Stewart Swihart Sr, 97

Stewart D. Swihart Sr., age 97, beloved husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather, 404 Cottage, Sturgis, Mich., died peacefully at Thurston Woods Village on Saturday, Aug. 29, 2009.

He was born Oct. 25, 1911, to Dyoll and Ella (Dague) Swihart in Howe, Ind.  He graduated Brighton High School (1929) and Purdue University (1934) with a mechanical engineering degree.  He was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Reserve Officers Corp.

In 1937, he married Irene L. Koon in Kendallville, Ind.  She died in 1971. In 1975, he married Lillian (Walters) Stukey in Sturgis.

Stewart served five years, stateside, in World War II as a pilot instructor, and separated from the United States Air Force Reserves as a Lieutenant Colonel.  At age 60, he was assigned to the United States Air Force, retired.  He purchased and operated Royal Crown Bottling Company in Sturgis for 27 years.  He later worked and retired from Keybank in Sturgis.  In his early years, he worked for the Essington Co., Ft. Wayne, Ind., and received two United States patents for mechanisms controlling the flow of liquids.

 He was an active church and community member.  He served as Chairman of the Congregation at Trinity Lutheran Church and was a member of the Board of Elders, Chairman of the Board of Property, and communion steward.  He was an active Sturgis Exchange Club member earning Exchangite of the Year, The Book of Golden Deeds, and honored for 50 years of service in the Exchange Club.  He was recognized by the Exchange Club for starting a scholarship at Glen Oaks Community College Nursing School.  He served on the Sturgis Airport Advisory Board and was chosen to be the Sturgis Citizen of the year in 2003.  He was a charter member of the Popcorn Guild at Sturgis Hospital.

He was a certified private pilot flying his airplane for business and pleasure.  Many flights were trips to Purdue football games and Purdue class reunions.  He was a life member of the Purdue Alumni Association and the Purdue Forever Club.  He was an avid “Boilermaker” and Big Ten fan.  He also enjoyed his speedboat rides on Klinger Lake and hosting his Cleveland family members at Klinger Lake.

He was preceded in death by his parents; and first wife; three brothers, Donald, Maynard, and Ledger Swihart; and several nieces and nephews.

Surviving are his wife, Lillian; a son, Stew (Donna) Swihart II; grandchildren, Scott Swihart of Sturgis, Steven (Lisa) Swihart of Lansing, and Cathy (Kurt) Stevens of Grand Rapids; five great-grandchildren, Grayson Swihart, William and Jackson Swihart, and Becca and Andy Stevens.  He is also survived by a step-daughter, Christine (Duane) Gonser of Sturgis and a step-son, Jon Stukey of Atlantic City; four step-grandchildren, April (Galen) Geigley, Andrew and Steven Mathews, and Torri Stukey; two step-great-grandchildren, Carina and Cierra Geigley. 

Other survivors are a niece, Marla Swihart; a nephew, Martin Swihart; sister-in-law, Donna (Frank) Krontz; brother-in-law, Clarence (Elaine) Walters and many nieces and nephews from the Sturgis, Howe, and Cleveland areas.

The family will receive friends and relatives from 2-4 p.m. and 6- 8 p.m. Tuesday, at the Hackman Family Funeral Homes – Hackman Chapel, 114 S. Nottawa St., Sturgis, MI 49091.

Services celebrating the life of Stewart D. Swihart Sr. will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday, at the Trinity Lutheran Church in Sturgis with The Rev. Michael Klafehn and The Rev. Calvin Kolzow, officiating.

Graveside services will follow in Oak Lawn Cemetery with full military rites conferred by the Capt. John J. Kelley V.F.W. Post #1355 and the U.S. Air Force Honor Guard.

The family suggest memorial donations be directed to the Trinity Lutheran Church or the World War II Honor Flights. Envelopes are available at the funeral home.

His obituary is also at where personal messages of support may be left for the family.

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