Eugene Albert "Gene" Schwinger
August 20, 1932 – January 16, 2020
Eugene Albert “Gene” Schwinger passed away peacefully surrounded by his loving family on Thursday, the 16th of January 2020. Gene leaves behind a legacy of excellence: he was first a Christian; he was a dedicated husband, father and grandfather; he was the consummate professional; and he was a gifted and competitive athlete.
Born to Erna and Albert Schwinger in Houston’s Memorial Hospital on the 20th of August 1932, Gene was a lifelong Houstonian. He attended HISD schools graduating with high honors from John H. Reagan High School in 1950. In the summers during their developing years, Gene and his sister, Elaine, traveled to Bartlett, Texas, to live and work on the farm with their cousins. It was a time in Texas history when many youths and adults would leave Houston during the hot summer months to avoid the all-too-real danger of contracting polio, and it was here that Gene earned his strong appreciation for his German roots, a hard work ethic and the simple things in life.
Gene committed to Rice Institute in his junior year of high school and entered on a full athletic scholarship to play basketball in the fall of 1950. He was a three-year All-Southwest Conference honoree, and, in 1953 and in 1954, Gene received All-American honors and was named the Southwest Conference Most Valuable Player. Playing under the coaching talents of Don Suman, Gene led the Owls to a Southwest Conference co-championship in 1954. By his senior year, Gene had set four basketball school records that stood for many years: most points scored and most rebounds recorded in one season, and most career points and most career rebounds. Gene graduated from Rice in 1954 with a B.A. in business administration and economics. He would always look back on his years at Rice with great fondness and gratitude for the opportunities the experience afforded him. While at Rice, he played at 6’6” and amazingly grew another inch after college. He was drafted to play for the Minneapolis Lakers but instead elected to pursue a career in business which led him to Harvard Business School where he received his M.B.A. in 1959.
In between his time at Rice and Harvard, Gene was employed as a securities trader for Fridley, Hess and Frederking. After business school, he joined Cameron Iron Works as manager of the process accounting unit. In 1962, he joined the Bank of the Southwest where he would work as Vice President and Manager of the Trust Investment Department. From 1970-72 Gene became a partner with Norman, Payne and Schwinger, an investment counseling firm. He then went on to serve as Executive Vice President and Trust Investments Manager at River Oaks Bank and Trust Company for twelve years. From 1984-89, Gene served as President, COO and CIO of River Oaks Trust Corporation, responsible for all bank and trust investments, and then served four years as President and COO of River Oaks Trust Company. In 1993, Gene joined Kanaly Trust Company and served as President and COO until he retired in 2003.
In addition to his professional life, Gene was a faithful member of Memorial Drive Lutheran Church where he served as a member of the pastoral search committee, president of the church council, and church treasurer for several years. He also served as Vice Chairman for the Rice University Annual Fund, Vice President of the Owl Club and President of the “R” Association. He was a board member for Crisis Intervention of Houston, the John H. Reagan High School Foundation, and several financial institutions. Gene was also treasurer of Longwoods Homes Association for several years.
In 1971, Gene was inducted into the Rice University Athletic Hall of Fame, and in 2003 his #21 jersey was retired and now hangs in Tudor Field House at Rice. At the time of its retirement, Gene was still ranked ninth on Rice’s all-time scoring list.
Gene was the proud father of three children, and as they were growing up, he was actively involved in many of their community sports leagues and youth activities. He coached and taught, spending many hours in the backyard shooting baskets, teaching baseball pitches and throwing footballs. Their summers were spent at Camp Davis in New Mexico, the Mayan Dude Ranch in Bandera, Texas, and their house on Lake Conroe.
Above all else, Gene treasured the time spent with family including his three children, two step-children and eight grandchildren. He and his wife, Anne, were ever-present at countless birthday parties, sporting events and school productions and especially enjoyed the annual weekend at Camp Allen they hosted each spring with the whole family together. Priority was always given to spending time around the dining table and on the back porch just visiting, eating good food, passing the ball, fishing and telling jokes.
In 2014, Gene joined the congregation of St. Martin’s Episcopal where he would enjoy attending worship with Anne in the beautiful church. He especially enjoyed the music of the St. Martin’s Choir. Upon his professional retirement, he relished the time he had to study the Bible in greater depth, particularly the times and writings of the apostle Paul.
