|Intro||American sociologist and professor|
|A.K.A.||Morris S. Schwartz, Morrie|
|Was||Writer Sociologist Professor Educator|
|From||United States of America|
|Field||Academia Literature Social science|
|Birth||20 December 1916, New York City, United States of America|
|Death||4 November 1995, Newton, United States of America (aged 78 years)|
Morrie Schwartz (1916 - 1995) was an American sociologist. He had taught sociology for nearly 30 years at the Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. He is the subject of the book, Tuesdays with Morrie, a memoir written by American author Mitch Albom, who was his former student.
Morrie Schwartz was born as Morris Schwartz on December 20, 1916, in New York City, NY. His father, Charlie Schwartz, was a Russian-Jewish immigrant who had migrated from Russia to escape the army. Morrie's mother died when he was eight years old. His father later married a Romanian woman, Eva.
Schwartz was born Jewish, but he grew agnostic as a teenager due in part to the suffering he experienced as a child. While staying culturally Jewish, he adopted various beliefs and philosophies from Christianity and Buddhism.
Schwartz graduated in 1942 with a degree in Sociology form the City University of New York City College. In 1946, he enrolled with the University of Chicago and graduated with a Master's degree in Philosophy in 1948.
Later, in 1956, he received Doctor of Philosophy degree from the University of Chicago.
In June 1955, Schwartz became the Professor of Sociology at the Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. He remained with the university through out his career. Author and journalist Mitch Albom was one of his students and the two had developed a bond over the years.
In the summer of 1994, Schwartz was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS,) also known as Lou Gherig's disease, with doctor telling him that he has from 12 to 16 months to live. Instead of retreating into loneliness, Schwartz decided to teach and pass on his wisdom to as many people he could –– to friends, students and colleagues, young or old. In his last days, he has written 75 aphorisms on dying with dignity.
In 1995, Jack Thomas at The Boston Globe wrote about Schwartz' struggle in an article titled, A Professor’s Final Course: His Own Death. The article caught the attention of Richard Harris, a journalist for ABC News. He brought the article to Ted Koppel, the host of Nightline, who decided to interview Schwartz. Koppel conducted three interviews with Schwartz at his house.
Mitch Albom, who at the time was a sports columnist for Detroit Free Press, watched the first interview on Nightline. Dismayed after hearing his favorite former sociology professor Schwartz talking about his illness and imminent death due a to the terminal disease, Albom called Schwartz and arranged to visit him in suburban Boston. They met on a Tuesday and Albom decided to return the following Tuesday, and then for 16 Tuesdays in all. He recorded their intimate conversations about life and death, which he later transformed into a memoir titled Tuesdays with Morrie. Albom initially struggled to get the book published –– his manuscript being rejected by publishers receiving feedback as “Too much of a downer” and “Too much of a specialized disease.” Finally, just a few weeks before Schwartz died in 1995, Albom received an acceptance from Doubleday.
In their last conversation, Morrie asked Albom a favor: "Come visit me at my grave...But not like other people who drive up, leave flowers and drive off. I want you to stay, bring a sandwich and talk to me.” Surprised and shocked, Albom replied, “But you won’t be able to talk back.” Morrie said, “I’ll make you a deal...After I’m dead, you talk and I’ll listen.”
The book, published in 1997 was a New York Times Bestseller in October 1997. The book was also mentioned The Oprah Winfrey Show. In 1990, Oprah Winfrey produced a television movie adaptation by the same name. Jack Lemmon played the character of Schwartz and Hank Azaria played the part of Mitch Albom. It was the most-watched TV movie of 1999 and won four Emmy Awards.
Schwartz died on November 4, 1995, aged 78, in Newton, Massachusetts.
If we don’t embrace the fact that life is finite, we forget how important it is to live.
The reality is that I was a vigorous man, but right now, I'm a person who cannot move, cannot dress, cannot do most physical things without help, and you have to live in your present situation.
In terms of death, I'm on the road to acceptance. There are two ways. You can be like Dylan Thomas and rage, rage, rage at the dying of the light. But I want to die in peacefulness. I want to die feeling a comfort that it's OK, that it's part of nature to die.
Do I cry? Yes, a lot. Every once in a while I cry with my wife or my son. I have to mourn with them as well as mourn for myself. The fact that I handle this with what I consider courage and dignity is helpful to my family. And I cry with friends. You and I have cried together. That makes us buddies.
The state of the nation? Horrible, and why? We don't connect morality with politics. Who tells the truth today? And the Newt Gingrich types exclude the poor, by which they mean blacks, too, and call them morally inferior. From a moral perspective, doing that to a class of people, or even one individual, is blasphemous.
Schwartz was married to his wife Charlotte. They had two sons, Rob and Jon.
- with Alfred H. Stanton: The Mental Hospital: A Study of Institutional Participation in Psychiatric Illness and Treatment. Basic Books 1950, ISBN 978-1-59147-617-7 (2009 edition)
- with Charlotte Green Schwartz: Social Approaches to Mental Patient Care. Columbia University Press 1964
- with Emmy Lanning Shockley: The Nurse and the Mental Patient: a Study in Interpersonal Relations. Wiley 1966, ISBN 978-0-471-76610-0
- Letting Go: Morrie's Reflections on Living While Dying. Walker & Company 1996, ISBN 978-0-8027-1315-5
- Morrie: In His Own Words. Delta Publishing 1997, ISBN 0385318790