Tributes & Stories

 

Obituary (NM): John Wellington Swan '53

Posted on 05/09/2018

Col. John W. Swan (USAF Ret.) "Jerry" passed away at the age of 88 on April 28, 2018. Jerry was born in Rocky Mount, NC and was raised in Cumberland, MD by his maternal grandparents after the deaths of his parents.

After graduating from Allegheny High School (1948), he graduated from the US Naval Academy (1953). Jerry was a member of the USNA and Allegheny HS Track and Field teams. At the time of his graduation from the USNA, Naval Academy graduates were given the option to join the Navy or Air Force. Jerry chose the Air Force and became a fighter pilot, flying F-86's. While stationed in Germany, he traveled to Copenhagen, Denmark where he met Birthe, his wife of 61 years. Upon returning to the United States, Jerry attended and graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a Masters of Electrical Engineering (1960). After graduating from MIT, Jerry was stationed in NY, CO, OH and NM (twice). He served in the Air Force for 25 years and retired as the head of the Electronics Division at the Air Force Weapons Laboratory in Albuquerque, NM. Jerry had a successful Air Force career, which included receiving the prestigious Harvey C. Knowles Award. Jerry continued to work as an engineer after retiring from the Air Force, and he retired from working life in the early 1990's.

In his retirement, he spent his time skiing, playing guitar, skiing, fishing, skiing, hunting, skiing, target shooting, and skiing. Did I mention he skied? He was an ardent skier and was on the slopes, on some mountain, in some state or country, from the time it started snowing until the snow melted. He had to give up skiing at 83 because of spinal stenosis. In his final year of skiing, at age 83, Jerry skied one million vertical feet, equating to 64 days of skiing during that season.

In the last few months of his life, Jerry battled both pneumonia and cancer, and it was the cancer that took him from this life.

Jerry was preceded in death by his half brother, Richard Stinchcomb. He is survived by his wife, Birthe; his sons, Eric and Kenneth along with his wife Michelle; and his daughter, AnnaLisa along with her husband Richard. John has six grandchildren: Thomas, Stevie, Nichole, Brittany, Blake, and Samantha. He also has eight great-grandchildren: William, Elisabeth, Jayson Tucker, Charles, Adelina, Henry, Ethan, and soon to be Kenni. He is also survived by his brother,

Gordon along with his wife Linda. Jerry also has 12 nieces and nephews.

Published in Albuquerque Journal on May 6, 2018