The late Thomas Swann ’81 could never pass up the opportunity to encourage learning.
On family vacations, daughter Elizabeth Swann recalls standing at the edge of the Grand Canyon with her sisters, Marianne Highley and Doris Osterhaus, and being asked about the rock layers they researched. Marianne has similar memories: “He assigned us a research project for each trip. When we were visiting Civil War battlegrounds, we were asked to prepare a presentation about Gettysburg.”
As a young man, Thomas worked at General Telephone & Electronics Corporation maintaining telephone poles and served in the Army in Vietnam, where he earned two Purple Hearts. After marrying Virginia Tuttle and starting a family, he went back to school for a Master of Arts in management through U of R’s Whitehead College (now School of Business).
“It took him 10 years to complete his degrees,” says Elizabeth. “He was rocking me in one hand and doing homework with the other.”
Thomas was proud of what he accomplished at the University of Redlands, says Marianne, “Every time we were in California, he wanted to visit [the campus].”
Elizabeth has a tangible memento of her father’s love for his alma mater—his U of R college ring, which he would playfully press into his daughters’ noses or arms, leaving a bulldog imprint. “We would say, ‘It’s Bulldog time,’ and laugh together as he did it,” Elizabeth remembers. “That ring was so important to Dad and represented all that the University gave him. Education was always a priority for him, and he truly had a lifelong love of learning.”
Even after Redlands, Thomas continued the pursuit of knowledge through community college classes and certificate programs, and he taught Sunday school up until his death in 2010. He succeeded in instilling a love of reading and appreciation for the value of education in his daughters—all three have earned undergraduate and graduate degrees.
Following their mother’s passing last year, the daughters established the Thomas and Virginia Swann Endowed Scholarship to benefit School of Business undergraduates older than 35 years, embodying their father’s love of Redlands, passion for learning, and desire to encourage the next generation. Elizabeth says, “My dad wanted to help students like him to achieve their dreams at Redlands.”
For more information on how you can support scholarships for working professional students like the Swann family has, please contact Gabrielle Singh, senior philanthropic advisor, at 909-748-8349 or firstname.lastname@example.org.