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Obit: Dick Swain (1944-2024)

Joe Offer 18 May 24 - 10:29 PM
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Subject: Obit: Dick Swain (1944-2024)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 18 May 24 - 10:29 PM

I came across a Facebook tribute from Dan Schatz to Dick Swain today. I thought he must have died recently, but Dick died on January 17, 2024. He was a gentle, wise, generous man with a very sweet disposition and a deem, deep voice (and a bass concertina to match). Many of us know him from the FSGW Getaway and for his The Old Figurehead Carver (Cody, Swain). He was registered as a Mudcatter, but posted only a very few messages. I'm glad I had the chance to know him. May he rest in peace.

Here's the obituary from the Rockport (Maine) Republican Journal, dated 22 Feb 2024
    BELFAST — Richard Howland “Dick” Swain, born in Moscow, Idaho, April 15, 1944, passed away at the age of 79 on Jan. 17, 2024. Dick passed peacefully while reading. He joins his wife and partner of 30 years, Nan Mattila who left us in November. He is survived by stepchildren Jenae and George Pash; three sisters, Ellen Roberts, Anne Carl and Karen Fowler, as well as a circle of beloved family, friends and neighbors.

    Dick earned a BA in philosophy from Oakland University in Michigan. He received a MA in East Asian studies as well as a masters of philosophy from Yale University. He went on to get a MLS in librarianship from the University of Michigan.

    He began his academic career as an instructor of philosophy, but soon found that he preferred helping people as a reference librarian. His career took him to Michigan State University, Northern Michigan University, Cleveland State University and the University of Maine. He retired after more than 22 years at West Chester University in Pennsylvania as Director of Library Sciences.

    As much as Dick enjoyed his career, his true passion was for music. He had an immense repertoire of songs from the United States, Canada, and the Anglo/Irish/Scottish tradition. He accompanied himself on numerous instruments including autoharp, banjo, bodhran, button accordion, concertina, guitar, mandolin and pipe and tabor. His performances included readings and stories, broadsides and topical songs, sentimental and comic songs, shanties and fo’c’sle songs, drinking songs, ballads, and even some contemporary songs. He sang and lectured to civic groups, colleges, universities, schools and churches. He performed in concerts and at festivals. He played in bars and at clubs, for weddings, wakes, divorces and other occasions for celebration.

    A celebration of both Nan and Dick’s life will be held the weekend of May 17.

    “For Dick Swain, who sings the old come-all-ye’s the way they should be sung!”

    -Sandy Ives

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