Richard Swirsky
1953 - 2021
Richard Swirsky, born April 3, 1953 in Cleveland, Ohio, died peacefully at home surrounded by his family on May 26, 2021. He had battled Acute Myeloid Leukemia for 6 months. He leaves behind his beloved wife of 35 years, Rebecca Jenkins, and his devoted children, Sarah Zena, David James, and his sister, Lauren Swirsky (Chris Burk). Rich was preceded in death by parents, Arthur and Zena Swirsky. Rich earned his Bachelor's Degree in Political Science from Ohio University in 1975 and moved to Akron in 1979 to work for Ohio Citizen Action where he championed environmental and labor causes over the course of two decades. In addition to being an advocate, he was also passionate about education and the environment. His creation of Tikkun (to amend/heal) Village, in 1996, on the property of the Shaw Jewish Community Center combined these two passions. The nature trail was used by Akron Public Schools and Lippman students for environmental education workshops. Always a life-long learner, Rich returned to school in 2003, at age 50, to earn a Master's in Education from the University of Akron. From counseling at St. Augustine in Barberton, teaching reading at Firestone High School and ESL (English as a Second Language) for Project Learn, and Sunday School at Temple Israel, Rich provided all children and adults with his thoughtful and insightful instruction and compassion. He understood, believed and, most importantly, practiced the mitzvah (good deed) of treating all people with fairness and honesty. His dedication to service was exemplified in his most recent position as Akron's Ward 1 Councilman. It was an outlet for his creative and progressive thinking on policy with special focus on energetic, personal attention to his constituents. He leaves a legacy of service, activism, education, humor, and joy of life. His many friends and family will laugh when recalling Rich because of his ever-present sense of humor that was insightful, offbeat, creative, and sometimes bawdy. Rich had so very many passions, from playing softball to the music of Dylan, jazz and blues, Cleveland sports, politics, and the natural world. His final year of life, he finally got to see a Browns team return to being a top contender. A Celebration of Life service will be held Sunday, June 6th at 11 am, at the Shaw JCC pavilion (750 White Pond Drive). Rabbi David Horowitz and Rabbi Lee Moore will officiate. Guests are advised to arrive early and park in the front of the JCC or in the overflow lot across the street. Those who have difficulty walking can be dropped off at the pavilion. Non-vaccinated persons are advised to wear masks when social distancing is not possible. Donations in Rich's name can be made to The Leukemia And Lymphoma Society (, Project Learn of Summit County (, and the Rich Swirsky Memorial Garden (

Published by Akron Beacon Journal on Jun. 4, 2021.
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