UNLV professor's expertise, thriftiness recalled at service

Keith Schwer was remembered as a "pointy-head economist" by his colleagues at UNLV, as a loving father and husband by his family members and as a respected academician and proud resident of the Las Vegas community by many of the 300 people who attended his eulogy Thursday at Tam Alumni Center on the university campus.

Schwer, professor of economics at University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and executive director of the Center for Business and Economic Research for 23 years, died Dec. 3 of esophageal cancer. He was 66.

The "K" in Keith stood for knowledge, said Michelle Nicholl, one of Schwer's three daughters.

"I considered him a walking encyclopedia," she said at the standing room-only memorial service. "When my children had a question I couldn't answer, I said, 'Call your grandpa.'"

Schwer would read "extremely thick books on (Abraham) Lincoln just for fun," his daughter said.

Schwer's memorial program quoted Lincoln: "In the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years."

Paul Jarley, dean of the College of Business at UNLV, said Schwer never told him he was sick, never told him he was losing weight and never told him he was having trouble walking until he needed a cane and later a wheelchair.

He was more concerned that funding was in place for Nevada Kids Count, part of a nationwide project to gather social, economic and educational information on children, Jarley said.

Schwer was at ground zero for the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York on Sept. 11, 2001. He repeatedly told a story about a firefighter who was entering one of the towers as he was leaving. The firefighter was on the phone to his wife and his last words were, "Take care of the kids," Jarley related.

Schwer was a military historian who would tell stories from the Civil War and World War II at his Economic Outlook presentations.

"I'm pretty sure he liked In-N-Out Burger," Jarley said. "I've only been in there three or four times, and Keith was there every time."

Nicholl said her father guided and disciplined his children and taught them the value of a dollar. When they were living in Vermont and complained about the cold, he told them to put on another sweater, she said.

He drove a 1989 Chevrolet Suburban, a vehicle the family called "The Beast," which came to symbolize his thriftiness, Nicholl said.

"Why trade it in? It runs. It's cheaper to fix than to buy a new one," he would say.

Schwer was born March 18, 1943, in Sapulpa, Okla. He received his bachelor's and master's degrees at University of Oklahoma and his doctorate in economics at University of Maryland.

He is survived by his wife, Kaye; three daughters, Nancy Achambault, Amanda Schwer and Nicholl; and three grandchildren.

Contact reporter Hubble Smith at hsmith@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0491.