Noted Newport Beach Businessman and Scientist Roger Schwenk Passes Away at 89

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Roger Schwenk

Roger Schwenk, a Newport Beach resident for over half a century and co-founder of Old Newport Antiques, passed away on Saturday, April 3, after a brief respiratory illness. Schwenk and his wife Joan founded the business in 1971 on Old Newport Blvd. Set to celebrate its 50th anniversary later this fall, Old Newport Antiques is the longest running antique business in the City’s history.

“He was truly a legend in antiquing circles. He was noted for his keen eye and encyclopedic knowledge of history as well as artists and craftsmen,” stated Steve Rosansky, president and CEO of the Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce

Schwenk was born in Chicago, Illinois. His family moved to Miami, Florida in the early 1940s, where he discovered his love for the ocean.

During the Korean War, Schwenk served with high distinction in the United States Navy. After his honorable discharge, he received his Electrical Engineering degree from the University of Florida.

Schwenk’s storied aerospace career contributed to many of the major space programs of the 20th century, from the Delta Launch Vehicle to the Space Shuttle and finally the International Space Station. He retired in 1993 with the position of Senior Scientist at McDonnell Douglas.

Schwenk had a profound love of music and had the unique opportunity to interact with Benny Goodman, Jack Teagarden and jazz trumpeter Jack Sheldon, to name a few.

“My father was a renaissance man. He had a deep affection for science and engineering as well as an intense love for the arts and music,” said Christopher Schwenk.

“My dad’s deep appreciation for film, especially classic movies and musicals, inspired me to build the Newport Beach Film Festival,” added Gregg Schwenk.

Schwenk is survived by his wife of 55 years, Joan, his sons Christopher and Gregg, and daughter-in-law Vanessa, along with two nephews and several cousins.

In lieu of flowers, the family has established the Roger Schwenk Memorial Fund at the Newport Beach Film Festival (Roger was one of the festival’s first volunteers more than 20 years ago) to assist aspiring artists and filmmakers to participate in this annual event. Visit for details.

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