Governor’s Father, Adam Schweitzer, Dies at 89

By Beacon Staff

HELENA – Adam Schweitzer, the father of Gov. Brian Schweitzer, died Friday at the age of 89.

A lifelong farmer and rancher who kept working into his 80s, Adam Schweitzer died in Helena of natural causes, the governor said.

He was born May 15, 1920 in Goldstone, the sixth of nine children by Ukrainian natives Michael and Francisca Schweitzer, who came to Montana as homesteaders in 1909.

He married Kathleen McKernan of Box Elder in September 1946, and the couple had six children. They farmed and ranched north of Gildford near the Canadian border and later in Central Montana near Geyser.

The governor described his father as a hardworking businessman with little formal education but a knack for organizing and for modernizing his ranching practices.

German was his first language and he learned English only after going to school. Adam Schweitzer finished the eighth grade.

“He didn’t need a contract. He didn’t need to write it down,” the governor said. “If it was a deal it was a deal. A handshake was all it took.”

Adam Schweitzer served in World War II and in the 1950s helped form the Montana Beef Performance Association, which promoted better ranching techniques. He never got into politics but served as the Montana director of the National Farm Organization, the governor said.

The governor said he spoke with his father frequently about his early years in Montana and had asked a few years ago about the arrival of rural electricity.

“He thought about it a little bit, because he’s German, and said it was in 1948,” the governor said.

“He said, ‘You asked how it changed things: We could weld on the farm at a little hotter temperature.’ See, they’d had a wind charger since 1928. They’d had 20 years of electricity. The first people who settled Montana found out how to make electricity with wind, and we’re just learning again.”

Adam Schweitzer is survived by his wife and the couple’s six children: Darwin, Warren, Mike, Brian, Walter and Mary.

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