Martha and Daniel Swearingen

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LAURINBURG — Martha Swearingen, nee Martha Murray McKinnon, was born in Lumberton, on April 9, 1941, the daughter of James Calvin and Martha Murray McKinnon of Laurinburg, and sister of Ann McKinnon Kitzmiller.

Martha grew up in Laurinburg and attended college at Agnes Scott College in Atlanta, where she met Daniel Swearingen, an electrical engineering student at Georgia Tech. After earning her master's degree in English at Stanford University, the two were married in Laurinburg on September 5, 1964.

Daniel Wilbert Swearingen was born at Fort Sam Houston, San Antonio, Texas, on March 11, 1940. His parents were Violet Alma Elvida Nygren of Lindstrom, Minnesota and Colonel Samuel McGraw Swearingen of Fayetteville, Ark. Growing up in a military family during World War II and into the 1950's, he lived in a variety of places in Europe and the United States. Like Martha, he attended university in Atlanta and then earned a master's degree from Stanford, in electrical engineering.

After they had both completed their advanced degrees, Dan served in the United States Army for two years, and the couple was stationed in a number of places. Upon leaving the military, he and Martha settled in Raleigh, where he worked for AT&T and their two daughters, Ann and Kirsten, were born.

In 1970, Dan took a job at COMSAT in Washington DC and the family relocated to Arlington, Va. After leading the teams that defined the first maritime satellites communications architecture, Dan served in a variety of technical and management positions during his 30 years with COMSAT and then INMARSAT, including Engineering Vice President for COMSAT Mobile Communications.

Both Martha and Dan were musically gifted, and music was a passion they shared their entire lives, from classical orchestral to choral to pop to swing bands. Martha was a talented and wide ranging pianist from childhood, and played the accordion and guitar also. Dan was a trombonist since his own youth, playing trombone with the National Concert Band, McLean Orchestra, the Hexagon Players and others. He too began learning the piano after he retired.

They both sang in their church choirs until the final years of their lives. They loved to travel, from bike trips on the C&O rail trails early in their marriage to Alaska cruises late in life. Martha was a talented writer and artist, who published a novel in 1980 and created original and vibrant fabric art, as well as multimedia projects. Dan was passionate about sailing, canoeing, and cycling. He was one of the earliest DC bike commuters in the early 1970's and continued to ride 20 miles a day into the final years of his life.

They were both very active church members, serving as teachers, advisers, and key choir members. They were members of Trinity Presbyterian Church in Arlington, Va. from the early 1970's until 1998, when they joined Church of the Resurrection in Alexandria, Va. Dan was committed to volunteer work: delivering Meals on Wheels, staffing his church's homeless shelter, and serving as his church's Junior Warden.

Martha passed away last Oct. 29, 2016 following a short illness. Shortly before her death, Dan had been diagnosed with amyotrophic laterals sclerosis (ALS) a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. He spent his final months in the care of hospice, and with support from family and lifelong friends and passed away on Feb. 22, 2017. Both loved their friends and family, and are deeply missed.

They are survived by their daughters, Ann Swearingen and Kirsten Medhurst; Martha's sister, Ann Kitzmiller of Laurinburg; Dan's brother, Walter Swearingen, of Fort Smith, Ak.; and Dan's cousin Deanne Hanvey, of Corvallis, Ore.

A graveside memorial service to honor their lives and memories will be held at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 29 in the McKinnon Family Cemetery in Laurinburg.

Donations in their memory can be made to the Church of the Resurrection food pantry fund: The-Resurrection- 29

Services entrusted to Richard Boles Funeral Service.

Funeral Home
Richard Boles Funeral Service
13640 Andrew Jackson Hwy.
Laurinburg, NC 28352
(910) 291-0066
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Published in Laurinburg Exchange from Oct. 24 to Oct. 25, 2017
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