James Carl Swain
On January 5, 2021, our father, James Carl Swain, age 86, of Fowlerville, Michigan went home to be with the Lord and his family, friends, and colleagues who passed before him.
James was born in Rocky River, Ohio on October 27, 1934 to Galen Frank and Matilda Agnes (Fallon) Swain. He grew up in Rocky River, attending St. Christopher Catholic School, and later graduating from St. Ignatius High School, “Home of the fighting Wildcats”.
He left Ohio to attend the University of Detroit, where he earned his Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering in June, 1958. While there, he met what would become his best friends throughout the remainder of his life. His children always knew them as Project WASH JKB (the Weidman, Averill, Swain, Hittler, Janik, Klozik, and Burkel families).
He also played offensive/defensive tackle for the Detroit Titans football team. He loved everything about collegiate football: the spirit, the rivalries, and the great games in football history. There was not a university or its mascot that he did not know. We know because we would quiz him.
He married his first wife, Carol Jean Pitman “Blossom” on July 5, 1958. They went on to have 6 children, settled in Fowlerville in 1972, and remained married until she passed in 2006, a total of 48 years. He was a member of St. Agnes Church and all the children graduated from Fowlerville High School. He was also a member of several professional and alumni associations throughout his life.
In June of 1963, he completed his Master of Business Administration degree, married, with four small children and one on the way. He spent the next 30+ years in automotive engineering and purchasing, traveling most of the time. His final automotive work, in the early 1990s, was a low tire warning system, using prototypes in professional racing. He traveled with Corvette Racing and sometimes even worked as a pit crew member. He tracked racing algorithm specs (failure rates/speed/temperature) and attempted to find an automotive group to consider a low tire warning system as part of an automotive safety standard package for high end automobiles. He would light up when he told his stories.
A lifelong learner and semi-retired, he returned to higher education, earning an Associate in Applied Science Degree in Computer Information Systems from Oakland Community College in June, 2000. Shortly after that he accepted a position as adjunct faculty at Lansing Community College in the early 2000s. He would go on to teach or assisted as a lab tutor at Lansing Community College until December, 2020, officially retiring. While he taught, he continued to take classes, earning an Associate Degree in Applied Science – Electrical Technology in May, 2006 and an Associate Degree in Applied Science – Alternative Energy Technology in August, 2011. In his remaining days, he restated that teaching at Lansing Community College was a blessing that fulfilled him, ending his professional life on a high note.
While the loss of his first wife was significant, he found love again and married his sweetheart, Joanne (Bowden) Swain “Josee” on August 11, 2012 in Tallahassee, Florida. They would spend the next 8 years traveling between Florida and Michigan, and even traveled to Ireland and Finland, James’ and Joanne’s genealogical roots, respectively. In his final days, he restated that Joanne was a blessing to our family and “she added years to his life.” We should all be so lucky to find that kind of love and best friendship again.
Dad loved his "Friday Night Lights" high school football, watching the “Glads in their Pads” for decades. Long after his sons stopped playing, he would still attend games, standing on the sidelines on the opposing side, and always making friends for the love of football. Eventually, he was recruited to be a part of the Fowlerville “Chain Gang”, calling it the “best seat in the house.” During high school playoffs, he would select a local team, and family and friends would caravan to all sorts of destinations around the state. He would create a bracket and even head to Ford Field for the finals. He would travel back to Ohio, meeting up with old classmates to watch the St. Ignatius Wildcats in the finals and championship games.
His first love of NCAA collegiate football is the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame. It was a rite of passage to attend our first game in South Bend, Indiana to see The Fighting Irish. There were many motorhome trips and fantastic tailgates to Notre Dame, Michigan State University, and University of Michigan. He could recall and re-tell the famous games like the 1966 Michigan State University versus Notre Dame University and the big 10-10 tie. He probably would have liked to see the Irish win another National Championship before he passed. But, he thoroughly enjoyed the Notre Dame versus Clemson game; the last time we would gather to watch on November 7. He later said, “It was a good day for us,” as he often said after celebrations—big and small, game days, or simple Sunday dinners.
James is survived by his wife, Joanne (Bowden) Swain; sons, Galen F. Swain, Sean P. Swain, and Terrence C. (Anne Forster) Swain; daughters Colleen N. (Palmer) Swain, Maureen E. Swain, and Meghan M (Kuch) Swain. Grandsons, Brock L. Swain, Kolton C. Swain, Lance G. Swain, Killian N. Kuch, Ayden F. Swain and Granddaughters, Natalie N. Swain, Amber C. Swain, and Rose. Great-grandchildren, Mia N. Marsden, Livia E. Marsden, and Ian R. Marsden. He also leaves behind his close extended family cousins, the Walshs and Spaydes, with whom he always said was a blessing and friendship beyond measure.
He is preceded in death by his parents, Galen Frank and Matilda Agnes, aunts/uncles/cousins, sister Nancy Seigler Swain, brother-in-law Leonard Seigler, sister Margaret Swain, his cousin Sean Fallon Walsh “Jacko”, his first wife, Carol Jean Pitman, and granddaughter Tara M. Swain.
Funeral services were provided by Herrmann Funeral Home in Fowlerville, Michigan. Visitation was Monday, January 11, from 3-7pm, and the funeral took place Tuesday, January 12, at 11am. A Celebration of Life will be at a later date. We invite friends and family to share memories/tributes at https://www.pjherrmannfuneralhome.com/obituary/James-Swain.
Donations can be made in his honor to:
St. Ignatius High School
1911 W. 30th Street
Cleveland, OH 44113
Fowlerville Athletic Boosters
c/o Brian Osborn
7677 Sharpe Road
Fowlerville, Michigan 48836
He will have everlasting peace, with burial in Mt. Olivet Catholic Cemetery – Fowlerville, Michigan, reunited with our mom.
Our dad used to sign off phone calls and voice mail messages with “We’ll talk when we talk.”
So, Daddy-O, we’ll talk when we talk.