Henry M. Schwan

by | Feb 10, 2022 | Obituaries

Norfolk—Prominent Virginia attorney Henry M. Schwan, who practiced law in downtown Norfolk for 65 years, and whose family roots extend in Hampton Roads for generations, died February 2, 2022, at the age of 92.

Over the course of his career, Henry earned a reputation as one of the top domestic relations attorneys in Virginia, but it was his love for his wife, Marcia, and their four children that served as the driving force in his life.

Henry and Marcia marked their 66th wedding anniversary in September 2021, and their union was one of mutual respect and utmost devotion to their children.

Henry leaves behind Marcia and their children Elisabeth of Philadelphia; Andrea of New York City; Henry, Jr. of Framingham, Mass. (wife Nancy and daughter Martine); and Lucille Schwan Joergens of New York City (husband Thomas and children Jacob, Benjamin and Olivia).

Born August 31, 1929 to Harry Lipman Schwan and Lucille Hofheimer Schwan, Henry Maxwell Schwan was younger brother to Evelyn, two years his elder. Growing up on Colonial Avenue in Ghent and at Ocean View, he became an Eagle Scout, attended Blair Middle School and graduated from Maury High School, going on to the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Virginia School of Law.

Upon graduating law school in 1953, Henry worked in the Norfolk firm of Hofheimer Nusbaum. He enlisted in the U.S. Army and served two years in Maryland, where he also began his romance with Marcia Solomon of Baltimore, whom he married in 1955 after his two-year military hitch.

The couple settled in Norfolk, where Henry practiced law for a decade at the firm of Fine, Fine, Legum and Fine. He subsequently launched his own independent law practice and managed the firm successfully for more than 50 years. Henry attained the highest “A” professional legal rating by Martindale-Hubbell, a designation he held for decades. He lectured statewide on domestic relations law for the Virginia State Bar as part of its continuing legal education requirement for attorneys, and the acumen of his practice was eventually celebrated in a Virginian-Pilot feature article.

But Henry’s legal legacy may best be defined by his precedent-setting cases that contributed centrally to the establishment of Virginia laws ensuring equitable distribution of marital assets for women in divorce proceedings.

Beyond his family and career, Henry’s life was connected to Ohef Sholom Temple, where his great grandfather, Bernhard Eberson, had served as rabbi and where he himself served as president, a position he had aspired to as a boy growing up in the congregation.

Extremely proud of his family’s Norfolk heritage and a gifted, witty raconteur, Henry frequently shared stories of relatives, friends, and events that shaped his life in Tidewater. In retirement, he and Marcia resided in their Riverpoint home, which was designed by Henry in collaboration with the late architect Frederick Herman. Surrounded by towering Georgia pines, the house served as their sanctuary for 56 years.

Henry never fully abandoned the law, even after officially closing his practice in late 2019 at the age of 90. From his home office, affectionately known by some as the “He Shed”, he oversaw the conclusion of several cases and tended to family business.

Henry was predeceased by his sister Evelyn Schwan Hecht in 1997. In addition to his immediate family, he is survived by his brother-in-law Joseph Hecht (children Mark Hecht and Linda Hecht Schwartz); four beloved grandchildren (Jacob, Benjamin and Olivia Joergens, and Martine Schwan); and a wide network of friends, colleagues, and relatives about whom he cared deeply and by whom he was equally cherished.

A man who loved his family, community, and profession, Henry will be very deeply missed. He was an original.

Funeral services were private. The family wishes to thank the staff at Beth Sholom Village and Suncrest Hospice for providing Henry excellent care in his final weeks. H. D. Oliver Funeral Apts. Online condolences may be sent to the family through www.hdoliver.com.