Fairfield’s Jo Jo Schwarz, a ‘genuine’ and ‘humble’ person, dies in 9-vehicle crash

More than anything else, Joseph “Jo Jo” Schwarz was a friend.

Schwarz, a local homebuilder and developer who lived in Fairfield, died on Sunday afternoon in a nine-vehicle crash on Interstate 75 in which 21 people were injured. He was 64.

Butler County homebuilder Scott Dallis and Schwarz were friends for more than 40 years and business partners with Dallis Homes for more than 20 years.

“We talked every day,” Dallis said. “It didn’t matter if he was in Aruba or I was in Hawaii. Even if we didn’t have anything to say, we still talked every day. And I’m talking every day.”

Dallis said Schwarz’ legacy was that he brought people together.

“That was a big thing of his,” he said.

According to the Ohio State Highway Patrol, the 2019 Chevrolet Suburban in which Schwarz was a rear passenger was in slow interstate traffic from an earlier crash.

A 2019 Freightliner driven by Dale K. Anglin, 75, of Vermilion approached the southbound traffic slowed by the earlier crash and caused a chain-reaction crash that included nine vehicles, according to the OSP’s Lima Post.

Schwarz was pronounced dead at the scene.

There were four others in the Suburban returning from Put-In-Bay, said family friend Mitch Rhodus. One of the people required surgery. Two are expected to be released from the hospital, and the other had already been released.

Schwarz, along with his father, Joe Schwarz, owned J-II Homes, which developed and built a large portion of Fairfield’s neighborhoods over the past several decades. The Schwarz family developed the Village Green in the heart of the city’s Town Center and donated the land for the Fairfield Community Arts Center, Fairfield Lane Library, and Village Green Park.

Rhodus, who is also Fairfield’s mayor, said he and Schwarz “were like brothers our entire life” after the Schwarz family moved next door when they were both 4 years old.

“Everybody loved being around Jo Jo,” he said.

More over, Schwarz was “the epitome of a true friend,” said Scott Willis, of Willis Enterprises.

“He made everybody feel that special,” he said. “If you had Jo Jo as a friend, there wasn’t anything he wouldn’t do for you.”

Jill Statzer grew up on Sharon Drive in a home built by the elder Schwarz and was the same age as Joseph Schwarz.

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“There’s a tender side of Jo Jo. He was just a genuine person, very special,” she said. “He would do things for people that he may not have known he did for someone. He was just so humble.”

But Willis said Schwarz was more than a friend. He was “unique.”

“He was social in just so many different circles, and he was an integral part in each one of those social circles,” he said.

Funeral arrangements are pending for Schwarz, who is survived by his father and three children. Avance Funeral Home in Fairfield will handle the arrangements.

The crash remains under investigation, according to the Ohio State Highway Patrol.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

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