Thomas Van Swearingen, 73, of Libby, passed away on Sunday, Aug. 4, 2019 at Kalispell Regional Medical Center after a long battle with multiple medical issues.
Van was born to Walter and Dorothy Swearingen on March 12, 1946 in Chillacothe, MO. He had athletic accomplishments in football and track. Van played fullback for the Chillocothe Hornets and then attached the University of Kansas on a football scholarship. He studied wildlife biology with an extra interest in waterfowl, migratory patterns, life-cycles and nesting habits of geese and ducks. The wood duck was his favorite.
Van originally came to Montana to become a sawyer in the logging industry. Once here he fell in love with this state. He enjoyed fishing, hunting, hiking and camping. The beauty and calm of the mountains, lakes, rivers, and wilderness convinced him he was home.
Once the logging industry slowed down, a friend introduced Van to the Montana Department of Transportation. Operating heavy equipment came natural to him and he enjoyed it. His favorite piece of equipment was his road grader. Van always made sure his crew was safe, and had fun as well. He would cool everyone down with a quick spray from the water truck to cool them down on a hot summer day. Van worked for over 30 years for the MDOT. He was field maintenance supervisor in Libby from 1995 until he retired in 2011.
Van lit up any room that he walked into. He could make you smile when you didn’t want to, he made you when when you did want to, and he made you feel good about yourself when you were down.
Van was preceded in death by his parents, Walt and Dorothy Swearingen; his first wife, Suzie Swearingen; and father-in-law, Andrew Buckley
Survivors include his wife, Kathy Lynn: daughters, Paulina Brabham and Mandy Estill; grandsons, Chance Brabham and Eion Estill; brother, Lee Swearingen (Pat); mother-in-law Linda Buckley; and many other relatives and dear friends.