“I talked to my sister who is coming back from Abilene, and she said we should do the interview in memory of daddy.”
Shannon Adams sent that text to a Bulletin reporter Saturday morning, just hours after her father — Larry Schwartz, a longtime supporter and donor to the Brown County Youth Fair — died in an Abilene hospice.
The interview with Adams and her family — including her son, Dalton, 13, who won the grand champion award for his market goat at the youth fair — had already been scheduled for Saturday afternoon. The family kept the interview appointment to talk about Schwartz’s legacy. They talked about how Schwartz was an inspiration for Dalton and the entire family during Youth Fair week as they prepared for the family patriarch’s death.
“I think that would be an honor,” Adams texted last week in scheduling the interview, while her father was still alive. “Daddy was, and always has been, a supporter of the youth, from my sister and I showing, to his grandson.”
At 5 a.m. Saturday, Schwartz — “a little man with a big personality and a big heart,” Adams said — died.
“Daddy was not one to back down from adversity,” Adams texted Saturday morning. “He stared it in the face and dealt with it! That’s why Dalton showed, because that’s what daddy would expect, and that’s how he raised us.”
Dalton Adams, an Early Middle School seventh-grader, has shown animals in just two youth fairs — in 2018 and 2019. In addition to winning the grand champion market goat award at this year’s fair, Dalton also won junior showmanship for market goats.
In the family’s living room near Blanket, Dalton gathered with his parents, Donnie and Shannon; sister Morgan, a 20-year-old Tarleton State University junior; his aunt, Shelly Jasek, who is Shannon’s sister; and his grandmother, Ruth Schwartz, the mother of Shannon Adams and widow of Larry Schwartz.
Shannon Adams said her father had been hospitalized since Jan. 3 and remained conscious until the next day. “He was very aware of everything,” Adams said. “He knew when the youth fair was. My mom said, and I knew it, that we would show and we would have these animals ready to go, because that would be his wish. That would be his expectation.
“My husband Donny has basically picked up the reins and took care of getting the goats ready, getting them fed, drenched, weighed in, everything, while I was making trips.”
Adams said her father was the inspiration for the family to continue preparing for the youth fair even as his death approached. “You don’t let adversity slow you down, and just because there’s a stumble, you don’t fall,” Adams said. “You get back up, you get over that rock and you keep pushing forward.
“We knew, even though he wouldn’t be there bodily, he’d be there spiritually with us. We knew he was sick, but we still had to push forward. Mom was the driving force and telling us ‘you have to do this, your dad would want you to do this.’”
Wednesday morning, with the youth fair at its midway point, Shannon Adams prepared to leave her unconscious father in his hospice room to travel to Brownwood for Dalton’s showing.
“I said ‘daddy, I’ve got to go. Today’s the day that Dalton shows,’” Adams recalled. “He had not been very responsive at all. I saw a tear. He knew. He knew.”
Dalton said his grandfather had watched him show a goat at the 2018 youth fair. Wednesday morning, as he prepared to travel to the youth fair grounds to show his goat, Dalton saw a cardinal in a tree outside his home.
“I walked inside and I told my mom ‘I saw paw-paw,” Dalton said, “And she said ‘what?’ I said ‘there’s a cardinal outside.’”
Shannon Adams explained the significance of the sighting. “There’s a story that when you see a cardinal, that means an angel’s with you,” Adams said.
“That’s what Dalton associated — that his paw-paw was here with him.”
From the spectator stands, Morgan Adams and her mother watched Dalton show his goat. Morgan face-timed the event to her aunt Shelly’s phone, who was in Schwartz’s hospital room along with Ruth Schwartz.
Morgan Adams said said she knew their grandfather was proud of Dalton for wining the grand champion award. “You could just feel him there,” Morgan said. “You knew paw-paw was there. It was just a really good feeling.”
Dalton said he was “so proud” of himself and his goat. “I thought, that was all paw-paw,” Dalton said. “He had a good talk with the Lord that day, and he made sure I was going to do good.”
Ruth Schwartz said the family was “very excited and proud of him because he’s worked hard with his goats. He’s had a full schedule with playing football, and basketball, and taking care of his goats, plus making the A honor roll.”
As a high school student in Priddy, Larry Schwartz had shown hogs, Ruth said. “Then the girls showed sheep and steers when they were in school.”
Shannon Adams said the family would be attending the fair’s Premium Sale later Saturday afternoon — and she knew it would be an emotional time.
“When you’re in the youth fair, it’s not just you competing against other people,” Adams said. “You’re part of a big family and everybody cares about everybody else. And the outpouring of support that we have received this week from our youth fair family has been very overwhelming, but it has been greatly appreciated.”
Donny Adams said he talked to people at the fair he’d never previously met, who told him they knew Larry Schwartz. “That was awesome,” he said.
Shannon Adams said, “These people know daddy. I had on my Schwartz t-shirt. People would tell Dalton ‘we’re so proud of you, I know your paw-paw’s happy.’ It’s the kind of love and support that you receive from people in this organization.”
There is competition, but when the competition’s over, it’s like you’re all family,” Ruth Schwartz said.
Shannon Adams said she felt her father’s presence at the fair. “It was so strong that I felt like he should be walking in just any moment,” Adams said. “When Dalton won his first class and he won first place, at that moment, I knew he was there spiritually — especially after Dalton had seen the cardinal that morning. I knew he was there.
“For me it was extremely overwhelming, because I’m the first to say, I’m a daddy’s girl. He was there.”
The family is not going to be able to participate in this year’s Pig Project, which Larry Schwartz helped pioneer for Good Samaritan Ministries, Adams said.
“We have made the commitment that next year we are going to call that the Larry Schwartz’s Legacy Pig Project and we will continue it to help the community of Brownwood and also to help the youth of the county as well,” she said.
Ruth Schwartz said her husband was "an energetic little man."
"A little man with a big heart and a big personality," Shannon Adams added.
Schwartz said the family needs to thank the community for its support of the Pig Project in previous years and for its support of the family.
“That goes back to the youth fair family,” Shannon Adams said. “He will be sorely missed. It’s been a heart-wrenching but wonderful … he was there in spirit.”