Betty Schwarzschild seemed born to lead. In the more than 50 years she lived in Atlanta, she was the chair or president of practically every organization she joined.
She was chair of volunteers of the Atlanta chapter of the American Red Cross. She was president of the Faculty Women's Club of Georgia State University, where her husband, Stuart Schwarzschild, was a professor of risk management and insurance. At Peachtree Road United Methodist Church, she chaired the liturgical committee and the church's board of trustees.
She was president of the Druid Hills Garden Club and the Carlton Woods Garden Club. She even was president of the First Monday Gypsies, a group of women who traveled together to enjoy various attractions inside and outside Atlanta.
And on the side she was an interior designer.
Betty Granger Schwarzschild, 86, died Thursday at her Atlanta residence of heart failure. Her memorial service is at 10 a.m. Monday at Peachtree Road United Methodist Church. H.M. Patterson & Son, Oglethorpe Hill, is in charge of arrangements.
Her daughter, Beverley Clark of Raleigh, N.C., recalled that when Mrs. Schwarzschild was chairman of Red Cross volunteers, it was nearly a fulltime job. "She put on her Red Cross uniform and went into the office nearly every day," she said.
Mrs. Clark also remembered that when Atlanta hosted a national Red Cross convention years ago, her family grew nearly an acre of cotton as table decorations for the event.
"Obviously," she said, "you can't just decide that you need cotton on the spur of the moment." Her mother always planned ahead, she said, adding, "She was very organized and never procrastinated."
Mrs. Schwarzschild was similarly systematic in her work at Peachtree Road UMC.
"Betty knew how to get things done around our church," said Sandra Davis, an Atlanta woman who served with her on several committees there.
"She picked the right people to do specific tasks," Mrs. Davis said. "She knew how to get people involved and feel good about the work they did so as to get their maximum effort. She was an outgoing and able administrator."
Enid Mescon of Atlanta said that when Mrs. Schwarzschild headed the faculty women's club, her focus was on creating cohesion among its members, both faculty wives and women professors. This was at a time when GSU, then known as Georgia State College of Business Administration, did not have a strong campus atmosphere.
Born and educated in Richmond, Va., she retained a noticeable Virginia accent and thought of herself as a Virginian even after living in Atlanta since 1958. A kitchen tile she kept for years read: "To be a Virginian either by birth, marriage, adoption or even on one's mother's side is an introduction to any state in the union, a passport to any foreign country and a benediction from above."
Trained in interior design at the Richmond Professional Institute, now a part of Virginia Commonwealth University, Mrs. Schwarzschild designed her own home's interiors and those of many of her friends.
"While Betty was open to new trends, she basically had traditional tastes; the antiques she chose, for instance, were gorgeous," said a friend, Katherine Anderson of Atlanta. "Nothing she did seemed stilted or stiff. Her designs were so effortless that they made you feel completely comfortable."
Mrs. Schwarzschild carried over that same sense of style with her own appearance. She dressed impeccably and wore tasteful jewelry, Mrs. Anderson said.
"Betty and my mother were great friends," Mrs. Anderson said, "and Betty seemed like a second mother to me. When I was deciding on a career, it was she who encouraged me to become an interior designer as she was. She was my inspiration."
A Virginia influence was also observable in her gardening, said a friend, Barbara Hinkle of Atlanta. "Betty's backyard was a walled garden with brick walking paths, as is customary in Richmond," Mrs. Hinkle said. "She was very knowledgeable about plants, and it showed in the selections she made."
Blanche Foley of Atlanta said she considered Mrs. Schwarzschild to be the unofficial mayor and founder of the Carlton Woods neighborhood, located beside Chastain Park. "The garden club that she led later became the Carlton Woods Neighborhood Association, and now a third generation of its original residents live here."
Survivors also include her husband of 57 years; a son, John Schwarzschild of Austin, Tex., and three grandchildren.
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Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com