Homer D. Swander Jr.
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Homer D. Swander, Jr., 96, of Santa Barbara, CA passed away peacefully on February 15, 2018. Homer, perhaps best known by his nickname "Murph," moved his family to Santa Barbara in 1956 to accept a job teaching at UCSB. He taught in the English Department for 30+ years until university rules forced him to retire. He loved teaching and he loved Shakespeare and managed to continue both for many years after retirement. He touched many lives in his years in Santa Barbara through his teaching and his many projects and programs.

 Perhaps one of his favorite projects was Theatre in England, which he and his wife Laura Swander started and ran for over 30 years. Each summer they took groups of students of all ages to England to experience theatre -- seeing plays, holding classes and meeting actors and directors. One of Murph's other pet projects is still alive and well - Actors From the London Stage: A unique program that started in 1975 under the auspices of A Center for Creative Theatre, Education, and Research (ACTER) at UCSB and is now administered by the University of Notre Dame.

Murph was born in 1921 in Michigan to Homer D. Swander, Sr. and Grace Ann Murphy. He met his wife Laura at the University of Michigan. His beloved wife, Laura, died a little over a year ago at the age of 93.  They had been married for 73 years. He is survived by his son, Michael Swander, daughter-in-law, Linda Swander, both of Santa Barbara; his daughter, Susan Swander of Waldport, Oregon; and his grandson, Timothy Swander, also of Waldport, Oregon. His youngest daughter, Beverley G. Denton, pre-deceased him in 1999, and son-in-law, James Denton, of Brooksville, Florida, and Grover Beach, CA.

Neither of them wanted memorial services or any big fanfare. They didn't even want obits published. I am choosing to ignore that one about no obituary. Their ashes will be laid to rest together at Calvary Cemetery in Santa Barbara.

If any of you wish to honor them in some way, donations can be made in their names to a non-profit organization that they supported over the years and that they deeply believed in.  It is Project Aurora, P.O. Box 193, Cottage Grove, OR  97424 (a 501C3 corporation). They had a very personal connection to this group.  

Our family wishes to acknowledge and thank all of the people at Abundant Care Santa Barbara, assisted living home. They took exceptional care of our father for the last year of his life.

Arrangements made by McDermott Crockett Mortuary.

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in Santa Barbara News-Press from Feb. 25 to Mar. 1, 2018.
Memories & Condolences
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12 entries
February 19, 2019
Sending our love to you and aunt Laura. Casey and Alice
October 8, 2018
I took Dr. Swander's two Shakespeare courses in the late 1960s at UCSB. They were, without question, the most exciting lectures I've ever heard. To this day I feel proud of having given the right answer when he asked what kills Enobarbus in Antony and Cleopatra. Answer: a broken heart. "Who else in the play dies of a broken heart?" I took a chance and suggested "Iras?" "right again!" said Dr. Swander. 50 years later, and my heart still glows to think that I pleased my favorite professor. Remember his lecture on Romeo and Juliet? And his great argument for a Christian interpretation of King Lear, even though it's set in a Pagan World? My God, that man could teach!
Kathleen Huber
May 27, 2018
Murphy's Theatre in England program in 1983 is one of my fondest memories. I was between sophomore and junior year in college. Murph was a ball of energy, aided and abetted by his lovely Laura. I'm so glad I got to be part of their world, even for a mere three weeks. My condolences to the Swander family.
Lisa Horowitz
May 19, 2018
I'm so sorry for your loss Michael. He was a kind man and I know what he meant to you. I will keep you in my thoughts and prays as you grieve. Bless you
Rebecca Galloway
March 6, 2018
I am so sorry to hear this. Murph changed my life through his classes, and his student productions. I was offered the gift of playing Berowne for him in Love's Labor's Lost, and as a result discovering myself and going on to have a career as a director and, like him, a professor. I speak about him in every Shakespeare class I teach. I believe Murph was the single greatest teacher of Shakespeare in his and my lifetime. And he was a great, great friend.
John Bouchard
March 1, 2018
We will miss you and Aunt Laura and will cherish the memories we have. May you rest in peace. Love Alice and Casey
Alice Collins
February 28, 2018
We had the opportunity to take the Theatre in England classes with Professor Swander and felt privileged to see such wonderful performances and hear informative speakers. Christine and Susan Oka
February 26, 2018
Sorry to hear this news, he had a long and full life- good to see you for a minute a couple of weeks ago- take care Tutti!
February 26, 2018
Rest in Peace, Professor.
Gail Murray
February 26, 2018
Susie, I'm so glad you ignored the request for no obit. I am sorry, indeed, but envy them their long time together. Love always, Jane
Jane Blanshard
February 25, 2018
My daughter Brenda and I, had the full benefit of Theatre in England when she was 17 and the program had just started. What a rich and fulfilling experience it was for both of us. He was a great man.
February 25, 2018
You had a rich and full life, Dr. Murph! I learned a great deal from you. RIP
Bob Lane
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