Rod William Swank
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PEMAQUID, ME: Rod William Swank passed away peacefully at his home in Pemaquid, Maine on February 8, 2013, one day shy of his 84th birthday. He and his loving wife Jean moved to Maine in 1984, following active careers in education in Ohio. She preceded him in death in 2009.
Mr. Swank was born on February 9, 1929, in Butler, Ohio, to Howard Earl Swank and Florence Treva (nee Law) Conrad. He graduated from Butler High School (1947), Ohio Wesleyan University (B.A., 1951), and Ohio State University (M.A., 1959). In Ohio, he served as a teacher in Richland County, an elementary school principal in Delaware County, and a high school principal in Utica. He was the first superintendent of the Heath City Schools, a post he held for 22 years until his retirement in 1982. He was a member of Alpha Sigma Phi fraternity and Phi Delta Kappa (a national education honorary). He was also a member of the Associated Schools Project financed by the Ford Foundation for the Study of Secondary Schools of the Future; the Kent State University Seminars to the Soviet Union and China; and a participant at the National Security Forum-Air War College.
As Superintendent of the Heath City Schools, Mr. Swank presided over the construction and staffing of four new schools including the first Heath High School and adjacent Joint Vocational School. The vocational school served students throughout Licking County (Ohio) until a larger, more comprehensive, county vocational school opened in the early-1970s. While at Heath, he was instrumental in establishing special education and learning disabilities classes, art programs, kindergartens, adult education and summer school programs, resident outdoor education courses, occupational work experience classes, and other curricula considered innovative at the time. In 1981, the citizens of Heath honored him at the dedication of their new football stadium and all-weather track by naming the complex Swank Field.
Mr. Swank served as President of the statewide Buckeye Association of School Administrators and received the Distinguished Service Award from that organization. He also served on the Advisory Council of the American Association of School Administrators and was a lifetime member of the Ohio Education Association. He served on the local Boards of the American Red Cross, the Crippled Children's Society, and the Licking County Memorial Hospital, and was an inaugural recipient of the Pride Builder Award presented by the Newark Area Chamber of Commerce. Last year, he was named to the North Fork Hall of Honors (Utica, Ohio) and received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Heath Education Foundation (Heath, Ohio).
Mr. and Mrs. Swank were founding members of the Heath United Methodist Church, and Mr. Swank was a charter trustee. He also helped found the Heath Masonic Lodge and served as its first Worshipful Master. A member of many Masonic bodies, Mr. Swank received the 33rd Degree in 1982.
In 1984, Rod and Jean moved to Pemaquid, Maine. In the ensuing two decades, Mr. Swank continued to contribute to the welfare of his new community. He served as the Acting Administrator of the Lincoln County Correctional Facility, as the Clerk to the Lincoln County Commissioners, and as a Reserve Deputy for the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office and a member of the Damariscotta Police Department staff. Mr. Swank was the oldest volunteer to serve as a member of the international security team for the 1996 Olympics held in Atlanta; and he was honored in 2012, for his 15-year service tenure as a Reserve Deputy in Lincoln County (Maine).
Over the decades, Rod enjoyed international travel with Jean and time with friends and family. He is survived by his daughters, Constance Swank (Tacoma, Washington), Ilene Garrett (Carmel, Indiana), Kathleen Barkley (Roswell, Georgia), and Carolyn Scroggins (Madison, Alabama); sons-in-law, Dan Scroggins, Dan Barkley, and Wayne Garrett; grandchildren, Benjamin, Chase, and Lydia Scroggins, Jordan Barkley, and David and Abigail Garrett; and great-grandsons, Noble and Augustus Scroggins.
Rod was preceded in death by his wife, Jean; one infant daughter, Janice; his parents, Howard Swank and Florence Conrad; and his brother, Scott Swank.
The colleagues and students he helped guide remember him still as a man of integrity whose industrious leadership, commitment to excellence, and concern for the welfare of every student helped shape their communities and their lives. He worked his entire life, from peddling apples and newspapers door-to-door at age nine, to directing traffic as a sheriff deputy at age 70. He polished his children's shoes and whatever cars were in the garage because he knew the sacrifices made to have them. He relished college football in the fall and loved the many dogs who were his faithful companions over the years.
All who knew Rod, whether for years or for just a long conversation, found someone interested in their life stories and aspirations. He showed respect and compassion for all, never wavering in his belief that they deserved the chance to reach their goals. He lived his dreams with determination, generosity, and humility. Although he will be sorely missed, his influence will be felt for generations to come.
Family and friends will gather in Pemaquid this summer to celebrate the life of Rod William Swank. The family has asked that any gifts in his name be given to Bristol Fire and Rescue, 2 Quarry Hill Road, Round Pond, ME 04564, the Compassionate Companion Program, c/o Development Office, 35 Miles Street, Damariscotta, ME 04543, or to Miles & St. Andrew's Home Health & Hospice, c/o Development Office, 35 Miles Street, Damariscotta, ME 04543, or a charitable organization Rod would have appreciated.
Arrangements are under the direction and care of the Strong-Hancock Funeral Home, 612 Main Street, Damariscotta. Condolences, and messages for the family, may be expressed by visiting: www.StrongHancock.com.
Published in the The Advocate on Feb. 13, 2013