Gene was an avid reader, a lover of good barbecue and fried shrimp, and a faithful fan to his Rice Owls and Houston sports teams. His physical presence always loomed large, but it was no match to his kind heart and bright mind. Gene would light up around his friends and family members and never missed the opportunity to discuss a book he had read or the current events of the day. His love of learning never diminished, nor did his interest in sharing that with others.
Gene is survived by his devoted wife of 36 years, Anne Wendler Kostial Schwinger. He is also survived by his wonderful children: Scott Schwinger and wife, Rebecca “Becca”; Sharon “Shari” Schwinger Christian and husband, Philip; and Steven Schwinger and wife, Joy. He was proud PawPaw to Corbin, Cara and Charles “Charley” Schwinger; Clayton, Cooper and Carrie Christian; and Presley and Porter Schwinger. He is also survived by his step-children Paul Kostial and Margaret “Peggy” Kostial who lost their father when they were young. Gene was a wonderful example of a good father to them. Gene is also survived by the mother of his children, Gail Smith Norman; and his sister, Elaine England and her husband, Bill, and their children, Michael England and Marcia Faden.
With grateful hearts, the family wishes to thank Dr. Tejal Shah of the Medical Clinic of Houston for her loving care and expertise in dealing with Gene’s severe lung issues. The family is also grateful to the many Methodist Hospital doctors and nurses who were so competent and compassionate. The family is especially grateful to Lupe de la Cruz, Juan Rodea and Leticia Granados who made life easier for Gene and Anne each day.
Friends are invited to a visitation with the family from five o’clock in the afternoon until seven o’clock in the evening on Sunday, the 26th of January, in the grand foyer of Geo H. Lewis & Sons, 1010 Bering Drive in Houston.
A memorial service celebrating Gene’s life will be held at three o’clock in the afternoon on Monday, the 27th of January at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church, 717 Sage Road in Houston, where the Rev. Dr. Russell J. Levenson, Jr., Rector, and the Rev. Kenneth L. Fields are to officiate.
Immediately following, all are invited to greet the family during a reception to be held in nearby Bagby Parish Hall.
Gene’s eight grandchildren will serve as honorary pallbearers.
In lieu of flowers and customary remembrances, memorial contributions may be directed to Rice University Athletics-Owl Club, Tudor Field House MS-548, P.O. Box 1892, Houston, TX 77251; St. Martin’s Episcopal Church, 717 Sage Road, Houston, TX 77056; or to the charity of one’s choice.
- Gathering and Sharing of Remembrances Sunday, January 26, 2020
- Memorial Service Monday, January 27, 2020
Eugene Albert "Gene" Schwinger
January 27, 2020
Gene Schwinger was a close friend whom I greatly admired. His accomplishments were many and his continued support of Rice University was commendable. I regret that we did not visit Houston enough and see Gene.
January 26, 2020
Sorry for your loss.
Harriet and Alan Faden
Frank & Virginia Cervantes
January 26, 2020
Our hearts go out to the entire Family. Virginia and I truly respected Gene and will always have fond memories of him.
Love and Hugs to All.
January 24, 2020
I knew Gene during and after his banking career, starting with Bank of Southwest. He was very professional in his work, always prepared and his thought process was concise and to the point. It was a joy to work with Gene and I considered him an All American Banker/Investment Advisor.
Margaret (Hull) Penny
January 24, 2020
So sorry for your loss. I have fond memories of Gene and Elaine from my childhood. I often stayed with my grandmother, Margie Hull, who was the next door neighbor to the Swingers when they lived near Stude park. Recently, as executor of my mother's estate, I sold my grandmother's property. I fondly recall my dad taking us to see Gene play basketball at Rice University.
My husband retired after 40 years with Cameron Iron Wks. We have been married for 62 years. We have 3 children, 6 grandchildren and 2 great grand children. All 3 of our children have been married over 30 yrs. and live in Texas.
January 23, 2020
Thinking of you at this sad time and remembering with much fondness all the happy times shared over the years at River Oaks Bank.
January 21, 2020
Trusting God will comfort you with memories of happy times together.
I worked for Gene at River Oaks Trust Company and enjoyed his grace and class! He was so supportive of his employees and a joy to work for and with!
FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY
IN THE CARE OF