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Frederick Swearingen


1921 - 2016 Obituary Condolences Gallery
Frederick Swearingen Obituary
September 25, 1921 - December 16, 2016
Fred passed away Dec. 16, 2016 at The Vintage at Las Villas De Carlsbad. Fred was preceded in death by his wife, Virginia Ann (shown with him above), and his son James. Surviving family members include Jane Myers, his daughter in Redlands California; his sister, Mildred Chapman of Belpre Ohio; his two stepdaughters, Debbie Wardwell and Denise Denn of Carlsbad, California; and his stepson, Brian Denn of Hingham, Massachusetts.
Fred was born in Coolville, Ohio and graduated from Ohio University in 1942. He joined the Naval Air corps in 1942 and served as a carrier based dive bomber pilot aboard the U.S.S. Bunker Hill until 1945. He was decorated 10 times; they included the Navy Cross, four distinguished Flying Crosses, four air medals and the Presidential Citation.
He served as a high school coach in Ohio from 1946 through 1953 and, beginning in 1953, owned and operated Swearingen Sporting Goods in Athens, Ohio for 20 years. He moved to California in 1972.
Prior to 1960, Fred also served as an official for high school football and basketball games in Ohio. He signed a contract with the NFL in 1960, and served as a field judge and referee for the NFL from 1960 through 1980. He was famous for his call in the 1972 NFL Divisional playoff game between Pittsburgh and Oakland at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh. The Steelers won on a deflected pass caught by Franco Harris in the last five seconds of the game. The play has since been called "The Immaculate Reception". He also served as field judge in the 1979 Super Bowl XIII, Pittsburgh versus Dallas.
Fred was a popular speaker at various functions and on cruise ships given his experiences with the NFL and his excellent ability to entertain audiences.
Fred also served as a member of the Oceanside Rotary Club and became Executive Vice President of the Club in 1979.
At his request, his ashes will be scattered at sea. Per Fred's wishes, no formal funeral services will be held, but a private family memorial service will be held as a tribute to Fred.
Published in The Athens Messenger on Dec. 18, 2016
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