Mark Stein (Cheryl Geisler) and their children, and his cousin Fred Fields.  He was further beloved by Erica’s nieces, Monica and Heidi Lehman and daughter, devoted colleagues and friends. Helmut was predeceased by his wife, Erica; parents, Ludwig and Rosa Schwab; sister and brother-in-law, Ilse and Leon Stein; son, Kenneth and stillborn son.

A graveside service was held on Thursday, June 16, 2022 at Beth Abraham Cemetery with Rabbi Melissa Crespy officiating. The family would like to thank the caregivers from Home Instead who made it possible for Helmut to remain at home. In lieu of flowers, donations in his memory may be made to: Fox Cities Performing Arts Center, Harbor House, or Pillars (Appleton, WI), the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center (Skokie, IL) or National Jewish Health (Deerfield, IL).

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