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    The Ruth Schwartzwalder Endowed Scholarship

    January 23, 2018

    Hall of LanguagesA granddaughter’s love for her grandmother resulted in the Ruth Schwartzwalder Endowed Scholarship in the School of Education.

    Felicia Walker ’87, a member of the School of Education’s Board of Visitors, and her husband, Jeff Saferstein ’86, created the Ruth Schwartzwalder Endowed Scholarship in 2014 in honor of the woman forever known as “Reggie,” the wife of legendary Syracuse University football coach Ben Schwartzwalder.

    “My grandmother was my No. 1 person, and I was hers. We were extremely close throughout her life,” says Walker.

    Reggie’s birthdays are a fond memory.

    “Every time Reggie would imply she was old, I would roll my eyes and say, ‘What?’ because she was the coolest, hippest person I knew, and this went on until she was 100,” Walker says. She planned Reggie’s 80th birthday, celebrated in St. Petersburg, Florida, where the Schwartzwalders had an apartment.

    “Reggie wore a pink, beaded top that I had given her. She and I both loved clothes,” Walker says. “I created a giant crossword puzzle—Reggie loved crosswords—and had each table be a team to fill in the puzzle with Reggie trivia.”

    Attendees learned that Reggie grew up in Pine Grove, West Virginia, as one of six children. Her favorite color was green. She played basketball in high school. Her father was Scottish, her mother French. She became Reggie because Ben would call her “Red” for her hair, which was reddish brown, which became “Redge” and then “Reggie.”

    The couple met at West Virginia University, where both were physical education majors graduating in 1933. The Ruth Schwartzwalder Endowed Scholarship preferably funds a female SOE student who is a physical education major.

    Ben Schwartzwalder coached football from 1949 to 1973, winning the national championship in 1959 with an undefeated team and finishing with a record of 153-91-3. Elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1982, he died in 1993.

    “Ben could not have been the coach he was without Reggie doing all the socializing. She kept that part straight,” Walker says.  

    “Reggie knew everyone’s name. She also said ‘hello’ to anyone she crossed paths with. These are two things I do very specifically in my job: greet each and every member by saying ‘hello’ and introducing myself and then I remember their names,” says Walker, a spinning instructor at the New York Health & Racquet Club.

    The family is rich in Syracuse University connections. Walker’s mother is Susan Schwartzwalder Walker ’59, her aunt is Mary Schwartzwalder Scofield ’63, and her daughter Allison Ruth Saferstein ’17 is a graduate student in the SOE. 

    Walker also planned Reggie’s 100th birthday, celebrated in 2012 at Drumlins. Reggie died later that year.

    “Reggie loved Syracuse University, and I know she would be proud of this scholarship in her name,” her granddaughter says.