Obituary: Shirley Barnes Schwab

Beloved wife, mother, grandmother, traveler, volunteer

Shirley Barnes Schwab, loving wife, mother, and grandmother, died peacefully at The Cove in La Jolla, California on December 19, 2022. She was 95.

Shirley was born in Pomona on October 4, 1927, the daughter of Stanley E. Barnes and Alma Cecelia Evans. She was preceded in death by her older brother Stanley R. Barnes, and her husband Paul E. Schwab, Jr.

She grew up surrounded by citrus groves in La Verne and Claremont. She was active in music (piano, violin, choral) and sports, excelling in academics and forming lifelong friendships with her Claremont High School classmates. After graduation she followed her mother and brother’s path to Pomona College, where she majored in psychology and was awarded membership in the Phi Beta Kappa Society, graduating in 1949. During her first year at Pomona, she met Paul Schwab. They were married four years later. She was an active alumna of Pomona and treasured her class reunions.

When Paul began his graduate studies at Stanford University, she taught elementary school in Sunnyvale until she became a full-time mother and homemaker. They soon moved to Claremont after their son Paul was born, later followed by two daughters, Katherine, and Margaret. Her passion for music and sports was instilled in her children. She never missed the Olympics, including the 1984 Los Angeles games, which she attended in-person. Watching her children and grandchildren thrive, including spending time with them at swim meets and music performances, brought her great joy. In typical fashion, she warmly embraced the addition of a step-granddaughter into the extended Schwab family.

In 1961 the family moved to the Washington, D.C. area. The move, initially planned for three or four years, turned into 13, during which she made wonderful friends, became devoted to tennis, and shuttled her children to endless swim practices and meets. Every weekend during the family’s first year in D.C. she took her children to one of the many famous national museums on the National Mall.

Later she enjoyed memorable trips with her husband to all continents, with highlights including China, India, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and numerous locations in Europe, primarily with the Stanford University alumni tours. She celebrated special family gatherings in Kona, Hawaii, Estes Park, Colorado, and Alisal Ranch, California.

In 1974 the family moved to La Jolla for seven years before returning to the D.C. area for another seven years. From 1987 to 2009, in both D.C. and La Jolla, she was involved with the ARCS Foundation, where she enjoyed friendships with fellow members along with the accomplishments of young scientists who received scholarships from the nonprofit.

In later years the couple settled back into their La Jolla home and enjoyed travel abroad and in the U.S., golf at the La Jolla Country Club, and tennis and barbeques on the beach with family and friends at the La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club. Her interest in family genealogy occupied her attention over several decades.

In 2007 they moved to the La Jolla retirement community of White Sands, with its lively schedule and social life, and where her abiding interest in bridge could flourish. Throughout her life she maintained her subscription to the Claremont Courier and her strong ties to the town of Claremont.

Survivors include her children Paul E. Schwab, III (Meredith Austin), Katherine Schwab (Ronald Davidson), and Margaret Schwab (Scott Johnston); grandchildren Daniel, Anna (Ritvik Mishra), and Laura Schwab; step-grandchild Stephanie Davidson; and numerous relatives and friends.

A celebration of life will take place at 3 p.m., Saturday, February 25 at La Jolla Presbyterian Church, 7715 Draper Ave., La Jolla, CA 92037. It will be livestreamed at

In lieu of flowers, the family has requested donations be made in the memory of Shirley B. Schwab to either ARCS San Diego Chapter at, or by check to ARCS San Diego Chapter, P.O. Box 8394, Rancho Santa Fe, CA 92067; or The Salvation Army, Southern California Division at, or by check to Salvation Army, San Diego Regional Office, 6605 University Ave., San Diego, CA 92115.


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