Thursday, March 22, 2018

Women’s History Month: Remembering Alma Schwan

March 22, 2018 — Each year every March, the country celebrates Women’s History Month by
recognizing the great contributions that women have made to our nation. In honor of this annual celebration, we here at Schwan’s would like to celebrate Alma Schwan — the mother of our company’s founder Marvin Schwan and matriarch of the Schwan’s Dairy family.

For Schwan’s, Alma was one of our company’s most steadfast employees.

Alma Otilia Alvina Stelter Schwan lived all her life in Marshall, Minnesota — our company’s hometown — less than 10 miles from the farm in Island Lake Township, where she was born on Easter morning, April 7, 1901. She was one of 15 children.

Alma, who was also known as “Grandma Schwan” to many employees, was a partner to her husband, Paul, in buying part of Earl Jefferson’s milk bottling company in 1941. Several years later, the Schwan family bought out their partner, and they renamed the business Schwan’s Dairy & Dairy Lunch in 1948.

While Paul managed the dairy, Alma ran the Dairy Lunch — a popular restaurant open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. For years, she prepared all the food including ham-and-egg breakfasts, hearty lunches and mouth-watering desserts in their small apartment’s kitchen above the Dairy and carried it downstairs.

The Schwans sold the Dairy Lunch following a 1957 flood, and Alma continued to serve the company as a bookkeeper until she retired at age 77.

“Grandma Schwan” contributed more than her work ethic and business savvy to the company’s success. She exerted a powerful influence on her three sons — Alfred, Marvin and Robert — who went on to play key roles in Schwan’s Company’s growth. She raised them with a stern but loving hand, encouraging their strong sense of independence.

She always stood by them and the business.

Although Alma passed away on July 26, 1988, at the age of 97, her legacy and contributions to Schwan’s live on.

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