Hope T. Schwab, 64, of Wayne, a former banking manager who on learning that she had a brain tumor embraced the rest of her life with an ambitious string of adventures, died Wednesday, March 18, of a glioblastoma in Florida.
In March 2010, six months after she was diagnosed, Mrs. Schwab wrote a letter to her adult daughters, Rachel Turbet and Diana Himmelstein. The letter was designed to "keep teaching and guiding us, even if she wasn't around," Turbet said.
Mrs. Schwab's husband, Gary, said nothing could slow her down. "She was determined to do everything on her bucket list," he said.
The Schwabs climbed Mount Washington in New Hampshire; toured England, Scotland, Amsterdam, Brussels, Paris, Rome, and Florence; hiked in Italy's mountains; and climbed in the Swiss Alps.
"Until her brain tumor, she had never been to Europe," her husband said. The two drove or took a train because a tour group was "way too unadventurous for her," he said.
A Wayne resident who wintered in Tucson, Ariz., Mrs. Schwab ascended Wasson Peak in the Tucson area. When she reached the summit after the main pack, fellow members of the Southern Arizona Hiking Club cheered.
Mrs. Schwab underwent four craniotomies in five years to reduce her tumor, the last surgery in December 2014. Several weeks ago, she and her husband withdrew to a condo in Florida for full-time hospice care.
A volunteer for the National Brain Tumor Society, Mrs. Schwab was the third-largest fund-raiser for the organization's Race for Hope in 2014.
Last May, she lobbied Congress to raise awareness about pediatric brain tumors and to ask for increased federal funding for brain tumor research. She also volunteered with Living Beyond Breast Cancer.
As her health failed, she made special arrangements to spend time with her family and friends. She loved dogs, and walked them for a local animal shelter.
Born in Philadelphia, Mrs. Schwab graduated from Lower Merion High School and Drexel University. She worked as a midlevel manager at Philadelphia National Bank.
The Schwabs married in 1973 and moved to New York, where she worked in the bank's international division on Wall Street. In 1976, the two moved back to Philadelphia. She enrolled in the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and received her master's degree in business administration in 1980. After Wharton, she developed marketing and data collection strategies for Nutrisystem.
Besides her husband and daughters, Mrs. Schwab is survived by a grandson.
A funeral will be at 1 p.m. Sunday, March 22, at Haym Salomon Memorial Park, Frazer.
Hope Schwab's letter of love
to her two daughters
Here is a condensed version of the letter Hope T. Schwab left for her daughters:
Dear Rachel and Diana,
Since the time I was young, I have pushed myself to do whatever I needed to, even when that has been difficult. That's why I had an easier time than others going through the medical things I have dealt with.
Try to find the best in every situation. I just finished reading a book by [Viktor] Frankl. He was a Holocaust survivor who endured horrific experiences. He said we cannot control everything in our lives. But we can control [our] attitude in any given set of circumstances.
I find that the more I learn, the more I am curious about. I wish my memory was a little better so I could remember all my reading. But even if I remember only some, it enriches my life. The pursuit of education is a great value to pass along to your children.
Time goes by so quickly. But now it's going at the speed of light. My attitude has helped me be realistic about the rest of my life and not be depressed. It has helped me appreciate the love for my family, great friends, the means to travel - and to accept the fact that we all will die someday. So I might as well make the most of what I can do now.
I realize that even at this stage, I cannot stop giving directions. Humor me. That's just who I am. And I mean well.
Lots of love,
Follow this link to view Gary Schwab's tribute video to his wife: https://youtu.be/-_GS1gha3Vk