Charles Henry Schwenke, 82, of LeClaire, Iowa peacefully entered eternal life on Sunday, May 27 at Clarissa Cook Hospice in Bettendorf. A man of strength and courage, Charles battled Glioblastoma with resilience and optimism. At the time of his passing, Charles was surrounded by his four children: Stephen, Angelika, John, and Anthony.
Charles was born in rural Ollie, Iowa on October 6, 1935 to Ray Karl Sr. and Evelyn Naomi Schwenke. During his youth, Charles attended the Lancaster School in rural Keokuk County, Iowa. Throughout his life, Charles would love to recount stories of the school. It was there, in the two-story wooden country schoolhouse, that Charles said the seeds were planted within him for a life dedicated to service to the community. Charles later graduated from Sigourney High School in Sigourney, Iowa. After graduation, Charles enrolled at the University of Iowa College of Pharmacy. Taking a small break from his college studies, Charles enlisted in The United States Army. During his time in the Army, Charles was stationed at Fort Lee, Virginia. When his service in the Army was completed, Charles returned to The University of Iowa to finish his studies in pharmacy. In 1964, Charles graduated with the degree Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy. In 1975, he married Jacqueline Laura Brenner Smith of LeClaire. Together they raised five children: Stephen, Gregory, Angelika, John, and Anthony.
In 1969, Charles came to LeClaire to become the town’s first pharmacist in 65 years. Originally opening Schwenke Pharmacy at 103 N. Cody Road, Charles operated out of the storefront until expanding to 126 S. Cody Road where he practiced until retirement in 2009. Charles did not just play the part of a small-town pharmacist, he lived and breathed the role. His dedication to the residents of LeClaire, and outlying communities, will be remembered by countless for years to come. Charles always stated that people don’t get sick from 9 to 5, and part of his job was being there when needed. Without hesitation, he would open his doors afterhours to help those that depended on him for their medication. If mobility was an issue, he delivered the needed medication – regardless of location, time, or weather conditions. Charles always felt that if you took care of the community, and dedicated yourself to helping the community, the community would take care of you. To those who knew him, it was easy to see how his upbringing in rural Iowa taught him the lessons that he carried throughout his life.
Charles was an extremely active member of The First Presbyterian Church in LeClaire, serving as an Elder and on multiple committees. He was also a former member of The LeClaire City Council, LeClaire Lions Club, and Snow Masonic Lodge #44. During his free time, Charles loved to spend time with his family, go fishing along the Mississippi River, and watch documentaries about the Civil War.
Survivors include his children: Stephen of LeClaire, Iowa; Angelika of Wheeler, Oregon; John of LeClaire, Iowa; and Anthony of Moline, Illinois. Siblings: Gerri (Schwenke) Greiner of Coralville, Iowa; Gloria (Schwenke) Millikin of Oskaloosa, Iowa; Gayle (Schwenke) Nassar of Cairo, Egypt; Thomas Schwenke of Golden, Colorado; and brother-in-law John Rios of Coralville, Iowa. Six grandchildren, three great-grandchildren, and countless nieces and nephews. He is preceded in death by his wife Jacqueline, parents, son Gregory, brothers: Ray Jr, and Herman, and sister Gladys (Schwenke) Rios.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorials are made to The First Presbyterian Church of LeClaire, or The LeClaire Library.
Charles will be greatly missed not only by his family, but all those whose lives he touched.