Charles Elmer Swan was 86 years old when he passed on May 1, 2022, he had a big heart for life and his finally wore out. Charlie was preceded in death by his parents, wife of 61 years Virginia Swan (1934 – 2015) and granddaughter Starlin Rose Swan (1989- 2016). Charlie’s remaining family include Bob and Lori Swan of Vancouver, Washington, Mike and Tammy Swan of Damascus, Oregon, Patti Jo (Pj) Swan and Sandy MacDonald of Bend, Oregon. At the time of his passing Charlie had 5 grandchildren, 15 great grandchildren, and 1 great great grandchild.
Charlie was born June 1, 1935 in the basement of a Roberts, Idaho boarding house as the only child of Alton and Delia Swan. Growing up with thrifty hard working parents in the depression required a strong work ethic, Charlie put his to use in various odd jobs as a kid and right through adult life. He graduated from Emmett High School in 1952, obtained a Bachelors of Music from College Of Idaho (where he met his wife Virginia) and held a Masters of Music History from the University of Idaho. He reportedly chose that major as “it was the easiest one to get and sort of interesting”. Charlie and Virginia were married in Caldwell, Idaho August 20, 1954, they were a great team and their offspring are deeply grateful for all the blessings they provided.
Being musically talented Charlie mastered countless instruments but preferred bass and sax which he played evenings and weekends for years supporting his young family. “My first year teaching contract was for $3,610 for the year ($383.00 per month), yes it was stupid financially to select teaching but I loved it”. He taught music for 21 years developing several competitive winning marching and stage bands, most recently at Milwaukie High School. A few stand out events from his teaching career include the Seattle World’s Fair, New York World’s Fair, marching in President Nixon’s second inaugural parade and multiple SanFrancisco 49er games. Charlie was a powerful mentor and teacher to hundreds of kids via music and also coached the Milwaukie High Ski Team (the rule was you had to ski better than him to be on the team). After retiring from teaching Charlie shifted his creativity to acquiring and developing multiple properties in the Northwest, he loved the challenge of figuring out how to make deals work. In 1995 one of his projects earned a national award for the Best New Manufactured Housing Park in the US.
The last many years of his life Charlie lived in Indio, California and kept a home office in Portland, Oregon. He loved to travel and enjoyed exploring America in his deluxe motorcoach, most of those years with wife Virginia. Just prior to passing Charlie relished a sunny winter in California and enjoyed one last adventure headed north with traveling companion Helen Blenz. Throughout his life Charlie was frequently heard saying “It doesn’t get any better than this”.
Charlie requested no traditional memorial beyond a private family gathering to spread some of his ashes on Mount Hood and the remainder to rest with Virginia in Nehalem, Oregon. Charlie was a big personality and his family gives thanks for all who honor him in their hearts, we hope you all embrace loving and enjoying the important people in your world everyday.
Published by Legacy Remembers from Jun. 29 to Jun. 30, 2022.
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