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Obituary - Robert Eugene 'Bob' Swagerty


Last updated 8/14/2020 at 11:42am

Robert Swagerty

Robert Swagerty of Havre, Montana, 88, passed away August 11, 2020, at Northern Montana Hospital, his wife Dorothy at his bedside.

Cremation has taken place and graveside services will be held at 11:00 a.m Monday, August 17, 2020, with military honors.

Bob's family has suggested memorial donations be made in his name to the Fifth Avenue Christian Church or the charity of the donor's choice.

Holland & Bonine Funeral Home has been entrusted with services and arrangements.

Please visit Bob's online memorial page and leave a message of condolence for his family at http://www.hollandbonine.com .

Robert Eugene "Bob" Swagerty was born in Hopkins, Missouri, October 19, 1931, to parents Ray and Sylvia (Frizell) Swagerty. Bob was the eldest of eight siblings, and grew up a farmboy in the gently rolling hills of north-central Missouri. He graduated from Chillicothe High School in 1949. During his school years, along with his scholarly pursuits, he enjoyed baseball, football and boxing, taking trophies as a welterweight fighter in Missouri Golden Gloves tournaments.

In 1951, Bob enlisted in the U.S. Air Force. He was to serve his country for 20 years, his assignments taking him around the nation, as well as abroad - to hitches in Libya, Korea and Thailand. He was awarded the Bronze Star Medal in 1969, for his service during the Vietnam war and the Joint Service Commendation Medal coinciding with his retirement at the rank of master sergeant in 1971.

Perhaps the most significant event that occurred during Bob's military career happened when he was assigned to aid in the opening of Glasgow Air Force Base in 1957: In Glasgow, he met Dorothy Robbins, whom he married in 1958.

In 1959, Bob and Dorothy's first son, Kevin, was born. A second son, Shawn, was born in 1961.

The Swagertys moved around the country, as Bob's continuing military assignments took the family from base to base. Bob accepted posts at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico, Truax Field in Madison, Wisconsin, Nakhon Phanom, Thailand, and Cameron Station, in Alexandria, Virginia, where he finished his Air Force career in 1971 with the Defense Supply Agency.

Upon Bob's retirement from the military, he and his family moved to Havre, Montana, where Bob enrolled at Northern Montana College and earned a bachelor's degree in vocational education. During summers, he oversaw Havre's little league baseball program for two years, and tended his enormous and productive vegetable garden.

Shortly after completing his degree at Northern, Bob accepted work with the Burlington Northern Railroad at the Havre diesel shop, where he worked as a machinist until his retirement in 1992.

Bob loved exercise, particularly weightlifting and running. He regularly played basketball, baseball, and football with his sons, and played tennis many summer afternoons with his sons and wife. Bob read widely and voraciously, and wrote letters of unparalleled quality and hilarity. He loved poetry and would often quote "The Cremation of Sam McGee" by Robert W. Service, and other stanzas of his liking.

His fondness for music often manifested itself when he would burst forth in song while washing the dinner dishes. His record collection included many of the classics of old country. He loved sitting around the family kitchen table, joking, reminiscing and telling stories, cracking his boys up for hours on end after dinner. His smile and laughter conveyed a deep love of life.

Bob and Dorothy's marriage was a lasting love story that gave them both great joy through the years. Bob died four days shy of the couple's 62nd anniversary.

Bob is survived by his wife, Dorothy; his son Shawn; his brother Michael (Becky) Swagerty; sister Sherry (Randy) Handschin; and grandchildren Amber (Ari) Niemi, Christopher (Taylor) Iwen and Lilly Swagerty.

He was preceded in death by his son Kevin Swagerty; parents, Ray and Sylvia (Frizell) Swagerty; brothers Daniel (Mary Ann) Swagerty, John (Pam) Swagerty, and Harold (Betty) Swagerty; sisters Wanda (Chet) Stottlemyre and Mary (David) Bartels.

He carried this passage in his wallet:

"I come from a state that raises corn and cotton, and cockleburs and Democrats, and frothy eloquence neither convinces nor satisfies me. I am from Missouri, and you've got to show me."

• Willard Duncan Vandiver


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