Tommy Swaim began his most perfect life on October 12, 2022. With his loving wife by his side, all of the things of this world passed away and he left, too soon for us, to be with his Lord and Savior with no more pain or struggles.
Where do you begin to describe the life he lived? It was full, it was big, it was amazing. A voracious reader, expert builder, joke-teller, detailed-oriented, Western movie-loving, frustrated musician, Tommy Swaim worked his whole life at things he loved and some he didn’t love so much.
Born December 13, 1944, Tommy was the middle child of seven. His family share-cropped, so he grew up knowing the meaning of hard work. He picked cotton and would often miss the first months of a new school year to help his family at harvest time. Even though he missed many school days, Tommy was an excellent and smart student. He loved to play football and enjoyed performing in school productions. He set his eye on joining the military during wartime, but a heart condition caused by Rheumatic fever kept him from serving. Instead, Tommy put his amazing work ethic to good use. He wasn’t afraid to work hard for what he wanted or needed. He drove a tractor at night to save money to buy his sweetheart, Judy, an engagement ring. At one point, he had three jobs to support his growing family: manager at a paint store; a real estate agent; and a fireman.
When the call to leadership came, Tommy stepped up and, because of his commitment to the community, he served 23 years as Mayor of Jacksonville and held that position with honor and integrity. During his tenure as Mayor, he fought many battles. The toughest of which occurred in his first years in office. Financial deficits, a superfund cleanup of the site at Vertac, potential base closures, it didn’t matter the issue, he held his ground and did what was necessary. He even traveled to Washington to talk to officials to protect the community and the citizens that had trusted him with it. His focus was on building relationships that would be beneficial to Jacksonville and, in that effort, he served as the President of the State Municipal League and represented Arkansas nationally through that organization and many others.
A true patriot in every way, Tommy loved the Little Rock Air Force base and the men and women who served there. His tenure as Mayor provided him the opportunity to serve in a way he wasn’t able to as a young man. During a tumultuous time of base closures, he stepped in and fought the hard fight to keep LRAFB open.
He was also part of the team who established the LRAFB Joint Education Center providing college classes not only to the men and women of LRAFB, but to surrounding communities as well. He was beyond proud of the LRAFB, and his work there gave him a chance to be part of something he always admired and loved.
If Tommy had one weakness it was sweets, and ice cream was his favorite. The grandkids always knew there was a sweet treat to be found in Grandpa’s freezer. Try as they might to hide one from Grandpa, they would always come back to find he, indeed, had found their hidden treasure. In case you’re wondering, Black Walnut was his favorite.
Tommy’s happy place was the home at Lake Conway. There, he could fish all day or putter around working on his special projects. Memorial Day was always a big family weekend at the lake with lots of activity. You could always count on a weekend fish fry or bonfire. He was never without energy there, and Judy would say she had to bring him back to the Jacksonville house to get him to rest.
While he had many accomplishments professionally, Tommy’s family and friends stand today the representation of his proudest accomplishment. If Tommy called you “friend,” you were a friend in every sense of the word. His happiest moments were when all the family was gathered together. Loud and crazy was normal, and he relished it. With all the noise, one could always find him napping in his chair amidst the chaos.
He loved so dearly his soul mate, best friend, and wife of 58 years Judy, his children Deanna and Alan Carpenter, Shane and Mickie Swaim. His heart would burst with pride at the mere mention of his 8 grandchildren: Emma Carpenter, Isabel Carpenter, Krystal Langdon (Sambo), Alyssa Haley (Mason), Skylar Probus (Zachary), Avery Swaim, Jaxon Swaim, and Ryder Swaim. In addition, he has 5 great-grandchildren, a sister Jessica Scarborough (Ft. Worth), 20 nieces and nephews, and too many friends to count, who look forward to meeting with him again one day.
There will be a Celebration of life held at the Jacksonville Community Center on Wednesday, October 19, 2022 with a visitation from 9 am – 11 am and a program to follow. There will be a visitation on Thursday, October 20, 2022 at Westbrook Funeral Home, 183 Livermore Street in Hazen, AR, 72064 from 6pm-8pm. Funeral services held on Friday, October 21, 2022 at 1 pm at Center Point Baptist Church in Hazen, AR. Interment will follow at Center Point Cemetery in Hazen.
The family would like to thank all of the doctors and medical professionals who walked with them through his cancer journey. St. Vincent North Hospital, St Vincent Rehab, CARTI.
Arrangements by A Natural State Funeral Service 2620 West Main Street, Jacksonville, Arkansas 72076. 501-982-3400. Online guestbook available at www.anaturalstatefuneralservice.com