Thursday, August 30, 2012
Frank Swords: ‘A truly great citizen’
By SUE WATSON
A key player in the economic and community development in the City of Holly Springs has died.
Frank Swords, 69, a benevolent father to the community, was publicly recognized for his participation in community parades with his horse-drawn carriage, support of education and schools, and quietly providing for the personal needs of untold numbers, according to his friend and neighbor Kenny Dickerson.
A man of unpretentious character whose daily wear was pinstripe overalls, was also a great intellect as well as philanthropist, Dickerson said, calling Swords “one of the finest people in my life.”
Swords, a certified public accountant as well as accomplished businessman, had a broad intellect and knowledge of local and state affairs and many fields of endeavor, Dickerson said.
Originally from Ecru, Swords made Holly Springs his home over 32 years ago, after marrying Vicki Bishop of Waterford. The newlyweds lived in Chatham Heights, where the Dickersons did, before both families moved to property out on Peyton Road.
He was known to only have positive things to say about people, “a trait you don’t see very often,” Dickerson said. Swords also thrived on community life, the city and county and those things he could do to improve the quality of life for the community.
“Don’t let the overalls fool you,” said Dickerson. “The man wearing those overalls was the man.”
Swords’ legacy will remain in the manner in which he shared his personal wealth with all who had a need, Dickerson said. His fondest loves were his family, the community which he supported and his horses. Not only did Swords provide horse and carriage rides for the local community, he traveled on long journeys to participate in his beloved hobby, the training and care of Percherons.
Swords also kept his connections to the soil – being born into a farming family in Ecru. Each year he held a field day where contestants would bring horses and plows to break soil and engage their horses in log pulls and other kinds of competitions. People who loved the old way of living came from miles around to participate.
“He is going to be more missed than I can ever begin to express in words,” Dickerson said.
Dr. Kenneth Williams, builder of the medical community, praised Swords for participating in the development of the medical center and plans for a hospital at the Holly Springs Commons area on the south side of the city.
“He has gone beyond the call of duty to help healthcare and the schools,” Williams said.
Swords made a large contribution each year to the Frank Swords Academic Awards Breakfast at the Holly Springs Middle School. Williams and his wife, Regina, joined Swords in supporting the breakfast, but Swords had supported it for a decade before he became involved, he said.
Debbie Jeffries, principal at the Holly Springs Intermediate School, expressed deep gratitude to Swords, whom she said was “a truly great citizen and great supporter of education and academic excellence. We express our deep sympathy to his family. He will be greatly missed.”
Visitation and funeral services for Swords are at his beloved school, Marshall Academy.
Headmaster Tommy Gunn expressed appreciation for all that Swords meant to the school and community.
“No one did more or put more into this school than Mr. Frank, a man who has done so much for so many in Marshall County without asking for anything in return,” Gunn said. “His love for his family, friends and children and his horses will be hard to replace. We don’t always understand God’s plan, but we know He has a plan for us all, if we choose to follow it.
“Mr. Frank’s love for young people at this school can never be matched. He helped people all over Marshall County in ways most of us will never know. He will never be replaced in this county.”
Vernon Stroupe has been a friend of Swords for 20 years – first building his home, then training his horses. Stroupe said he and his boss made a good pair of draft horses.
“One of us wore a little less size, but we were a good match-pair,” he said.
Swords bought his first pair of Percherons in 1988 and Stroupe started working with the horses in 1990. At one time Swords had 52 draft horses and at present has 32. He also has a good collection of farm equipment, three or four nice carriages, a new stage coach, and four or five wagons used to haul groups during festival days.
They toured as far north as White Hope, Ill., and as far south as Lake Hope, La., where they would plow and show their horses.
“He didn’t start out on the farm plowing horses; he drove a tractor, but he always had a riding horse when he was young,” Stroupe said. “He would tell how he would ride his horse four miles to Ecru to get a Pepsi.”
Stroupe will drive the carriage containing Swords’ coffin on his last ride – to Hill Crest Cemetery.
Stroupe said there would be big changes he has to accept.
“It leaves me minus a boss and a good friend,” he said.
See the obituary on page 2.
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