Swift leaves legacy

Published 7:48 pm Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Byard Swift never wanted any credit for what he did, but over the years he built a lasting legacy for his community, his industry and his family.
Swift, 89, was laid to rest Tuesday. He died late Friday night after a long illness.

“He was a very humble man,” his son David Swift Sr. said. “He did a lot of things for people anonymously. He loved to find people who had potential and help them succeed, whether it was tuition or something else.”

Swift, a U.S. Navy veteran of World War II, earned an electrical engineering degree at George Tech, then worked briefly at Louisville Power and Light in Kentucky. But he returned to Atmore in 1949 to manage Swift Hunter Lumber Co., and five years later formed Swift Lumber Co. with his cousin Robin Swift.

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He also helped charter Swift Supply Inc., an area building supplier.

Swift was active in the Atmore Lions Club, Gulf Coast Council of the Boy Scouts of America and the Veterans of Foreign Wars, as well as a founding member of the Anglican Church of Atmore.

He directed construction of St. Andrews Anglican Church in Atmore.

He also served on the Atmore City Council and was past president of the Alabama Forestry Association.

Swift often led projects for the organizations and industries he cared about — and he did not let up until they were completed.

Swift headed a committee that was able to establish a veterans memorial in Atmore.

“He was very instrumental in getting the VFW restarted in Atmore and a big supporter of any endeavors that we did as long as he was able to,” said Billy Gates of the Atmore VFW chapter. “He was a valued friend and we’re going to miss him.”

Atmore Area Chamber of Commerce President Sheryl Vickery said she spent a lot of time over the past three years with Swift as he worked on projects in the city, including renovation of the Boy Scout hut.

“He had a passion for things and wouldn’t let go of it until it was completed,” she said. “His three passions were the Boy Scout hut, the Atmore Historical Society and the Veterans Memorial. Those were his passions and he worked really hard.”

Swift was also a dedicated member of the Atmore Lions Club.

“The effect it will have on the Lions Club is huge,” Lions president Shane Hadley said. “He’s had a big impact. He was an effective Lion not just someone who came to meetings. He never missed a beat with the Lions Club. He was close to being a charter member. He was such a good Lion. Very active. Very supportive. He would volunteer at Mayfest and at Williams Station Day, even in his later years.”

Vickery said she carries Swift’s example of dedication with her.

“Something I learned from him is no matter how busy you get, things can get done,” she said. “Sometimes when I’m thinking, ‘How am I going to get this done?’ I think about him.”

David Swift Sr. said his father’s legacy will live on not only for the family but for the community.

“It’s a cliche, but he’s one of the few members of the ‘greatest generation,’” he said. “He was just a different breed.

“He loved his family, he loved his town, he loved our industry and he loved history.”