Ethelyn Cohen Swartz

Honored by:Kay Bucksbaum
Brick location:E:12  map

Ethelyn Cohen Swartz was born March 25, 1896 in Des Moines to Goldie and Benjamin Cohen the last of nine living children. She was educated in the Des Moines public schools, a charming and precocious child who skipped two elementary grades. She represented the city's schools in greeting President Theodore Roosevelt when he visited Des Moines. She also was chosen to play the part of Alice in a city production of Alice in Wonderland. She graduated from East High School in 1913 and Drake University in 1917.

Before her marriage in 1926 to Mose Swartz she was a highly respected teacher of English at East High School and continued her education in graduate schools at the University of California at Berkley and at Columbia University in New York. She was of independent mind and took a cruise to Europe and made a grand tour of the continent in the 1920's. She also began life-long investing in the stock market at that time.

Among the historic firsts which she personally experienced were being present in Madison Square Gardens for the first national radio broadcast by President Coolidge and flying as a passenger in an early bi-plane. She has said that her parents were among the first in the city of Des Moines to own a telephone and to own an automobile. The school system in those days objected to employing married teachers so she became a full-time homemaker after marriage, becoming one of the city's better bridge players and working in volunteer capacities in Jewish and civic organizations. She was instrumental in forming several book and study groups. She and her husband had two children, Carolyn Swartz, born in 1929, and Benjamin Cohen Swartz, born in 1932.

During World War 11, she served on the city's rationing board and volunteered for the war effort in many capacities. She was president of the Sisterhood of Temple B"Nai Jeshurun and headed the women's campaign of the local United Jewish Appeal for about ten years. She was in the forefront of people standing for racial tolerance in the city.

She died in Des Moines in 1999 at age 103.

Submitted on 7/1/96