Jack Swift passed away peacefully on Wednesday, February 20, 2019, surrounded by family.
He loved story-telling, sports, politics, literature, history, travel, North Adams and the beautiful valley that he lived in his entire life. But above all else he loved his people.
He was born on August 11, 1941 in North Adams and lived in the small city for most of his life. He was the oldest of Ashley and Vivian (Scrivens) Swift’s six children, and entered the 1st grade at St. Joseph’s parochial school in North Adams at the age of 5. He grew up playing baseball and was on a team that advanced to within one game of the Little League World Series in 1953. He continued playing baseball through high school at St. Joe’s, where he graduated at the age of 16 in 1958.
Jack worked for his father’s plumbing business, Ashley Swift & Sons, from an early age. In 1959 began his studies at Wentworth Institute of Technology, receiving an Associate’s Degree in Engineering in 1961. He worked for a year as an architectural draftsman in Greenfield before returning to North Adams to join the family business. He obtained his master plumber’s license in 1970 and ran the business with his father, and later with his brothers, until 1993. That’s the year he established Swift Consulting Associates, which opened up opportunities for him to work on many projects that excited him and to work internationally in Germany and Ireland.
His interest in politics began at an early age. He signed on as a “Barry Goldwater Republican” in the late 1950s, inspired by his belief that communities do better with limited government involvement with citizens focused on personal responsibility and integrity while respecting different perspectives and opinions. He was a long-time and active member of the North Adams Republican City Committee, and served as president of the North Adams Housing Authority in the 1970s as an appointee of Governor Frank Sargeant. Because of his keen political acumen, he was recruited as a campaign manager for Jack Fitzpatrick’s first successful race for State Senator in Berkshire County and also served as Northern Berkshire Coordinator for Sen. Fitzpatrick’s successor, Peter Webber. Jack also took great pride in serving as the President of the North Adams Chapter of Habitat for Humanity, which drew on his construction background and his commitment to community service.
He brought his children to campaign events, including his daughter, Jane Swift, who shared his deep sense of purpose and civic responsibility. He encouraged, supported and.celebrated Jane’s interest in politics and was essential to her campaign strategy and operations in 1990 when she became the youngest woman ever elected to the Massachusetts State Senate. She was later elected Lieutenant Governor serving with Argeo Paul Cellucci, and served as the first female Governor of the Commonwealth from 2001 – 2003. She became the first sitting Governor in U.S. history to give birth while in office. Jack never believed that there are limits to what women can achieve, and was a steadfast pioneer of this perspective well before it became a popular cause.
His love of baseball continued throughout his life. He coached little league for nearly 20 years and he was a proud — and for many years, long-suffering — Red Sox fan. He became an avid golfer after his baseball coaching days, as a member at North Adams Country Club in the 1980s, and later at Waubeeka in Williamstown. He made many wonderful friends and “swore by his golf”.
His wife, Jean Mary (Kent) Swift, was the love of his life, and he never stopped marvelling at his good fortune to marry “the girl in the blue raincoat” that he met during a “modelling gig” at the Roberts Company in September of 1961. His love and devotion to her continued for the rest of his life, and they were married for more than 56 years. He and Jean enjoyed many trips, visiting their kids during their college years and beyond, and taking trips to Ireland, Germany, Italy, Florida, and various other destinations around the U.S. They loved their car rides around their beloved Northern Berkshire Hills. They attended Catholic church in North Adams and Williamstown throughout their lives. And his devotion to his mother, Vivian Swift, was profound.
He loved to tell stories, and most of his stories contained “little lessons”. On vacations, during holidays, in the garden or while building houses, he’d share his practical wisdom. His kids would tease him when he told a story for the hundredth time, but they all loved these little lessons, and it helped them all as they made their way into adulthood and having children of their own.
He stole all of his Uncle Andy Desanty’s jokes and told them over and over and over, what would now be called “dad jokes”. And he was an eternal optimist. Every year, he would gaze at the Christmas tree- or the annual Thanksgiving meal- and he would proclaim that it was “the best tree ever” or the “best Thanksgiving Dinner ever”. His family will remember him as the best ever.
Jack is survived by his wife of 55 years, Jean Mary (Kent) Swift whom he married on April 20, 1963; and two daughters- Jane Maria Swift and her husband, Charles Hunt of Williamstown and Johanna Martha Swift of Belmont, MA; and two sons- John Maynard Swift Jr., and his wife Kimberly Harrington Swift of Arlington, MA and Robert Ashley Swift of Bedford, MA. He also leaves eight grandchildren-Sam Swift, Natalie Swift, Elizabeth Hunt, Lauren Hunt, Sarah Hunt, Seneca Hart, Rowan Hart, and Amber Lynne Swift; three sisters including Anne Benedetti and her husband, Donald of Natick, MA; Mary Joan Belanger of Stamford, VT; Patricia Vareschi and her husband, John of North Adams; and two brothers- Peter A. Swift and his wife, Georgia of Naples, FL and Thomas Swift and his wife, Mary of Lee, MA and many nieces, nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews,
FUNERAL NOTICE: A Liturgy of Christian Burial for Jack Swift will be celebrated Monday February 25, 2019 at 11:00 AM at Sts. Patrick and Raphael Church, Southworth St. Williamstown, MA. Burial will follow in Southview cemetery in North Adams. Calling hours at FLYNN & DAGNOLI-MONTAGNA HOME FOR FUNERALS WEST CHAPELS, 521 West Main St. North Adams, MA are Sunday from 3-6 PM. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to POP Cares, a local cancer support group in care of the funeral home. To add to the Book of memories, please visit www.flynndagnolifuneralhomes.com.
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