MILWAUKEE — Michael Schwartz, longstanding chief of staff to Oklahoma Republican Sen. Tom Coburn and a man described by many as a skilled pro-life political strategist, died Sunday, Feb. 3 after yielding to Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. He was 63.
The devout Catholic spent his early career in public affairs with the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights in Milwaukee.
He settled in the Washington area in 1986 and worked with conservative lobbying groups including the Free Congress Foundation and Concerned Women for America.
Schwartz worked for Coburn in the House from 1995 to 2000 and in the Senate from 2004 to 2012. In his lifelong fight against abortion, was one of the founders of the D.C. March for Life.
Following this year’s march, and just days before his death, Schwartz was awarded the National Pro-Life Religious Council’s (NPRC) Pro-Life Recognition Award during the 19th annual National Memorial for the Preborn and their Mothers and Fathers.
In a statement, Sen. Coburn described Schwartz as an “extraordinary servant and faithful leader.”
Schwartz’s death is mourned by many in the pro-life movement, including Dave Zeidler, president of the Family Life Council and the U.S representative for the Latin American Alliance for the Family (ALAFA), who recalled that in a conversation with Schwartz only a few weeks ago, “what amazed me then was his spirit – the same caring and generous Mike I had been privileged to know as a friend since the ‘70s when he first moved to Milwaukee to work for the Catholic League and Civil Rights.”
According to Ziedler, Schwartz, who is survived by his wife, Rose Ann, and three children, was active as a volunteer in the pro-life cause. He said that his intelligence and gift for analysis and strategy made him sought out by many.
“As the executive director of Wisconsin Right to Life, I could always count on Mike’s help and advice,” he said.
“He also served on our WRL Education and Fund board and took special interest in the pregnancy helpline our friend and his, (the late) Fran O’Meara set up to help women with unexpected pregnancies carry to term.”
In addition to his service in the United States, Schwartz shared his talents in Latin America.
“Over the years, Mike traveled with me to many Latin American countries when he was able to take time away from work and family,” he said. “Key pro-life and religious leaders from Mexico, Central and South America profited mightily from his insights not just during these trips, but through Mike’s constant, ‘I’m only a phone call away,’ availability.”