Recently deceased Conant alum receives 2021 Hometown Hero award
1977 Conant alum Norman F. Schwartz, Jr. has been named by Conant’s Veterans Day Committee as the 2021 Hometown Hero. The Hometown Hero Award, established in 2014 by former Conant U.S. History teacher Frank Kernats, annually recognizes a former or current CHS student or staff member who has sacrificed time, effort, and energy in service to the country.
“The award is intended to recognize the service of any current or former Cougars,” committee member and social studies teacher Andrew Mikrut said.
Schwartz passed away on Oct 3. at the age of 62. “The fact that this is the first time the recognition has been given to someone who has passed allows us to recognize and share even more stories of the sacrifices all Cougars, past and present, have made to our country,” Mikrut said.
Schwartz was nominated for the award by his sister Vivian Nordmeyer, administrative assistant to assistant principal Jeannette Ardell. “I nominated him for this award because he was so proud to be an Army veteran and gave so much time to helping other veterans,” Nordmeyer said. “It makes [our family] all proud to have a family member who served his country with pride and embraced being a veteran whole heartedly. I was very humbled to hear he was receiving this award. He would have been so honored.”
According to Mikrut, Schwartz’s graduation from Conant High School in 1977, service in the US Army from 1977 to 1984, and work in District 211 from 1985 to 2014 were all important factors in his selection as the 2021 Hometown Hero.
Both Schwartz’s father and uncle served in the US Army. After graduating high school, Schwartz served six years and nine months as a military police officer, and nine months in physical security. He was initially stationed in Fort Hood, Texas before continuing his services overseas in Bremerhaven, Germany, where he met and married his wife and had their first daughter.
Following his service, Schwartz returned to District 211 in 1985 as a custodian at Schaumburg High School, eventually transferring to Conant and retiring in 2014 as a third shift supervisor.
Most recently, Norman was a commander for the Lake in the Hills American Legion Post 1231, an organization that provides service to veterans and community in the Lake in the Hills and Algonquin areas. As Post Commander, Schwartz presided over meetings of the post and executive committee and supervised the business affairs of the post as the Chief Executive officer. In addition, he served various roles such as adjunct, bar manager, rental manager, and event coordinator.
Nordmeyer describes Schwartz as an uplifting person who was devoted to serving his country, family, and community. “He had a voice that was boisterous and a laugh that was contagious. When Norman walked into the room you knew, because people would yell out “NORM” as they did in the TV show Cheers,” Nordmeyer said.
“He was such a good-hearted person who would do anything to make sure everyone had a good time,” Nordmeyer said, while recalling an instance when Schwartz and his two brothers embarked on an impromptu road trip to Florida.
According to Nordmeyer, one of Schwartz’s most notable qualities was how deeply he cared about the people around him. “No matter how much of a hard time he would give you, he was always willing to help others; from driving to doctor appointments, helping you move across town or out of state, giving advice even if it was not the advice you wanted to hear and just listening when you needed to vent or just cry. Norm would give the shirt off his back for his family and friends,” she said.
Schwartz’s family will receive a plaque that recognizes him as Conant’s 2021 Hometown Hero. In addition, his name will be added to the Hometown Hero plaque that hangs by the entrance to the Media Center.
Mikrut said it is important for Conant to continue the tradition of recognizing a Hometown Hero to help the community understand the sacrifices that have been made that allow our freedoms. “Although Norman is no longer with us, we can gain an appreciation of Veterans Day by sharing his story with the Conant community.”