Sonia Weinberg Schwartz, a lifelong resident of Atlanta, died peacefully on Nov. 28, 2016, at her home in Atlanta.
She was 93 years old and the widow of William Bernstein Schwartz, Jr., an Atlanta business and civic leader and U.S. Ambassador to the Bahamas. Born April 11, 1923, Sonia was the younger daughter of A.J. and Lillian S. Weinberg of Atlanta.
Her father, born in Poland, immigrated to the United States as an infant, and moved to Atlanta as a young man. He owned a soda fountain at the end of the trolley line in downtown Atlanta, which perhaps explains Sonia’s lifetime love of a Coca-Cola over crushed ice. Later he co-founded Atlanta Linen Service, which later became National Linen Service and then National Service Industries, Inc.
After having spent her first years in an apartment at the corner of Piedmont Avenue and 14th Street, in 1926, the family moved to Buckhead and built one of the early houses there on Chatham Road, when roads in Buckhead were still unpaved. Sonia attended E. Rivers Elementary School, Washington Seminary, House in the Pines School and National Park Junior College. At a dance in her early teens she met Bill Schwartz. There was an immediate attraction and from then on they had eyes only for each other. In her childhood diary Sonia gushingly predicted, “I am going to marry Billy Schwartz!” And a few years later in December 1942, at The Temple, she did marry her “Billy,” who was an Ensign in the Navy and had just finished Officer Candidate School. Sonia and Bill raised three boys, and people often confused the fashionable, petite brunette with sunny disposition and easy laugh as their older sister.
Sonia loved needlepoint, swimming, travel, and reading, but mostly she enjoyed gathering people together. Her dinner parties were coveted. She was generous with all things except her recipes; those she kept secret. Sonia and Bill lived at the U.S. Embassy Residence in Nassau from 1977-1981, and thereafter the Bahamas became a happy home away from home for Sonia and her family. Sonia and Bill also spent over forty years in Sarasota Florida, where they had a home.
As chair of The Chatham Valley Foundation, a family philanthropy, she was a quiet and focused leader in its endowment of the Weinberg Center for Holocaust Education, the Weinberg Early Learning Center at The Temple and the Weinberg Scholarship at Brandeis University. Sonia was a devoted wife, daughter, sister, aunt, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, and is survived by three sons and their wives, all of Atlanta: William B. Schwartz III (Nina); Arthur Jay Schwartz (Joyce); and Robert C. Schwartz (Terry).
Her six grandchildren and their spouses are Colby Schwartz (Caroline Wainwright), Tracy Stillman (Enan), Allison Schwartz (Derrick Farnham), Clay Ellish (Brad), Katie Schwartz, and William B. Schwartz IV. In addition, there are eight great-grandchildren: Max and Wills Ellish, twins Lali and Jacob Stillman, Zev Stillman, AJ Farnham and Elinor and Jane Schwartz as well as her sister-in-law, Mary Jane Schwartz of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, six nieces and three nephews, Lillian Goldstein Friedlander of Atlanta, Ellen Goldstein of St.Jose, Costa Rica , Ann Glick of Cincinnati, Ohio, Marc Schwartz of St Paul, Minnesota, Sidney Williams, Sonia Collins, Michael Schwartz, Jay Schwartz and Jane Vickman all of Myrtle Beach South Carolina. Her sister Harriet (Mrs. Elliott Goldstein) pre-deceased her.
The family is most grateful to her caregivers Christine Lannaman, Naomi McGregor, Vivienne Davis and Leslie Quintana for their many years of love and devotion. A private family burial will take place. Donations may be made to the Sonia W. Schwartz Playground Fund /Weinberg Early Learning Center at The Temple, 1589 Peachtree Street, Atlanta, Georgia 30309. Online condolences may be made at hmpattersonspringhill.com.