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First Cape resident passes at 88

August 27, 2014
By Chuck Ballaro ( , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

He was a war hero, a leader in the Jewish community, a great businessman, and an even better family man.

To people in Cape Coral, he was simply known as the first.

Kenneth Schwartz, who became the first resident in the city of Cape Coral in the 1950s and helped make the city what it is today, died on Aug. 24 after a long fight with cardiovascular and pulmonary disease.

Schwartz joined the Gulf American Land Corp in 1958 and was the first resident and the main force behind the creation of Cape Coral.

The house, in the historic district near the Yacht Club, still stands today.

Paul Sanborn knew Schwartz for more than 50 years, working with him for seven, and said he was the kind of man who "wrote his own obituary."

"He was the first employee at Gulf America in 1957, so he started it all. He was the property manager, so he was in charge of everyone. He was the kingpin," Sanborn said.

Earth was moved in November of 1957. Schwartz and his family moved into a home in June 1958 on Riverside Drive.

In 1969, Schwartz married Maxine (nee Ertag) and moved to the Miami area to take on more real estate and investment projects.

Schwartz served in the Marine Corps from 1944 to 1946, seeing combat in Okinawa. In 1950, he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business, and spent almost his entire business life as a real estate executive.

Later in life, he served as a National Vice Chairman of the United Jewish Appeal and was a longtime mission leader for the local and national Jewish communities, leading thousands to visit Israel. He also served as president of Temple Sinai of North Dade from 1972 to 1978. He also enjoyed riding his bike well into his 80s.

To Sanborn, he was one of the people without which Cape Coral might not have been born.

"He was one terrific person. His personality was above anything and he could remember people's names. Everyone in the early days loved him," Sanborn said."He took care of the new residents and made a name for himself. He was a friend for 50 years, and we're really going to miss him."

Schwartz is survived by his wife of 45 years, Maxine, six children, and eight grandchildren.



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