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Garden Grove priest and friend reported missing

June 22, 2007|Christian Berthelsen | Times Staff Writer

Authorities in Oregon are searching for a Garden Grove Jesuit priest and his traveling companion, who may have gone missing as long as two weeks ago during a tour of the Pacific Northwest.

Father David Schwartz, 52, of the Loyola Institute for Spirituality in Orange, and his friend Cheryl Gibbs, 61, were last seen at their Portland hotel June 7. They left in Schwartz's car, a maroon 2005 Toyota Corolla, and left most of their possessions in their hotel room.

The pair were on an ambitious monthlong tour of the West through Nevada, Idaho, Washington, Oregon and California, with stops at Death Valley, Yosemite, Mt. Whitney and Mammoth Lake, and possibly visits with old friends and tours of churches.

It was to end with Schwartz visiting his niece in Carpinteria on the one-year anniversary of her wedding. He had performed the ceremony.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday June 27, 2007 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 39 words Type of Material: Correction
Missing priest: An article in Friday's California section about the disappearance of a Garden Grove priest and his traveling companion said most of their possessions were left behind in their Oregon hotel room. The room was a two-bedroom suite.

They were expected to meet Schwartz's mother in Sacramento on Saturday but never showed, said Father Alfred Naucke of the California Province of the Society of Jesus.

Schwartz had been expected to return to Garden Grove on Wednesday.

The priest left an elaborate schedule with his colleagues in Orange County detailing where he would be and when, Naucke said.

But they disappeared during a three-day period on the travel schedule during which he had left no details of their plans.

"That's why people are alarmed," Naucke said. "He was exceedingly methodical in these matters."

Schwartz was born in Sacramento and ordained in 1985. He has spent most of his career as a hospital chaplain in San Francisco and Honolulu, and was an associate pastor in Santa Barbara and San Jose. He joined the Loyola Institute, which plans religious retreats, conferences and training, in 2000.

Gibbs, who lives in the Oakland suburb of Union City, has worked for 31 years in the Alameda County coroner's office, most recently supervising death investigators.

Rosemary Mulligan, Schwartz's sister, said the two met while Schwartz was working as a community organizer in Oakland, getting people involved with politics.

"They just clicked," said Mulligan, a Sacramento resident. "She didn't have many people in her family."

Gibbs sometimes joins Schwartz and his entire family on vacations, she said, when they aren't traveling the world together.

The two have known each other about 20 years, sharing a sense of adventure and a love for the outdoors, said Sgt. Terry Bartholomew of the Alameda County Sheriff's Department, which oversees the coroner's office. He said Gibbs' husband died a few years ago, and her only remaining family was a half-brother in Florida.

"We're hoping she's just lost somewhere," he said. "She's got a habit of going off the beaten path."



A trip gone awry

David Schwartz, 52, of Garden Grove and friend Cheryl Gibbs, 61, of Alameda have been missing since June 7, when they were last seen in Portland. The outdoor enthusiasts were on vacation through the West.

Schwartz's planned itinerary

May 17 -- Trip starts in Las Vegas

May 21 -- Lone Pine, Death Valley, Bishop

May 22-24 -- Mammoth Lake, Yosemite

May 25-30 -- Reno, Boise, Coeur d'Alene

May 31-June 5 --Spokane, Hood River

June 5-8-- Portland (last seen)

June 9-15 -- Bend, Klamath Falls, Chester, Calif.

June 16-19 -- Sacramento, Carpinteria

June 20 -- Garden Grove


Sources: Schwartz family

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