Gregory S. Schwerdt, 25, student at UMBC

April 02, 2002|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Gregory S. Schwerdt, a computer enthusiast who was a senior at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County died Thursday of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center. The Catonsville resident was 25.

Born in Baltimore, Mr. Schwerdt's interest in electronics and computers began as a fourth-grader growing up in Catonsville.

It was a passion that he shared with his father, Christopher B. Schwerdt, a Northrop Grumman electrical engineer, who died two years ago.

Father and son would work hours fixing, assembling and networking computers, working in various rooms of their home or sometimes in a basement workshop.

"School was always difficult for him because he suffered from attention deficit disorder, but anything electronic or high-tech he liked," said his mother, Sally R. Schwerdt of Catonsville.

At Mount St. Joseph High School in Irvington, he qualified to study honors physics.

"If you got there, you were pretty good. He was a good student and a hard worker," said Thomas G. Hughes, who taught honors physics and is also chairman of the school's science department.

After graduating in 1995, Mr. Schwerdt enrolled at UMBC. Despite being diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in 2000, he was a senior studying information systems at his death.

Mr. Schwerdt's ability in fixing and solving computer problems placed him in high demand with relatives, friends and neighbors.

"He was sort of our computer troubleshooter. Anytime we had a problem, he'd come at the drop of a hat and spend hours trying to resolve it. He was always a tremendous help to us," said Arthur "Tim" Roden, an uncle who lives in Ellicott City.

"He'd call up and volunteer to upgrade or install new software. He wasn't looking for anything. This was fun for him, and he really knew computers. He would do things that would amaze," he said.

Described by his uncle as a "quiet and almost introverted guy," once he took on a project, he was simply oblivious to the clock.

"He was very selfless. I'd say, `It's time to go home,' or `We can do this tomorrow,' and he'd just keep on going," said Mr. Roden.

Mr. Schwerdt also enjoyed documenting family gatherings on digital photos and creating disc-albums of those events to give to relatives.

An accomplished outdoorsman, Mr. Schwerdt spent summers at a family cabin in Fallen Leaf Lake, Calif., near Lake Tahoe, where he enjoyed hiking, canoeing and swimming.

A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 10 a.m. today at Our Lady of Perpetual Help, 4795 Ilchester Road, Ellicott City, where he was a member, active in the youth group and Habitat for Humanity.

In addition to his mother, Mr. Schwerdt is survived by a brother, David P. Schwerdt of Catonsville; his maternal grandmother, Bonney Cotterell of Catonsville; and several uncles, aunts and cousins.

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