JASPER, IN - Gervase Schwenk, a 64-year associate of Jasper Engines & Transmissions, passed away Sept. 8. He was 86.
"Not only do we lose a good friend, unbelievable businessman and chairman, but truly a gentle giant who was extremely humble and cared more about others than he cared about himself," said Jasper President Doug Bawel. "His loss will be tough, but his legacy must live on."
Schwenk began his career with Jasper on April 1, 1946. A World War II veteran, he was hired by Jasper founders, Hilda and Alvin Ruxer, as a bookkeeper. Though he had very little formal higher education, he soon became involved in all phases of Jasper Engines & Transmissions, serving as general manager, building-construction planner, and equipment designer.
A self-taught computer programmer, Schwenk wrote many company computer programs. Among other activities, he managed the company's investments and finances. According to the company, he was recently recognized as in the top 10 percent of fund managers in the United States.
Schwenk was considered by many as "the answer man," the one everyone turned to when there was a problem. He is remembered as an associate who implemented Ruxer's business ideas, yet remained modest, and famously downplayed the uniqueness of his own efforts for the company.
"Although we all have our special memories, and I'm sure many of those will be shared, each of us must work a little smarter to ensure the foundation Gervase has laid continues," added Bawel.
Schwenk's skills as a businessman, and his love of community, caused many organizations in Southern Indiana to seek his counsel. He was an active board member of Memorial Hospital and Health Care Center in Jasper, and on the Board of Catholic Foundation of Southwestern Indiana. He previously served on the Vincennes University Foundation Board, The Dubois County Community Foundation Board for 10 years, the Precious Blood Capital Campaign, the Sisters of Saint Benedict (EAC and Investments Committee), the Board of Directors for Fifth Third Bank, and the Saint Meinrad Archabey Endowment Committee.
Schwenk was the recipient of the President's Community Excellence Award in 2009 by the Jasper Chamber of Commerce, which pays special recognition to an individual who has done an outstanding job in making Jasper a better place to live. He was also the recipient of the Boy Scout Distinguished Service Award in 1995, and the Brute Society Award in 1992.