A native of Kutztown, Pennsylvania, John Schwoyer graduated from Kutztown Teacher’s College, (Kutztown University), and taught school before earning his degree in chemical engineering at Lehigh in 1917. During World War I, he was drafted and worked in the chemical warfare unit in Washington, D.C. He remained in Washington after the war, working as an examiner in the U.S. patent Office until he retired. He studied law at night, earning a degree from National University, though he never practiced law.
“My life has been sort of a day-to-day affair,” Schwoyer told a Washington-area newspaper when he turned 90. “I always had a worker’s job, since I never was in charge of anything, gave no orders – but I always made a living. If I had been more of a striver and a fighter, I might not have been here to celebrate this birthday.” Recalling advice about getting rich, “Work hard and spend not a cent,” Schwoyer invested in about 200 common stocks. He avoided spending money on what he deemed to be unnecessary: lawyers, bank trust departments, peak-rate phone calls, taxi rides, and other conveniences.
During his lifetime, Schwoyer was a contributor to Lehigh’s Annual Fund. After he died in 1985, part of his estate built the business collection floor of Fairchild-Martindale library, named in honor of his parents, Anna M. and Peter S. Schwoyer. Also by bequest, he established an endowment fund.