FAIRFIELD, Ohio — Friends of Joseph "Jo Jo" Schwarz, the 64-year-old who was killed in a nine-vehicle car crash, remembered him for his kind heart.
“His circle of influence with all his friends and all of the circles of people that he knows everyone one of them loved Jo Jo — brilliant personality, he was vibrant,” said Fairfield Mayor Mitch Rhodus, a longtime friend of Schwarz.
Ohio State Highway Patrol said a semi driven by a 75-year-old man was approaching slowed traffic from a separate crash when it hit multiple vehicles, causing a nine-car pile-up. Schwartz was a rear passenger in a car involved in the crash.
The Fairfield native was a prominent home builder, the owner of J-II Homes.
“Oh, he was a super guy to work with for Jo Jo, yeah I mean he just told you what he wanted and expected to get it and there you go,” Jack Glenn said.
“I called him up and I said I needed a new sidewalk in front of the house that he build for me, and you’d think he sent a crew out and he showed up with a jackhammer and a pickup truck and he and I jackhammered the sidewalk up ourselves,” said Greg Hatcher.
Schwarz was on his way back from a trip to Put-in-Bay with four other friends at the time of the crash. None of the others in the Suburban suffered life-threatening injuries.
Dan Graham, who grew up across the street from Schwarz, said the two used to go camping in their backyard and went on road trips.
“I remember when we were 17 we got into my old junkier and we drove to New Mexico, and I had a grandfather who lived out there and we would ride horses out there,” Graham said.
Once a month Schwarz and several of his close friends meet up for lunch. However, once they learned about his death they weren’t sure about meeting up but they are glad they did.
“There was some discussion on whether we were going to do this today," Hatcher said. "The consensus quickly became we were going to do this because he would want us to do it."
Schwarz’s friends said they were shocked when they learned of his death and are still processing it.
“When I got it, I couldn’t sleep, I walked floors, I walked outside, it’s sad,” Don Beaty said.
“I got word of this, I was on my way back from Canada, and I got word via text in the car and the guy I was riding with he even knew Jo Jo, and it was a pretty tough moment,” Hatcher said.
“I was very shocked when Randy called me the other day and told me about Jo Jo,” Glenn said.
Schwarz went to Badin High School but was close friends with several people who went to Fairfield High School. They were so close, Schwarz attended every single Fairfield High School reunion and got in on the class photo.
“He was just one of those guys like some of the others have talked about that you just gravitate to too he just had that personality, as soon as you met him you liked him because he was just fun to be with,” Mike Brill said.
“He was much larger than his reputation or persona, much, much, larger than his actual size and I doubt he’ll ever be duplicated; he was just one of those kids,” Don Beaty said.
His friends added he was someone they could always trust.
“The thing you’re going to miss the worst was his friendship. He was very loyal. He was very loyal,” Randy Hambrick said.
No matter how much time had passed, Jo Jo was always there for his friends.
“I moved to New Mexico, and then I moved to Texas and worked oil for a while, and then I was in the military over the seas for a while and as soon as I got back I got a call from Jo Jo,” Graham said.
“So, I didn’t get to know him real well in the beginning, and then I left. I joined the military and came back 20 years later after I retired and I was sitting in Symmes Tavern and Jo Jo comes in and he’s sitting across and he just starts in his normal voice. I hadn’t seen him in 20 years and he remembered me just like that,” Jim Fox said.
They all said he’s someone they will miss dearly.
“I’ve lost a lot of close friends but this one hurts a lot not probably not as tight as Mitch and Mike and stuff and Jack but this one hurt,” said Hambrick.