CHAPEL HILL-Joel Joseph Schwartz, PhD died peacefully at his home in Chapel Hill, NC, surrounded by family, on July 7, 2018. He was 81 years old. Dr. Schwartz was born in 1937, the third and youngest child of Rueben and Ann Schwartz, in Boston, where he grew up and attended Boston Latin secondary school and Harvard College.
After graduating from Harvard in 1960, he pursued graduate study on fellowship at Indiana University, where in 1965 he received a doctorate in Russian studies and political science. After completing his graduate studies, he accepted a position at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he served as a member of the faculty for 43 years.
During his tenure at UNC-CH, Dr. Schwartz was the recipient of multiple teaching awards, including the University Professor of Distinguished Teaching, and five chancellor and student undergraduate awards. He also received the General Alumni Faculty Service Award. He served as inaugural Director of the university’s Center for Teaching and Learning and, in 1995, he was Director of the UNC Honors Program in London. He was most proud, however, of his work with students that led to the establishment of the Apples Service-Learning program. That program is now an essential part of the undergraduate curriculum.
Joel was President of the Beth El synagogue for two terms, serving the Jewish community with compassion and commitment. Using his natural oratory skills, he delivered many thoughtful bar and bat mitzvah speeches to young people during this important rite of passage.
Throughout his adult life, in both his professional and personal activities, Joel was a passionate advocate for those who were marginalized by society, bringing attention to their challenges through his teaching and service. He also honored those who helped his immigrant ancestors when they came to the United States as refugees by working to assist refugees who arrived to our shores during his lifetime.
Joel is survived by his wife, Myrna, who was a UNC librarian for 45 years and who accompanied him through life’s joys and challenges for 59 years. As well, he leaves to remember him his sons, David (wife Maria Marta) and Ray (wife Maria Emilia) and his three grandchildren, who were his greatest joy and source of happiness in his final years. His memory is a blessing to his family, friends, and to those whom he affected in life-changing ways and whose lives he enriched and who, in turn, enriched his life. Joel is also survived by his sister Sara Lee of Boston and her children and grandchildren.
Interment will be held at Durham Hebrew Cemetery. Memorial services will be held at a later date. Online condolences can be made at www.hudsonfuneralhome.com. The family is under the care of Hudson Funeral Home.
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