Dr. Stephen Schawartz was a world-renowned pathologist and expert in vascular biology based at the University of Washington and just as well-known for his large and engaging personality. He passed away on March 17 after contracting COVID-19.

Schwartz earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Harvard University in 1963 and a his MD from Boston University in 1967. He began his decades-long association with the University of Washington that same year, arriving to begin his residency and doctorate in pathology. He rose to serve as assistant professor and associate professor in the pathology department until he was appointed as a full professor in 1984, a position he held until his passing.

An avid researcher, Schwartz studied the biology of the smooth muscle cells and the structure of blood vessels, and was regarded as a giant in the field, as the CEO of UW Medicine Paul Ramsey attested in a letter shared with Schwartz’s colleagues.

He was an influential founder of the Northern American Vascular Biology Organization and co-established the Earl P. Benditt Award, honoring individuals who have made advancements in the field. He himself was honored with the award in 2001.

Schwartz was a passionate and candid individual, open for discussion and professional debate. In his later years, he became involved with Chabad of Capitol Hill in Seattle, connecting with Rabbi Levi Levitin over a cold call and a cup of coffee the very next day.

“Stephen was a very proud and vocal Jew, especially when it came to cultural practice and traditions,” Rabbi Levitin told Chabad.org, remembering his friend. “He was a familiar face in our community and a frequent attendee at our weekly Torah classes.”

Schwartz held decidedly liberal opinions on how the college should be managed. He also had strong feelings when it came to politics, which he expressed on message boards and his personal blog with his typical frankness, an essential part of his personality to all those who knew and loved him.

He is survived by his wife, Barbara, and their children, Hillel and Chaviva.

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