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Gervase Schwenk: Having Fun With Life

Gervase Schwenk and his daughter Carol Skillman enjoy light refreshments prior to the 2002 Mother Theodore Guerin Dinner.

“Do it right and have fun!” This is the mission statement of the Jasper Engine and Transmission Exchange in Jasper, Ind. It can also serve as the mission statement of 84-year-old Gervase Schwenk, who has worked at the facility since 1946, four years after it opened.

“We have a more lengthy mission statement, but we figure nobody reads that anyhow. That’s pretty simply stated. It applies to almost anything do it right and enjoy it,” chuckled Gervase, who is facetiously known as the chairman of the board. “I sort of believe by that axiom.”

Why shouldn’t Gervase believe in that axiom? It’s helped him throughout his work life and personal life.

Born and raised in Jasper, Gervase was taught by the Sisters of Providence for his first seven years of education at St. Joseph Grade School. After graduating from Jasper High School, he was drafted into the Army and fought in the European Theater during World War II. Upon returning home, Gervase joined the fledgling company as a bookkeeper.

“The owner’s wife wanted to be relieved to do other things,” said Gervase.

From bookkeeper, Gervase climbed the corporate ladder to become a business manager and then to his present position as manager of the company’s 401K profit sharing plan.

Through the 61 years that Gervase has given to the company, he has lived the “Do it right and have fun” motto. It’s obvious he loves what he officially does for the company, but he also enjoys being a PR man, sharing the story of Jasper Engine. He loves working with the company’s various associates. Nothing exemplifies this more than Gervase’s involvement with the annual turkey give away at Thanksgiving and Christmas. With 1,600 people at its facilities in Indiana, Missouri and Pennsylvania, plus associates of other companies that Jasper Engine works with, that’s a lot of turkeys!

That motto has also worked well in his personal life, too. He enjoyed a 44-year marriage to his beloved wife Marie, who died in 1992. They have seven children, all of whom are married and have children. Gervase lovingly boasts of his 18 grandchildren. All the kids know that Grandpa Gervase is a fun man who still enjoys water sports and an annual trip out West for snow skiing.

I’ve been pretty fortunate where I could regularly help all of these people. I enjoy doing it. It’s an element of feeling that you’re helping them out.
– Gervase Schwenk

As much as having fun is important to Gervase, he becomes serious when he talks about his faith and the Catholic Church. As an impressionable little boy, he watched as the Sisters of Providence, their long chaplets swinging by their sides, left the convent to participate in morning Mass. He also remembers his parents as being very devout Catholics. This faith Gervase and Marie passed along to their children, all of whom graduated from Precious Blood Grade School in Jasper.

Gervase’s parents, his faith and the Sisters of Providence provided a foundation upon which the framework of his life could be built. Because of this foundation, Gervase honors his parents, his faith and his wife by financially remembering the Congregation every year. In addition, Gervase assists the Congregation whenever special needs arise. His generosity is also extended to his parish and other community organizations.

“I’ve been pretty fortunate where I could regularly help all of these people. I enjoy doing it. It’s an element of feeling that you’re helping them out,” said Gervase.

Gervase Schwenk — he’s certainly done many, many things right in his life. And along the way he’s had fun. What better way to live one’s life?

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Connie McCammon

Connie McCammon worked in the communications office for the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.

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