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Stories Behind the Bricks: Frank Schwaiger

July 19, 2010
Frank Schwaiger brick

Stories behind the bricks: Frank Schwaiger

** Editor’s note: The following story ran in the Beacon newsletter with the incorrect brick photo, the correct photo is left.

Frank Schwaiger, my loving daddy, Cullman Alabama

All of the bricks in our Statue of Liberty Plaza hold, in some way, significance for the person who put it there. To be able to hear more of the details of that story brings the inscription to life as the story behind it is told and shared.

Frank Schwaiger was a descendent of sturdy German Catholic stock that migrated to Cullman, Alabama in the 1800s. He was the eldest of 10 children and forced to drop out of school after the 8th grade to help support all the younger siblings. He came from a long line of stone masons who discovered there was stone masonry work to be done in Cullman, including the building of many stone houses, churches, fireplaces, archways, and gazebos.

It was not a high paying profession and with 3 children and a disabled wife to support, Frank was not in a position to offer his daughter much in the way of college tuition money, but he gave her everything she really needed which was being there for her, believing in her strength and abilities, and supporting her decision to leave Cullman and go to college.

Fran was recently honored when the Vanderbilt Engineering Alumni Magazine called and asked if they could write an article about her early life and how she came to be one of the early women graduates (summa cum laude) of Vanderbilt’s School of Engineering. (See this link for the full story in their Alumni Magazine .

Fran’s story is an example of a life lesson that many of us know. It’s been said that as a child, we can make it if we have at least one adult (a parent, an aunt, a grandfather, a close friend) whom we believe really believes in us. If we are fortunate enough to have that experience, then we can begin to believe in ourselves. And then, we can do anything.

Written by Libby Carr

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