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Legally blind. And a visionary

Four facts about longtime Rochesterite David Schwartzkopf, who died earlier this year. But left a legacy.

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1. David Allen Schwartzkopf was born in Pulaski, Wisconsin to Lillie and William Schwartzkopf on June 11, 1942. David was born with cerebral palsy, and developed macular degeneration as a child, which caused the slow loss of his vision. He was identified as “intellectually disabled” in his early school years. Fortunately, however, two teachers thought David should have an IQ test—and his score was very high. He would go on to graduate from Pulaski High School in 1960, and then attain degrees in mathematics and physics at the University of Wisconsin.

2. David Schwartzkopf’s personal experience with cerebral palsy and being legally blind fueled his drive to improve the lives of others who also faced the challenges of disability. From 1967 to 1996, Schwartzkopf held various positions of responsibility in IBM, from product development group and team leader to manager of technical education. While serving as a consultant, he was responsible for putting the Americans with Disabilities Act into practice at IBM, Rochester. In 1969, the company provided Schwartzkopf with an exclusive grant to enable IBM computers to print in Braille.


3. Throughout his career in the private and public sectors, David received numerous awards. Two awards were from presidents, three from governors, and one from the mayor of Rochester. Several other agencies also formally recognized David. President George H. W. Bush personally presented the 1990 Disabled American of the Year Award to David in Washington D.C. The city of Rochester awarded David the Medal of Honor in 1987. David’s smile “was a mile wide,” according to his obit, when he and others represented the disabled community as a torch bearer in the 1996 Olympic Torch Relay.

4. David Allen Schwartzkopf died on February 13, 2022. He was 79. David is survived by four stepchildren, Deborah (John) Erar, Robert Martin, Jr. (Olivia Nyhus), Michael (Jodi) Martin, and Thomas Martin; sister, Jeanne Davis, 9 grandchildren, 15 great-grandchildren, and several nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his wife, Jean Martin, his mother, Lillie Schwartzkopf, and his brother, William Schwartzkopf.

Sources: IBM archives and Post Bulletin obituary.

Related Topics: ROCHESTERIBM
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