Obituaries here rarely attract attention, and without serious connections on social networks, some important information is hidden from view.

Thus, a recent visit to basketball at Ewing High brought the news of the death of 82-year-old Gail Richard “Sandy” Schwilk, a former teacher, coach and supporter of all things blue and devilish.

Schwilk, a beloved husband, father, grandfather, brother, friend and coach, died after a brief illness at Capital Health Hopewell Hospital on 22 February.

Ewing School honored Schwilk with a minute of silence before the boys’ basketball team played in Somerville in a Group III match of the Central Jersey Tournament.

Of course, we grieve for relatives and friends, but the first thought in my head was noted – never has such a great man celebrated a smile bigger than his significant growth.

In fact, Schwilk’s smile undoubtedly looked out of those face masks worn during Covid-19.

Michael Van Wagner, vice president of public relations at NJM Insurance Group, told Schwilk News.

Van Wagner attended services for Schwilk. He said the memorial events included newspaper stories about Schwilk’s many sporting achievements, including 31 points and 30 rebounds at Blue Mountain High in Schuylkil Haven near his hometown of Orwigsburg, Pennsylvania.

Thirty to thirty? The man would like to witness these efforts, especially since Mercer County basketball has lacked the best game of the big man for decades.

Schwilk’s courtly success allowed him to enter the Blue Mountain Basketball Hall of Fame, where he held several long-standing records.

Doug Morgan, Blue Mountain High’s sporting director, said Schwilk’s 31-point mark lasted until this year, when Cade Henninger scored 43. Schwilk’s double-double of 30 remains intact.

Morgan asked about alum, and he got part of Schwilk’s obituary.

A graduate of Lafayette College in 1962, Sandy taught science and chemistry at Fisher High School and Ewing High School for thirty-seven years.

He coached the Ewing High School golf team for more than thirty years and led the Fisher Junior High basketball team before becoming an Ewing High School basketball coach as well as an assistant university coach with his longtime friend Emil Vandishin.

Schwilk also entered the Ewing High School Sports Hall of Fame. Schwilk taught driving education and worked as the director of the Ewing Summer Basketball League in Moody Park.

An avid golfer, Schwilk enjoyed membership in the Cutthroats golf group as well as in the senior golf team Mountain View Silver Grizzlies.

Sandy had over 40 years of membership at the Beaver Run Hunting and Fishing Club in Pike County, Pennsylvania. He lived a long life with his wife of fifty-seven years, Jane C. Schwilk.

Schwilk also has children Eric Schwilk, Heidi Nemchak (husband of Brian) and Gretchen Schwilk; and his grandchildren Mackenzie, Logan, Addison Nemchak and Penelope Schwilk. He also has a brother, Larry Schwilk (wife of Karen) from Euphrates, Pennsylvania.

Schwilk’s address included a deep voice, sensational wit and memorable laughter.

And, smile, just like that 30/30 show? Incomparable.

In memory of Sandy you can contribute to the Meals on Wheels of Mercer County.

L. A. Parker is a Trento columnist. Find it on Twitter @LAParker6 or email it at

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