William Bernstein Schwartz Jr.: 88: Former U.S. Ambassador to the Bahamas

William Schwartz Jr. did more than lend financial support to Jimmy Carter's presidential bid. He joined the candidate on the campaign trail. He was introduced to the former president by Jerry Rafshoon, a media executive, and Mr. Schwartz supported Mr. Carter's  two gubernatorial bids and was present at the Governor's Mansion when presidential intentions were declared. 

"My dad was an enlightened liberal and had been very involved with [the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.] and others in changing Atlanta's racial profile," said William B. Schwartz III, a son. "Dad and Gov. Carter became friends and when he decided to campaign for the presidency he knew it would require a lot of funding."

The Committee for Jimmy Carter came together in the backyard of Mr. Schwartz's Atlanta home. He served alongside Anne Cox Chambers, a principal owner of Atlanta-based Cox Enterprises;  then-Congressman Andrew Young, and Philip Henry Alston Jr., an influential Atlanta lawyer now deceased.

After the election, each of these prominent Atlantans was appointed to ambassadorships that they held from 1977 to 1981. Chambers was assigned to Belgium, Young to the United Nations, Alston to Australia and Schwartz to the Bahamas.

In an interview with The Atlanta Jewish News, Schwartz cited two highlights of his ambassadorship: the opening of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency office on the island and the arrangement for the Shah of Iran to live in the Bahamas during his exile.

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On Tuesday, William Bernstein Schwartz Jr.,of Atlanta died at Piedmont Hospital from  heart failure. He was 88. The funeral was held Thursday at The Temple.  H.M. Patterson & Son, Spring Hill Chapel, handled arrangements.

At 16, Mr. Schwartz graduated from Druid Hills High School and earned a bachelor's degree in business administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. After college, he entered naval officer candidate school at Newport, R.I. He left the military in 1945 with the rank of lieutenant.

During the 1950s, Mr. Schwartz served as president of The Temple, which was bombed during his tenure. On the bombing's 50th anniversary, he recalled the incident as a great shock.

"You think it will never happen to you, just like 9/11 in New York," he said in 2008. "You get complacent and take things for granted."

Mr. Schwartz held an extensive professional and civic resume.  He was vice-president of National Service Industries, and president of  Weine Investment, a private family investment firm.  He was a director for Artex International, Balcor Energy Co. and PhenixSupply Co. He chaired the board of visitors of Emory University, the Florence Crittenton Home and the Atlanta chapter of the American Red Cross, among other duties.

Board service included the Atlanta Botanical Garden, Atlanta Chamber of Commerce and the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta. He was president of the Atlanta chapter of the American Jewish Committee.

Mr. Schwartz helped Dorothy and the late Hamilton Jordan found Camp Sunshine, which  provides programs for children with cancer and their families.

"He quietly funded some of the initial costs for that camp," his son said. "He was very focused about family and civic involvement."

Additional survivors include his wife of 67 years, Sonia Weinberg Schwartz of Atlanta; two additional sons, Arthur Jay Schwartz and Robert C. Schwartz, both of Atlanta; six grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.

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