Obituary: Swartz, Duane D.
Duane Swartz passed out of this world to join his beloved Savior, loving spouse, son and family on Saturday, June 23. We pray that his final struggle was eased by the presence of his daughters, grand- children and great-grand- children. Duane’s
generosity, easy demeanor, and ready smile endeared him to many and secured a place in the hearts of all who truly knew him.
Born on May 30, 1921, he attended both Elementary and High School in Burke, South Dakota. Duane attended Southern State Normal School at Springfield, South Dakota and moved to Spokane in 1941, where he met his future spouse of 65 years, Gladys “Happy” Swartz. Duane and Happy raised four children: Linda (Grant) Noel, Vicki (Hal) Dixon, Randal Swartz (deceased) and their adopted daughter, Bambi Swartz. Duane and Happy’s love of children and compassionate nature led them to foster fifty-five children through the years. Their commitment to family, community, and God was well known and respected by many.
Duane worked for Great Northern Railroad until drafted into the Army in 1942. He served as Sergeant in the Second Infantry Division, nicknamed Indian Head, and was captured in France while assisting wounded soldiers on July 16, 1944, during the St. Lo offensive. Duane remained a prisoner of war until released by the Russian Army on April 21, 1945. He often entertained his grandchildren with German phrases and his bullet wound, left from being shot in the leg while captive.
Upon returning from the war, Duane resumed work with Great Northern and later attended Gonzaga University. Duane started at Kaiser Aluminum in 1953 and held various positions throughout his thirty-two year career. He was a metal worker, a crane operator, and finally a truck driver who transported molten aluminum from Mead to Trentwood. Duane was a member of the V.F.W. , The Eagles, and the P.O.W.s of the Second World War; a group that became an important part of his later years. Duane especially enjoyed waving to the crowd as he rode in Spokane’s Annual Lilac Parade.
After his mother moved to a retirement community, Duane took over the operation of his family’s tree farm near Mount Spokane. He loved the wildlife, the trout ponds, and his dog, Licorice. Duane’s gentle heart and love of nature made him a favorite of the local wildlife; especially during the tough winter months when he would provide deer with hay and apples. One year a large tom turkey took a liking to him following him around the farm and roosting where he could look through one of the cabin’s windows; a situation that created one hilariously and unforgettable Thanksgiving.
Duane has left his family and friends with many cherished memories. Memories of those precious moments in time that brilliantly illustrated the loving, caring understanding and forgiving man that he was. We are truly blessed to have shared our lives with such a fine friend, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather.
Duane is survived by his sister Betty (Bob) Wells, three daughters, four grandchildren, and ten great-grandchildren. The family thanks Riverview Terrace for their professional and caring staff as well as the VA for proving compassionate care at the end of Duane’s journey.
The memorial service will be held on Saturday, July 21, 10:00 AM at the Mission Avenue Community Presbyterian Church, 2103 E. Mission Avenue. In lieu of flowers, please send contributions to Mission Avenue Community Presbyterian Church or the Salvation Army.