Gwen was a long term member of the Sweet Adeline organization. She shared her talents as an arranger and as a singer. She was a member of the Sacramento Valley Chorus, the Voice of the Valley Chorus, and the Pride of Pacific Chorus. She will be greatly missed!
A service to celebrate Gwen's life was held at Trinity Episcopal Church, Nevada City, on November 22, 2008, at 3:00pm. A reception followed the service.
SWEET ADELINES were there in force!!! Father Christopher had asked the Sweet Adelines to participate in the service as we were such a great part of Gwen's life. Dr. Greg Lyne directed "How We Sang Today".
The family asked that contributions to the Trinity Mission Pygmy Education fund be sent in Gwen's honor in lieu of flowers.
AFTER SHE LOST HER HUSBAND, SHE FILLED HER LIFE WITH MUSIC
Gwen Schweitzer, an enduring widow of a Navy pilot who was a prisoner of war in Vietnam for more than five years, died Thursday at age 73. The cause was a brain tumor, said her son Karl.
Mrs. Schweitzer was a stay-at-home mom of two young boys at Lemoore Naval Air Station in Kings County in January 1968 when word arrived that her husband's fighter plane had been shot down in Vietnam. Cmdr. Robert Schweitzer was missing in action for almost two years before she learned he was alive in a North Vietnamese prison camp.
She moved to Placer County for a new life for her family and settled in Meadow Vista. She filled her days as a single mother and an active member of Sweet Adelines, a female barbershop chorus. She also kept her faith in God and her husband's safe return.
"She tried really hard to maintain a normal household in a very abnormal situation," her son said. "She taught me to go to church, read books, go out for sports and do all the things she thought he would want me to do."
Robert Schweitzer returned home to a hero's welcome with other released captives in March 1973. He enrolled full time at Sacramento State and spoke to community groups about his POW experience. He was driving to an engagement in January 1974 when he was killed in a single-car crash on Interstate 80 near Penryn.
Her husband's death less than a year after coming home strengthened Mrs. Schweitzer's devotion to family and community. She encouraged her sons' involvement in school activities, sports and a rock band.
She volunteered with the Episcopal Church and directed and wrote music for barbershop choruses. She helped rear her grandchildren and worked as a bookkeeper in a chiropractor's office.
Gwendolyn Eddy Yelland was born in 1934 in Clarksburg. The youngest of six children reared by farmers Robert and Zella Yelland, she excelled in academics and piano and was a state tennis champion at Clarksburg High School.
She was studying English at UC Berkeley when she met Robert Schweitzer, a Navy officer and aviator, on a blind date. They married in 1956 and raised a family in Florida, Hawaii, Virginia and California.
Mrs. Schweitzer shared a love of music with her husband, who sang in Navy barbershop quartets. She founded the Sweet Adelines group in Honolulu, performed with chapters in Lemoore and Northern California and was a certified arranger of barbershop chorus music.
Lively and outgoing, she moved to Auburn to be near friends and played music from hymns to hard rock on the organ.
She loved four-wheel-drive road trips with close friends and exploring old mining and ghost towns in Northern California and Nevada.
In a 1973 interview, she told The Bee that her husband once said he wanted her to remarry if he were killed in Vietnam so their sons would have a father figure. She never did.
"She devoted her life to one man, and that was Bob Schweitzer," her son said. "When he died, a big piece of her was missing. But she filled her life with other things."
May 20, 2013
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Sacramento Valley Chorus, PO Box 601912, Sacramento, CA 95860