DAYTON EATS: Farming father-in-law teaches lesson in enjoying and appreciating food

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

At the beginning of October, the COVID-19 pandemic hit home for our family.

My mother-in-law and father-in-law had been hospitalized since mid-September. Both contracted COVID-19 and were unvaccinated. They both were hospitalized for two weeks, isolated and alone as they fought to live.

Sadly, on Sept. 29 at 5:05 p.m., my father-in-law, George David Schweitzer, passed away.

My father-in-law was a very healthy strong man his entire life with very few issues. He owned and operated a large farm in Dresden, Ohio, and got more exercise on the more than 2,000 acres of land he tended to in a week than some of us get in a month or a year.

When it came to food, I was able to have a ringside seat to see it being grown. I watched the corn and beans that would ultimately feed thousands growing from seed and being harvested many, many times over the years. Like so many farmers across the country, he worked to help feed us all, paying tribute to the magic and majesty of nature and giving his time and talent tending to it.

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

He was a quiet man and the most hard-working person that I have ever met in my life. He was also tough as nails right to the end. I admired his work ethic, love for the land he worked, his simple, quiet nature and his deep unending love of pies and barbecue.

When it came to food he was such a lesson to me of always being passionate and unapologetically unyielding about the dishes and meals that make you most satisfied and happy.

Credit: TNS

Credit: TNS

Just as Benjamin Buford “Bubba” Blue had never met a shrimp he didn’t like in the movie “Forrest Gump,” my father-in-law had never, ever met a pie he didn’t make friends with.

Pumpkin, strawberry, cherry, pecan, apple, peach, sugar cream, chocolate silk, blackberry, coconut cream ... if it was a pie he was likely all in. As deeply passionate as he was about pies, he was equally passionate about barbeque, and as a former cattle rancher, a good steak. He relished in talking about the food that he loved most with great zeal and excitement. It was clear when he found the right dish it brought him great enthusiastic joy.

That we could all have the zest and gusto he did when it comes to the food we most love ...

This story of loss is not a unique one — it’s been played out across the country, wreaking havoc on hundreds of thousands of American families. The day that he died the news articles and headlines that came screaming across my phone hit home. Stories of how COVID-19 is ravaging rural America, killing people at twice the rate as it is in urban areas. It’s a tragedy that has sadly played out for my family and we are now part of that cautionary tale.

If I had the chance I would love to have taken him out for his dream meal in Dayton, which would begin with a good steak at Fleming’s or Carvers or the Oakwood Club — he’d say any of these options were too expensive, of course, but he’d have enjoyed it nonetheless.

The meal would end with a pie from Partial to Pie Bakery at our house, topped with a scoop of Jeni’s ice cream. It would be delivered with one last hug and the chance to tell him how much he meant to me.

I’m hoping wherever my father-in-law is at he is plowing the clouds and showing others how to maximize the fluffiness yields. I also hope he has an all-you-can-eat pie buffet, because I don’t believe anyone would appreciate it more.

Dayton Eats looks at the regional food stories and restaurant news that make mouths water. Share info about your menu updates, special dinners and events, new chefs, interesting new dishes and culinary adventures. Do you know of exciting outdoor spaces, new exciting format changes, specials, happy hours, restaurant updates or any other tasty news you think is worth a closer look at? E-mail Alexis Larsen at with the information and we will work to include it in future coverage.

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