- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 28, 2006

On Saturday, April 29, Frank Gingell Swarr was laid to rest beside his beloved wife, Maggie, in Slidell, La. Frank died of a heart attack on April 23 at the age of 86.

Frank, a member of that magnificent group, dubbed the Greatest Generation by Tom Brokaw, slipped quietly away to rejoin that band of heroes who brought the Nazi war machine to a grinding halt at the Battle of the Bulge in December 1944. Although he would be embarrassed to be so eulogized, Frank Swarr was a thoroughly decent fellow in every respect.

He was an integral part of the American backbone that has made this country great. He always encouraged those he thought or knew had sound ideas. He was straightforward and analytical when poor ideas were presented to him. He would cheer up people when they were discouraged or depressed. He was proud of his military service to his country and intensely patriotic, but seldom discussed either.

A native Washingtonian, the son of the late Frank Benjamin and Evelyn Swarr, Frank received the Purple Heart as a result of the extremely painful wounds he received in the battle, and was awarded the Bronze Star in honor of his heroism during the battle.

A 1938 graduate of McKinley Tech, he entered the Army in early 1944. Following basic infantry training in Florida, he was sent to Europe. After some two months of combat and close calls, he was badly wounded and shipped home to recuperate. Home and on a short leave, he met the love of his life, Margaret Mary Cullen, also a Washingtonian. They were married the following Thanksgiving, in 1945.

After being discharged from the Army in June 1946, Frank entered the University of Maryland, earning a BS degree in business and public administration. In 1951 he accepted a position as a procurement officer with the Navy Department Bureau of Ships.

Frank and his bride initially lived at the family homestead on Capitol Hill. By that time they had three beautiful young daughters. They moved to Wheaton in 1952 with Frank eventually leaving government service and taking a position with the Raytheon Corp. in 1953. Initially, the family moved to Framingham, then Sudbury, Mass. After accepting a position with General Electric, the family moved again, this time to Daytona, Florida. Transferred to the Stennis Space Center by GE in 1972, they moved to Slidell.

Frank was always reluctant to talk about his battle experiences and, unless coerced, seldom explained his notable limp. Pressed, he did write a graphic account his life through the war and his re-entry into civilian life — telling the civilian-soldier’s story which is now on file at the World War II Museum.

He was reticent to talk about his war experiences and the horrors he saw. In his own words, “veterans were reluctant to expose and wished to spare the young from the horror and despair caused by the ravages of war.”

He loved and supported his children, fervently encouraging them in all their efforts. He bent over backward to help everyone he could — his friends, neighbors and fellow workers. He enjoyed being part of the Space Program at Raytheon and GE, believing in its good and its eventual benefit to mankind.

Along with the rest of the nation, he was appalled by the senselessness and consummate evil of the September 2001 terrorist attacks.

The Swarrs had four sons and four daughters — Tim of Charlotte, N.C., James of Houston, Texas, Jeff of Madison, Ala., Frank of New Orleans, La., Patricia Hoseman of Blackfoot, Idaho, Karen Flowers of Slidell, Terry Michaelis of Arlington, Texas, and the late Pamela Brown. He is also survived by 17 grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren and a brother, Charles Swarr of Florida.

Above all, he adored his wife, and when she died in April of last year it was as though he was staring into a bottomless pit, an abyss into which he could not reach, or accept. Yet he endured, trying to hide the deep depression caused by her passing. When he, too, became ill this year, he saw and accepted it as a passage back to his departed love, his Maggie. He accepted no heroic remedies.

It is reasonable to believe that Frank and his beloved are now entwined in a joyous dance of love through eternity. Frank died on April 23, exactly one year after Maggie was laid to rest. By his thinking, he had tarried long enough and didn’t want to keep his beloved waiting any longer.

Paul Beatley is a retired Navy Department employee.

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