[UPDATED 4/11/13 at 8:28 p.m. ET/5:28 p.m. PT]
BELLMORE, N.Y. -- Family and friends of Karen Schwartz, the wife of New York operator Doug Schwartz, gathered Tuesday evening to remember and pay respects to her. Karen Schwartz, 49, died April 5 after an illness.
Doug Schwartz is the owner of Executive Limousine, which he founded in 1996, and a longtime past president of the Long Island Limousine Association, where he remains on the board of directors. Schwartz has been active in the limousine industry for many years as a leader, an advocate and a regular presence at industry trade shows and events. He also is known for his many helpful instructional videos about various industry topics.
About 500 friends, colleagues and family members appeared during visiting hours on Tuesday, April 9 at C.S. Bartholomew and Son Funeral Home, at 302 Bedford Ave. in Bellmore, offering condolences to the Schwartz family. Karen Schwartz is survived by three children: Natalie, 22; Andrew, 18; and Gregory, 12. It was evident from the high attendance that Karen was loved and adored by all. Karen succumbed to a long battle with breast cancer at home with her family.
Industry friends of Doug Schwarz traveled from as far as Boston and Philadelphia to support the family.
“It’s important to be here for Doug and his family,” said Matt Silver of Ultimate Class Limousine in Hicksville, N.Y., who attended with his wife. “Karen was a wonderful person. She will be deeply missed by all.”
Arthur Messina of Create-A-Card Inc. and his wife, Kathy, will especially miss Karen. “We will miss the quality time that we had away from the industry. Our families, Doug, Karen and their kids as well as the Tonkonogys of ETS/Exceptional in Boston, would spend Memorial Day, summertime, end of summers together. We were all just friends. There will be a void in that group without Karen. That is what we are going to miss the most — being all together as friends.
“Kathy and Karen were texting on a daily basis. We will really miss her,” Arthur Messina added.
She is also being remembered as someone who "found and gave great joy by gathering with family and friends for any of the host of reasons that bring people together," according to a local obituary announcement.
The National Limousine Association e-mailed a message of condolence and sympathy to limousine industry members on Monday afternoon. "For all those who had the pleasure of knowing Karen, it was evident her enthusiasm carried beyond just those she would meet. The commitment of a love that she and Doug shared as husband/wife is testimony of the deep values they hold for life and people in general," the message stated.
A private graveside service was held Wednesday. Long Island Limousine Association President Robert Cunningham organized a procession of 12 limousine vehicles from the funeral home to the cemetery to show industry support to the Schwartz family.
The Schwartz family will continue need the support of their industry friends as the face a life without Karen’s daily presence.
Sources: Linda Jagiela, LCT Magazine; Bellmore Patch; NLA