Retired U.S. Air Force Col. Kenneth Clay Swisher, passed away peacefully on Sunday, Jan. 3, 2016, at the St. Paul's Community Home in Belleville, Ill. He was 91 years old.
Colonel Swisher was born in Bethel, Mo. on Nov. 27, 1924, to Clay Glendon and Lela Grace Swisher (maiden name, Ragar). Early in his life, his family moved to Missoula, Mont., where he spent his childhood and graduated high school. While in school he worked for the United States Forest Service as a firefighter. Upon graduation in 1943, he was accepted into the Army's Aviation Cadet Program. He earned his pilot wings in 1945 and enjoyed serving his country for the next 30 years as an Air Force pilot. He flew over 10,000 hours around the world through World War II, the Korean, and the Vietnam Wars. In his flying career he was checked out in numerous aircraft including the P-40 Warhawk, P-51 Mustang, C-141A Starlifter, and the C-5A Galaxy. In 1953, while stationed at Connally Air Force Base in Waco, Texas, he met and married Wanda Beth Anderson, the love of his life and his wife for 62 years.
Surviving are his wife Wanda; his two sons, Clay and John; daughter-in-law Aimee; his two grandchildren Lela Grace and John Bradford II.
In 1974, having achieved the rank of Colonel, he retired having served our country for over 30 years. After retirement, he moved to Louisiana, Mo. He was drawn there by the opportunity to assume full ownership and make a success of a business that he had been a part of financially for a number of years. In 1980, he sold the business and fully retired. In 2000, Kenneth and Wanda moved to Belleville, Ill., where he lived happily for the remainder of his life.
Colonel Swisher's military education included Squadron Officer's School; Air Command and Staff College; and Air War College. He was also a Master Mason, Shriner, and a member of the Order of Daedalians. While serving in the Air Force, he attended night school and earned a Bachelor of Science in Political Science from the University of Maryland.
Ken was known for his dedication to family, friends and country, his sense of humor, and his love of Montana.
In lieu of flowers, a donation can be made to the The
Services: A memorial service will take place at 1 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 16, 2016, at the Kurrus Funeral home in Belleville, Ill.
KURRUS FUNERAL HOME, Belleville, Ill.
Published in Belleville News-Democrat on Jan. 14, 2016