By Jared Lindell
One of the easiest ways to honor someone’s memory is to establish a fund with the Community Foundation. Doing so ensures that the honoree’s name will live on and serve to benefit the community forever. However, there is more to all of these honorees than just their names, as is demonstrated by the Ford L. Swanson Memorial Baseball Fund.
Ford Swanson was a lifelong Jamestown resident. He graduated from Jamestown High School and entered the service on March 13, 1942, during World War II. Ford spent his 3½ year enlistment in many different locales from Camp Polk in Louisiana, to Belgium, and, ultimately, Germany. While in Germany, he even participated in the Battle of the Bulge, which left a significant impact on him. After the War, Ford’s professional life consisted of jobs working for Atlantic Refining Company, Hope’s Windows, and Unigard Mutual Insurance.
However, this is not the end of the story with Ford’s life. While he was attending Jamestown High School, unbeknownst to him, his future wife, Phyllis, was also attending Jamestown High School. It was not until after the two graduated that they would meet and develop a lasting relationship together. When Ford left for World War II in 1942, he and Phyllis were forced to be apart, but the couple’s relationship held strong and the two reunited when Ford returned from the War on December 6, 1945. Not long after, Ford and Phyllis Swanson were married in Pilgrim Memorial United Church of Christ in Jamestown on January 19, 1946.
While Ford can be identified for serving in World War II and calling Jamestown his lifetime home, there is one word that describes his true passion: Baseball. Ford enjoyed many sports including bowling, basketball, and golf, but baseball was what he loved most. Aside from playing the game as a child, he was involved in the area Babe Ruth organization for many years, as a coach. He was always willing to lend a hand to the young ones learning the game, and very quick to encourage those in need of a lift. He left a strong impression on those who played for him and developed good friendships with those he participated with.
Ford passed away on November 2, 1994, at the age of 78. The relationships he built over his years and the type of person he was became very evident to all those he knew. At his viewing, a fellow church member of Phyllis’ and Ford’s stated to Phyllis, “He was a wonderful man. I am a better person having known him.”
Taking this to heart, Phyllis wanted others to be able to benefit from Ford’s life and passion, so she approached the Community Foundation about establishing a fund in his honor. This meeting led to the creation of the Ford L. Swanson Memorial Baseball Fund in 1995. The purpose of the fund is to assist children in need with the cost of participation in Babe Ruth Baseball. Phyllis felt it appropriate to give others, with the same passion as Ford, the opportunity to play a game they love.
While every individual has his/her own story, Ford Swanson’s is partially about a man who loved baseball. Phyllis Swanson will continue to make sure this is not forgotten by the community with the Ford L. Swanson Memorial Baseball Fund. This fund ensures that Ford will always be able to help those in need of a lift, just as he did as a coach many years before.