John B. Schwemm ’56 Memorial

John B. Schwemm ’56 died October 28, 2011.
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Jack died last fall, just months after Nan Prickett, his wife of 55 years. After graduating from the college magna cum laude, he went to Michigan Law School, where he was an associate editor of the Law Review. At graduation, he was elected to the Order of the Coif, the national law honor society. His distinguished career began with the firm of Sidley and Austin in Chicago, where he worked on the merger of the Great Northern and Union Pacific Railroads. In 1965 Jack moved to R.R. Donnelley & Sons, a printing and communications company, where he stayed until retirement. He served variously as general counsel, president and ultimately chairman of the board—only the second person outside the Donnelley family so to serve. In addition, he served as a director of Walgreen Co., Square D Co., USG Corp. and William Blair Funds. He was also a trustee of the Newberry Library and Northwestern University. After retirement, he and Nan spent time in Florida, traveled every year in the United States and enjoyed their two daughters and grandchildren. They were always active in their church.

Jack’s love for the college was palpable, especially in the establishment, in 1991, of the Schwemm Fund, to expose students to scholars and public figures who have demonstrated moral purpose and have acted with responsibility toward others. Jim Donnelley, former vice chairman of the company, said, “Jack was an outstanding business leader, a great friend and a man of the highest personal integrity.” His brother Dick told me that Jack, as an undergraduate, frequently eschewed dinner and caught a snack later in the evening. So it is entirely appropriate that the snack bar at the college carries his name. We miss our distinguished classmate.

—Henry B. Pearsall ’56

—James C. Blackburn ’56