‘Mr. Tidioute’

Johnson Street renamed after lifelong resident

Photo submitted to Times Observer The plaque dedicating the renaming of Johnson Street in Tidioute in honor of life-long resident Robert Schwab.

They called him “Mr. Tidioute.”

It may have just been his own sons, all four of them, who called their late father that, according to Nancy Schwab. She isn’t sure.

But the nickname is certainly appropriate.

Nancy said she was married to the late Robert “Bob” Ellsworth Schwab for 64 years. They met in high school and lived their entire lives in Tidioute.

“He loved Tidioute,” Nancy said. “We never even thought of leaving Tidioute or the area.”

Photo submitted to Times Observer From left, with the new street sign renaming Johnson Street to Schwab Street in Tidioute are Pam McLaughlin, Kirk Schwab, Nancy Schwab, Joe Schwab, Neil Schwab, Maureen Schwab, and Karly Schwab. Kirk and Neil are sons, and Joe and Karly are grandchildren. Maureen is a daughter-in-law.

She’s touched that the town would honor her late husband by renaming a street in town after him.

Schwab Street, formerly Johnson Street, is the street that leads to the boat launch; take a right when you come across the bridge and it’s one block down.

Nancy said she’s already driven on the street “down by the boats.”

Years ago, her husband would wake up on a crisp morning and take a little boat out to fish in the beautiful outdoor surroundings of Tidioute, watching eagles fly over.

It’s what her husband loved most about Tidioute.

A dedication for the family was held at the 60th Pennsylvania State Championship Fishing Tournament on Saturday, Sept. 28. A plaque was placed at newly-named Schwab Street.

Robert Schwab was born on June 11, 1935, in White Township, Indiana County, Indiana, Pa., and grew up in Tidioute. He began serving his community at a young age as a paperboy, an altar boy, and working at his family’s gas station and garage. He graduated in 1953 from Tidioute Area High School as the class president and valedictorian.

Following high school, he went on to attend the Ford Marketing Institute (FMI) in Dearborn, Mich., to learn Ford automotive dealership management. He worked at the family-owned and operated a business in Tidioute, later named Schwab’s Ford.

When he wasn’t working at the family business, he served in the United States Naval Reserves as an electronics technician from 1954 to 1961.

Robert married his high school sweetheart, Nancy Carol Schall, on December 31, 1955, at St. John’s Roman Church in Tidioute. They raised their family in the Tidioute valley over the next six decades.

According to his loved ones, Robert’s life was an “unselfish commitment to his family, his businesses, and numerous organizational activities that he felt were worthy causes for the people of his beloved town.”

During his life, Robert was an active member of his community as a business owner, civic leader, church activity organizer and community function participant.

He was a 46-year owner/operator of Schwab’s Ford of Tidioute and a 10-year business partner of Schwab’s Ford, Titusville. He was appointed to the Ford Dealer Council as one of the few dealers to be a voice within Ford Motor Company, representing all small dealerships across the United States.

Robert was a member of the Pennsylvania Mayoral Association, serving as mayor of Tidioute for eight years.

He also served as the President of the Tidioute Borough Council for eight years. During his two terms, he headed the effort to establish the Tidioute Towers for those in need of housing as well as bringing a water/waste treatment facility to the borough. He helped establish the Tidioute Public Library, serving as president and board member for over 30 years. He helped the growth and expansion of the library’s new wing in 2008 and 2009.

Robert was an advocate for and served as a principal board member on the current Tidioute Health Center, promoting the land acquisition and funding, architectural design and construction inputs.

He was a board member of the Tidioute and Warren County School District Authority for 17 years. He assisted with design and construction inputs to the early 1960s addition to the Tidioute School, adding a library, cafeteria, kitchen, office space, a gymnasium and elementary classrooms.

Robert was responsible for the establishment of Tidioute’s Dental Clinic and Pharmacy in the 1970s and ’80s.

He was a charter member of the Tidioute Lions Club, including terms as president, supporting functions such as the Pennsylvania State Fishing Tournament, Sight Seal campaign, town/cemetery beautification efforts, Boy Scout programs, a town trash recycling program and the town’s Little League teams in the Warren County Hot Stove league. He also, as the owner of Schwab’s Ford, individually sponsored and donated money to the town’s Little League for over a decade.

Robert was inducted into the Tidioute Basketball Hall of Fame in 1993 as a member of the renowned class of 1953 basketball team.

Robert was a member of and served as the chairman of the finance committee for the St John’s Roman Catholic Church, overseeing the renovation of the altar, funding for a new, ornate, roof, the expansion of the Catholic cemetery and assisting with the St. John Women’s Guild with the Fishing Tournament parade floats.

He was a member of the Knights of Columbus of the Fourth Degree, the VFW Post 8803 and American Legion Post 0334, as well as a Tidioute Volunteer Fire Department as a fireman.

Robert served as a member of the board of directors of the Titusville Hospital. He was a member of the Tidioute Chamber of Commerce through the 1960s and ’70s.

He supported and participated in the Tidioute Holiday Lighting Committee by providing the open space to prepare decorations.

Robert served as a member of the Grand Old Party (GOP) where he was a committed fundraiser including donating and supporting local and national Republican candidates.

He directed scholarships and grants for worthy causes within Tidioute, and the county, as a member of the Community Foundation of Warren County.

Robert played a vital role in Tidioute school’s Driver’s Education Program by lending cars to the school. He was awarded the Highway User Federation special citation for outstanding support of the program.

Robert was looked at as a mentor to many young men in the community, employing them at his dealership, where he instilled the values of “a good work ethic, the knowledge of basic mechanical principles and landscaping techniques, but more importantly how to enjoy a cold soda, all while listening to Bob’s stories after the work was done.”

Even in his passing, Robert continued to serve the community he loved by asking that memorial contributions be made to the Tidioute Public Library, Tidioute Charter School, the Tidioute Area Volunteer Fire Department, and/or St John’s Church.

He was “Mr. Tidioute.”

Nancy does admit he only fished in the state championship tournament in his hometown once and didn’t do very well.

The proclamation made by Tidioute Mayor Pamela McLaughlin for the Schwab Street dedication began, “whereas, be it known by these present that I, Pamela McLaughlin, Mayor of Tidioute, Pa., on behalf of the citizens of Tidioute Borough, do hereby recognize lifelong resident Robert Schwab for his dedication and many contributions to our community.”

The proclamation finished “Now, therefore, I, Pamela McLaughlin, Mayor of the Borough of Tidioute, Pa., do hereby proclaim that on this day, September 28, 2019, this street is to be named and forever known as Schwab Street.”

“He would be so honored,” said Nancy.


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