CLAYTON, MO (KTVI) -Somber moments and strong statements in Clayton Tuesday morning as funeral services were held for Missouri Auditor Tom Schweich. Police say Schweich died in an apparent suicide last week.
The services were held at the St. Michael and St. George Episcopal Church on Wydown. Hundreds of people gathered in the church to remember the 54 year old. Schweich’s casket was brought into the church draped in the Missouri flag.
All kinds of well-known public figures were on hand, Governor Nixon, Missouri’s U.S. Senators Claire McCaskill and Roy Blunt, and St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay. Two busloads of lawmakers from Jefferson City were also among the many people at the service. Also on hand was former U.S. Senator John Danforth. He gave an incredibly powerful eulogy to Schweich, who considered Danforth a mentor.
In his eulogy, Danforth called Schweich an “exceptionally able public servant” and someone who was “passionate about righting wrongs.”
Schweich was in his second term as state Auditor and was seeking the Republican nomination for Missouri Governor when, last Thursday, police say Schweich shot and killed himself in his Clayton home.
Danforth said he spoke with Schweich two days before the apparent suicide. He told the audience that Schweich was upset about two things–a radio commercial critical of physical appearance and a “whispering campaign” about his Jewish background which Schweich believed was anti-Semitic. Schweich was not Jewish but his grandfather was. In fact, Schweich was a member of the Christian church where the services were held.
Danforth said Schweich talked about going to the media with his concerns about the alleged anti-Semitism. Danforth told the crowd he advised Schweich to let someone else take the lead in that effort and he needed to remain focused on his campaign for governor. Danforth said he now fears he let his friend down and is very ‘angry’ about Schweich’s sudden and tragic death.
Danforth called Schweich ‘brave’ and that his legacy to his two children will be to fight for what is right, always seize the high ground and never give it up.
After the service, Schweich’s former spokesperson when he was auditor, Spence Jackson, praised Danforth’s eulogy. Jackson said the eulogy was what needed to be said and that he believed the two issues highlighted by Danforth were the driving forces behind Schweich’s suicide. Danforth declined to speak after the service telling reporters that he already said everything in his eulogy.
Schweich leaves behind his wife and two children.