David H. Schwartz, husband of D.C. Council member Carol Schwartz (R-At Large) and a prominent real estate lawyer, died yesterday of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, according to D.C. police and family friends.
Police said the body of Mr. Schwartz, 48, was discovered about 7:30 a.m. in a wooded area near his Northwest Washington house by a neighbor walking a dog. Two handguns -- one in his hand and one in a pocket -- were found. Mr. Schwartz left a brief suicide note, saying he was sorry, police said.
Mr. Schwartz had been depressed for more than a month and had been treated for depression in the past, said former U.S. representative Marc L. Marks, a family friend and spokesman.
The death occurred on his wife's 44th birthday.
News of Mr. Schwartz's death brought an outpouring of condolences from city officials and friends to Carol Schwartz, who was in seclusion at her home with the couple's three children, Stephanie, 19, Hilary, 18, and Douglas, 16. Mayor Marion Barry called to express his sympathy and the other 12 members of the council visited the Schwartz home.
Barry, who had known David Schwartz since Mr. Schwartz served as counsel and secretary to the appointed council from 1970 to 1972, described him as "a loving husband and father and a very positive and constructive force in this city."
Council Chairman David A. Clarke, carrying a basket of fruit, joined a group of council members for a brief visit to the home shortly after noon. Earlier, several other members had arrived at the home, answered the telephones, fixed food and provided other help to the family.
"It was an outpouring of affection that makes one proud to be in politics," said Marks. Carol Schwartz was "extremely appreciative," Marks said.
Friends yesterday described Mr. Schwartz as a conscientious and compassionate man who was devoted to his family and his successful law practice. He was a partner in the firm of Willkie Farr & Gallagher.
His friends expressed deep shock that Mr. Schwartz killed himself, saying his nature was to be upbeat and emotionally balanced -- at least until the last months of his life.
He had worked hard on his wife's political campaigns, serving as coordinator in her bids for the D.C. Board of Education, council and mayor in 1986. Her loss to Barry, friends said, was a blow to the Schwartzes. A second shock hit when her mother died a short time later. And the death of his mother within the last year seemed to undo him, friends said.
Mr. Schwartz, who grew up poor in the Bronx, was an only child. His father died when he was a young man.
"He was always taking somebody else's problems and solving them, business problems, personal problems," said Herbert Miller, a close friend and chairman of Western Development, a client of Mr. Schwartz's. "He put a great weight and stress on himself. He bore the problems of the world on his shoulders."
"He tended to keep things inside of him," said Richard Aronoff, a longtime friend who had been his law partner for years.
Police said one of the two handguns found with Mr. Schwartz was registered to him, but they were uncertain last night about the registration of the second weapon.
Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. tomorrow in the Washington Hebrew Congregation. The family has requested that expressions of sympathy be made in contributions to the Metropolitan Police Boys and Girls Club and the Weizmann Institute of Science American Committee.
Staff writers Sari Horwitz and Linda Wheeler contributed to this report.